I’ve heard this story from at least four different friends: driving down County Route 81, they stopped for what they thought was a garage sale and instead found themselves entering a breathtaking world of strange and magical sculptures, The Assemblage Art Gallery, and meeting its friendly, unassuming proprietor, Norman Hasselriis.
Sculptor/photographer/poet Norman Hasselriis was a local legend whose reputation spread slowly, by word of mouth. His beautiful, sometimes whimsical assemblages filled the front room of the gallery, and if you showed enough interest, he’d take you in the back room and pull out some of his photographs to show you. (You can see some of his assemblages, as well as his photographs of abstract junkyard compositions and his eerie photographs of flea market dolls on his website.)
He outgrew two successful careers – first in book publishing and then running his own antiques business – to relocate to Oak Hill and concentrate on making art and writing poetry. He delighted in showing visitors around the gallery as well as his large garden out in the back. Norman lived in Oak Hill for 22 years, finally retiring to Florida and passing away shortly thereafter, in 2006.
His family has been slowly working to catalog his vast body of work, but they’re opening up the gallery to visitors just for this weekend, Friday through Sunday (September 3-5) from 10am-2pm.
In addition, The Guggenheim Pavilion at the Rensselaerville Institute will be exhibiting photographs of Hasselriis’s assemblages by Dudley Reed throughout the month of September with an opening reception on Sunday, September 5, 4-6pm.