Catherine Dianich Gallery:
A New Space for Contemporary Art
When Dede Cummings and Catherine Dianich Gruver first met in the summer of 2003, they were both immediately drawn to each other's enthusiasm for the arts in Brattleboro. Cummings, a graphic and book designer from the area, and Dianich Gruver, a social-documentary photographer, who had just moved from a metropolitan area to Southern Vermont, brainstormed ideas about how to be better involved in what both saw as a vibrant arts community.
After collaborating on several projects, they decided to rent an office together in the Hooker-Dunham Building at 139 Main Street in Brattleboro, the former shoe factory for the Dunham Brothers that had been renovated by the late architect Leo Berman. The space they rented had a glassed-in office that was vacant, and the two proposed the idea of a gallery to the building's owner, Simi Berman. In Simi, also an artist, they found a sympathetic audience, and all agreed that Leo Berman would have been proud to be hosting such a luminous space. Cummings and Dianich Gruver decided that an appropriate inaugural show would feature the artists who live and work in the Hooker-Dunham Building, so they set out visiting studios and were pleased to find a high caliber of artists right in the building.
The exhibition that ensued brought the building's artists together for the first time and was a huge success. Among those exhibiting, Koo Schadler is an internationally acclaimed painter using egg tempera. Other artists in the building include painters Kathryn Greenberg and Dan Sherry, multi-media artists Molly Melloan and Dar Tavinger-Singer, and puppet-maker Caglayan Sevincer. Along with other artists who work in the building, like Carol Sevick and Ryerson Kipp, Dianich Gruver had a plethora of work from which to curate her first show. Cummings joined as a business partner and the gallery was launched. Both agree that one of the benefits of doing this exhibition brought the artists and many of the tenants in the building together for the first time to get to know each other. During the opening, the remarkable large papier-mâché heads and performance art of Stacy Morse came out in a stellar show after a hiatus of many years.
At first, it seemed like a far-fetched idea to Cummings and Dianich Gruver, but the more they talked to local and regional artists, as well as serious collectors of contemporary work, the more they realized that they could carve out their own niche in the growing Brattleboro arts scene. Both entrepreneurs have backgrounds in the arts. According to Dianich Gruver, she first came to the area twenty-four years ago to study with Fred Picker of Zone VI workshops. She fell in love with the agrarian landscape and came back annually to photograph, then last year, with much creative juggling, managed to move here full-time. She has been involved in a curatorial role in a large nonprofit contemporary arts institution, the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts, as well as several public and private spaces. Her work has been exhibited in museums and is in numerous public and private collections. As an adjunct to owning the gallery and other curatorial work, Dianich Gruver also represents regional and mid-Atlantic artists in all mediums.
Dede Cummings was raised in Rhode Island with an art gallery in her back yard run by both her parents. She is a graphic designer and sole proprietor of DCDESIGN at 139 Main Street and an Adjunct Professor of Graphic Design at Keene State College. After high school, she spent a year in Vienna studying photography and teaching photography at the American International School. She moved to Brattleboro because she and her husband, Steve Carmichael, wanted to raise their kids in a beautiful place with good schools. "Brattleboro has a lively music and arts scene that has grown considerably over the years, and as a graphic artist and poet, I feel invested in this flourishing community" she said recently.
The new gallery plans call for an exciting venue that will show established and emerging artists working at local, regional, or national levels. Dianich Gruver intends to develop programming in conjunction with the shows, including lectures and panel discussions, poetry and music. The space will reflect the artistic richness that continues to evolve in Brattleboro. According to Dianich Gruver, "the gallery is about the integrity of the art, and we want the artists to feel expansive in their work within the space." With that in mind, the two have set a goal for the gallery to offer stipends to artists for whole-room installations and are actively pursuing this endeavor.
The November show features the work of California-based documentary photographer Steven Brock. Mr. Brock has photographed around the world in places as far-flung as Cuba, Peru, Nepal, and Morocco. His work has appeared in numerous newspapers and magazines including The New Yorker, The New York Times, and Photo Review. He has exhibited his work nationally, including at the Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco; Shapiro Gallery, San Francisco; Yancey Richardson Gallery, New York; Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH; and U.C. Berkeley's School of Journalism. Mr. Brock's photography has earned him numerous grants and awards. The show opens Friday, November 5, during Gallery Walk with a reception from 5:30 to 9:30. There will be a companion show of Brock's work at Amy's Bakery Arts Café on Main Street in Brattleboro, also opening at 5:30 on Gallery Walk night. Both shows of Brock's photographs run through November 30.
As part of the opening celebration for Steven Brock's exhibit on November 5, Habitual Percussors, a local youth percussion ensemble led by Todd Roach, will give a performance at 6:00 p.m. Student performers include Ryan Huston, Neil Chamberlin and Mark Procter, who have been studying traditional instruments and rhythms from North Africa and the Middle East for three years. Habitual Percussors will be joined by Mathew Burton (Didgeridoo, percussion) for this performance.
Copyright 2004, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont