Upstairs at Vermont Artisan Designs
It's a work in progress.... With refurbishing being done in stages, Gallery 2 currently occupies less than half the upstairs at Vermont Artisan Designs. (This had been home to Mélange, an eclectic bath, body, and gift shop which recently moved across the street next to Baker's--Greg and Suzy Worden had been waiting for just the right spot to become available along Main Street to make the move and free their upstairs for a new gallery space.)
I met with Greg on the weekend after Thanksgiving to tour the premises and talk about the Gallery 2 project. As it happens, the concept had been quietly introduced during November's Gallery Walk, when one room at the top of the stairs was open to the public. Since that time, the former Mélange suite--a spacious central gallery with perhaps a dozen smaller rooms clustered around its edges--had been undergoing a minor facelift. Doors to each side gallery were being removed, hinge holes filled in, shelving taken down, brick and painted walls readied for their new purpose. Artwork still waiting to be hung was arrayed along the edges of the room, tempting me to bend for a closer look.
The central service area--a large, open-square configuration of countertop display space--is ideal for setting out food and beverages for Gallery Walk receptions or other special events. There is also another shining baby grand waiting for JC Donelson or some other keyboard wizard to tickle out a tune. As I surveyed my surroundings, I was already imagining large canvases on the expansive brick walls near the far end of the room!
Each of the 8 to 10 side galleries will be devoted to work by a single artist, or may occasionally be shared by two. The art is easily visible from the central gallery through glass walls and open doorways. Standing there in the middle, I felt physically drawn into each space for a personal viewing of the featured artwork, like being welcomed by my neighbors one by one for a cup of cocoa and a pleasant chat on a cold winter day.
This inviting feeling is what Greg is counting on for the patrons he aims to attract. "This isn't meant to be just a museum," he said. "We want to sell art." To this end, there are plans for furnishing a viewing room in which to allow potential buyers a comfortable seat in an elegant but homey space with an easel on which to put the work they are considering.
Another benefit of this hanging gallery expansion is being able to offer larger-format work by some of Vermont Artisan Designs' mainstays, such as printmaker Sabra Field, photographers John David Geery (color) and Alistair McCallum (black-and-white), and metal sculptor Bill Heise.
For December's Gallery Walk, Gallery 2 will also be featuring: Landscapes and still-lifes in oil by John Smith, Rosemary Ladd, and Molly Hyde, three members of the "Putney Painters" group studying with Richard Schmid; paintings by Steve Hileman from northern Maine and Sue Callihan from Peterborough, NH; pastel landscapes by Charles Townsend; Hopperesque acrylics by painter-illustrator-cartoonist Robert Waldo Brunelle of Jericho, VT; folkart prints by Will Moses of Eagle Brook, NY, great-grandson of Primitive genius Grandma Moses.
Be sure to stop by Vermont Artisan Designs during Gallery Walk or anytime (they're open 7 days) to see these and other fine works of art being offered in Gallery 2 as it expands to fill the upstairs.... all in good time.
Copyright 2004, Gallery Walk, Brattleboro, Vermont