Story and photos by Carol Montana
Root 52 Gallery at 87 Mill Street (Route 52) specializes in functional art made from the roots of trees that originate in Costa Rica. And so, owner Tiffany Moore decided to go for the root / route play on words for the name of her business.
As artistic as she is clever, Moore has taken the huge space that once housed a craft store, and turned it into a striking display of hundreds of beautiful wood pieces – vases, benches, dishes and more.
The walls of the room feature life-size photos of Moore’s staff harvesting the roots from the farms in Costa Rica. And Moore intends to have a video made that will show the process from start to finish.
Moore is the mother of three children. After she saw these wood products in Costa Rica she fell in love with them. “I love wood, I always loved the look of trees and wood, my house is full of pieces. I saw these products and decided to open a gallery.”
There are over 20 different types of woods represented in the gallery including Rosewood, Purple Hearts, Fustic, Tigerwood and Blackwood. And every single piece comes from a tree that is either threatened or endangered.
“Most of these trees are protected by the Costa Rican government,” said Moore. “That’s why the trees are not cut. The tree has already fallen from natural causes, and the pieces are made from the root. They can be trees that were cut 50 years ago before there was a protection order on them, and the roots are still in the ground. A lot of these roots come from farmlands, and the farmers want to get the roots off their ground. But the roots are plentiful.”
Moore also said that she is looking into donating a percentage of the sales toward the replanting of these endangered trees.
While 20 or so different kinds of trees are represented, the number and variety of pieces they yield is endless. But how does the sculptor decide what the final product will look like? “The root decides what form it’s going to take,” said Moore, who spends a lot of time in Costa Rica. “There’s myself and one other man, we look at the pieces and kind of see what form it’s going to take.”
Choosing to open a business during this risky economic time takes a lot of courage. Moore said she gave that a lot of thought. “People are very careful about what they spend their money on,” said Moore. “It’s pieces they fall in love with or feel connected to … And I think a lot of people will think these pieces are beautiful. And every single piece is different.”
Roberta Byron-Lockwood, President of the Sullivan County Visitors Association who was one of those present at the grand opening remarked on the variety. “The inventory is just absolutely incredible. I’ve picked out all my holiday gifts for the next ten years. The layout and presentation are stunning.”
That sentiment was echoed by Jodi Goodman, Sullivan County Legislator for District 6, which includes the gallery site. “This is a magnificent addition to Liberty. To look at this and how magnificent it is, it’s a plus for my district. The concept is incredible, the name of the business is fabulous. I’m so excited that Tiffany chose Liberty. It’s a museum, and an art studio and a retail shop all in one. There’s an element of warmth and belonging. You can have a lot of fun in here. I’m telling my husband we have to re-do a room for one of these pieces. Tiffany can be very proud.”
And Susan Jaffe, Vice President for the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development said how wonderful it is “to welcome a new business, there are some beautiful pieces of functional art. I want everyone to know that we’re going to have the Holiday Harvest Market in Liberty soon, and this business is a wonderful addition, and I encourage everyone to walk on down and do some shopping.”