New art exhibition adds to Allentown culture


Chance Morrow/The Record

Thomas Holt, 36, stands in front of Pine Apple Company, 224 Allen St., Holt is one of six store owners.

Chance Morrow, Staff Writer

The Pine Apple Company, a new art exhibition and retail space, had its grand opening on Friday, Sept. 2.

The company, which is located at 224 Allen St., is the outcome of a collaboration between six local artists: Esther Neisen, Mickey Harmon, Mike West, Sarah Liddell, Thomas Holt and Yames Moffitt.

Thomas Holt, 36, is the oldest of the six store owners, whose ages range from 26 to 36. Holt has been in Buffalo about 15 years, born in downstate New York. No stranger to art, Holt has a fine arts background with a degree from SUNY New Paltz. He has worked with the Burchfield Penney Art Center on Elmwood Ave. as a curator and preparator. He has also worked with the Young Audiences of Western New York, a Buffalo company whose mission is to incorporate art into the lives of young adults.

The idea for opening up the shop was inspired by Holt’s regular sketch nights, that took place at his studio.

“I used to try to lure people to hang out at my studio, which is a glorified living room. I draw and paint in the same space where I hang with my cats,” Holt said.

It took about a year of searching and keeping an eye out for an available storefront to go up for sale on Allentown. The current location where The Pine Apple Company is located had been a place of interest to the group for some time.

“We kept our eyes and ears open for retail spaces, but we had our eyes on this place for a long time,” Holt said.

For now, the shop is set up primarily as a retail space, where the six owners show off and sell their one-of-a-kind handmade art pieces.

Each artist has their own unique specialty in art. Most of Holt’s work is drawn or painted, while his fellow store owners focus their talents on everything from sewing fantastical creatures to detail-oriented digital artwork and sign illustration.

“We are in a similar pool, but with pleasantly different skill sets,” Holt said.

Some of the artists are already established in the art realm, like Esther Neisen, who sells her cloth and plush products “Lumpy buttons” on websites like Etsy.

The main wall of the store is in the process of becoming an exhibition wall, dedicated to showing off the artwork of other local artists.

The location has only been open for a few months, but the group is already brainstorming possible ideas for future events. One of these ideas is a quirky group show that will exhibit the work of multiple artists.

“We want to have a cat invitational where we can potentially pack in 30 to 40 artists that do something goofy and off-the-wall with cats,” Holt said.

While owning a store is serious business, the owners like to keep a light-hearted and comical perspective on their unique space. A pizza exhibition is another event idea that has been thrown around.

“We want to keep the essence of what sketch night was for us and try to offer that experience for everyone else to join in,” Holt said.

The community has shown their love for the Pine Apple Company since its opening just months ago.

“Everything has been wonderful. Ultimately the reception to the space has been great. We’re all just adjusting our time schedules to let this be a part of our lives,” Holt said.

The Pine Apple Company is open Wednesday and Thursday 12 to 6 p.m., Friday and Saturday 12 – 11 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

“I get to spend a little less time with my cat but that’s okay, he’s always there when I get home,” Holt said.


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