Artists and residents from all over Queens marveled at the whimsical treasures of the Apollonia Gallery as they slurped down Blue Point and Little Neck clams and sipped on champagne during its opening party last Sunday.
The concept behind the gallery, located at 48-14 Skillman Ave. in Sunnyside, is a fantasyland crossed with a curiosity shop, inspired by the movie “Amélie.” The shop features work by photographers, painters, jewelry makers, as well as a cosmetics brand and ceramics.
“This is the kind of store I’d want to go to on a Sunday morning,” gallery owner, Gary Callaghan, said.
Callaghan is an eco-conscious up-cycler who repaints quality and antique wooden furniture with materials discarded after construction jobs. Apollonia is furnished with his rustic creations, which make the place feel cozy.
He is also a history buff and partook in the restoration of Fraunces Tavern in lower Manhattan, where George Washington spoke to his troops.
The gallery, which is exactly a two-mile walk from his home in Maspeth, is named after Callaghan’s deceased dog, Apollo. He donated 10 percent of the proceeds from the sale of a lead mirror to Heavenly Angels dog rescue in Ozone Park.
Joann Keenan bought the mirror for her Manhattan apartment because it “spoke” to her, fit well in her hallway and she “just loves it.”
Lindsey Vandevier designed the gallery’s window display, which included butterfly cutouts. She commended the store and described the community as “an artistic melting pot,” where so many residents are creative.
“I wish there were stores like this everywhere,” Vandevier said.
The space will also function as a cultural center, where anyone, including those who cannot afford to purchase art can come for afternoon tea to linger and socialize. Artists will offer classes, such as pottery and ceramics, and there will be poetry readings and musical performances.
Featured artist, Conrad Stojak, of Jackson Heights creates art from old parking meters found throughout the borough and assembles scenes inside them, “like a ship in a bottle.”
Rafael Gonzalez’s panoramic photographs were composites of multiple photos stitched together.
In “Buddha’s Eyes,” is a composite of 360-degrees worth of images of the Brooklyn Bridge facing Manhattan, where the cables are warped and curved to either side like a pair of eyeglasses.
Rouska Valkova sold a white cup during the event. She lives in Astoria and works in a studio in LIC Center, where she creates cups and vases that conform to the way people hold them.
One artist’s work evoked memories of the location’s former tenant for over 20 years: a comic book store. Manuel Santiago Jr. created a shadowbox displaying his favorite collectibles from his childhood in front of a graphic art poster, which changes as an LED light cycles from red to yellow to blue.“Thanos Rising” shows the Avenger character with the infinity gauntlet, a glove with a lot of power.
Chriz Amez from Woodside on the Move patronized the comic book store as a child and said he feels like the space has evolved alongside his more mature tastes as an adult who appreciates art. He did joke that he would like to use the space to teach young children to play Magic the Gathering.
“I think this is what Sunnyside artists needed,” Amez said. “Now they have their own gallery space so they don’t need to collocate in restaurants and bars. It’s a place to come home.”
The gallery hours are Tuesday to Friday from 3-8 p.m. and will stay open later on the weekends.