Out of all the towns and cities in United States, you wouldn’t expect to find the largest Asian arts and crafts gallery located in Great Barrington, Mass. For over 38 years, the AsiaBarong gallery has been operating locally, bringing more than 25,000 pieces of stock to browse and choose from.
The AsiaBarong Gallery has almost every Asian antique product that you can imagine. Stepping into the shop is like exploring an ancient artifact museum that you can explore all day without getting bored. The gallery is filled with high quality ethnographic art, ranging from statues of deities and animals made from marbles and brass, Japanese paintings, Daoist crowns, shrines, hand carved doors, porcelain tea sets, jewelry (hairpins and necklaces), woven baskets, lotus shoes, fabrics (sari and kimono), lamps, masks, puppets, drums, mini animal wood carvings, and painted furniture (closets, chests, and bookshelves).
Before stepping inside the shop, you’ll notice that the building is guarded by lava stone buddhas and ganeshas, accompanied by marble foo dogs and dragons that will you lead all the way to the garden that’s just filled with more statues, fountains, sandstone gates, and antique wooden gazebos. There is no other gallery in the United States that represents Asian artworks from every Asian country the same way that the AsiaBarong gallery does.
Bill Talbot, owner of the gallery and native of Stockbridge, Mass had always dreamed of creating and owning an amusement park and decided to pursue that venture after working as a biologist in Australia and backpacking across Asia.
According to the store’s website, the gallery’s main goal has always been “to be a fair-trade company who supports families in Asia.” As well as bringing money from the first world to the developing world and giving profit to artisan families in exchange for art.
“We specialize in ethnographic art and ethnographic means culturally made as opposed to handcrafted, so the vast majority of products we have has something to do with the culture and traditions of the country that it’s exported from,” says Bill.
Despite, how racially homogenous the Berkshires are, the gallery has managed to attract visitors from all over the globe and when the pandemic broke out in March 2020, the gallery still had no trouble staying in business.
“No change from the pandemic, still perfectly fine, expect the only difference was that people shopped more outside then inside. What happened was that we didn’t know that this pandemic was going to happen, obviously during lockdown business went down, but of course when we opened everyone spent time in the garden The outside was just selling so much all through 2020 and business in inside slowed down. Now it’s back to being even,” continued Bill.
AsiaBarong also offers “special ordering” services, where if a customer is interested in creating an object of their choice, then the gallery can sculpt one made from wood by request. The costs of antiques in the store vary from $1 to over $20,000. It all depends on what you want to buy. The most expensive products to purchase from the store include the lawn statues, furniture, and fountains. However, not everybody can afford such luxurious items, so the gallery also offers antiques for reasonable and affordable prices. Customers can purchase busts and vases for over a $100 to simple souvenirs such as fans, wooden carved mini animals, and snuff bottles for at least $10.
The presence of the AsiaBarong Gallery not only illuminates more cultural diversity to the Berkshires, but the gallery can also educate visitors about the different cultures of Asia. Interested in learning more about the gallery, you can check out their website at https://asiabarong.com for more information.
Mei Craig is a rising senior at the Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts (MCLA) majoring in English & Communications with double concentration in Literature and Journalism. At MCLA, Mei serves as an anchor and news reporter for MCLA’s student media outlet, Beacon Web News and as a staff writer for MCLA’s student publication, The Beacon, where covers events happening around campus and North Adams. Mei hopes to pursue a professional career in journalism and is excited to advance reporting skills this summer as writer for The Greylock Glass.