Douglas Shippee, owner of the Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop, also curates an art gallery on the second floor of the Rhinebeck location.
Douglas Shippee, owner of the Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop, also curates an art gallery on the second floor of the Rhinebeck location.

The Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop: A palette of pure pleasure

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The Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop is not just an invaluable resource for artists, but a joy to visit for its “hands-on” experience: You can feel the texture and weight of that eco-friendly drawing paper from Nepal, choose the exact shade of burnt sienna from 12 brands of oil paint, match the perfect frame to your finished masterpiece.

“An important thing I’ve learned in the art supply field is not try to have everything,” explained owner Doug Shippee, who is also an artist. “We’ve brought what we think is most important here. People have preferences, and we can always satisfy on one level or another.”

Doug bought the store in April 2007, although it has been a landmark in Rhinebeck since the 1970’s. He earned a BFA at the University of Minnesota, where he is originally from, and an MFA from the University of Indiana. He previously worked at Catskill Art & Office Supply since 1990 and at David Davis Art Supply in New York City in the 1980’s, where he met his wife, Lynn Francis, a writer who also studied art history and art. They have a daughter, Rebecca, 21, who is studying art at Purchase College, and two sons: Sam, 17, attending Rhode Island School of Design, and Logan, who is in the 7th grade in Kingston, where the family now lives.

The kids pitch in at the store occasionally, and Lynn works there a couple of days a week, Doug said, adding, “She makes the store look good.”

The store is a colorful collage of inviting inventory: as you walk in, there is unique stationery and novelty gifts, a few steps down are pens, pencils, and markers. And downstairs in the children’s department, a variety of supplies and projects make perfect presents. If you’re looking for canvas, find the hidden room where many yards and types are stored.

In addition, the store does framing, courtesy of master framer Chris Mullaney.

“I can give him anything and know it will come out right,” Doug said. “We do all the work in-house, and we turn things around quickly.”

While the Rhinebeck Artist’s Shop has the tools, Doug has now opened up space for artists to show their works as well. On March 16, the Atwater Gallery on the second floor opened with “Artists of the Artist’s Shop,” the first of monthly exhibits scheduled to coordinate with Art Along the Hudson events.

Doug said he had been considering an upstairs gallery for some time, and last January an apartment became available.

“There are different galleries throughout Rhinebeck, and they were really enthusiastic to have another in town. It can be open whenever the store is,” Doug explained.

In 2009, he opened another store in New Paltz, which is also doing well. “When we took over the store in Rhinebeck, we brought in new product, changed pricing policy,” he said. “Commodities are discounted, and people realize it’s not a typical small-town art store. We’ve been busy straight through the recession. We appreciate that Rhinebeck is a great location for us.”

“The store and the gallery are definitely a family affair,” Lynn added. “We feel that our family includes all the wonderful artists who have chosen to make the Hudson Valley their home.”

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