ST. ALBANS CITY – After a few years of renting its current space, the Artist in Residence Cooperative Gallery is looking to make its Main Street home a little more permanent.
The gallery has organized itself as a nonprofit and launched a capital campaign to fund the purchase of its current home at 10 South Main Street, a two-story building currently owned by St. Albans City.
Their capital campaign, raised to afford a $29,000 down-payment for the building, began last fall, according to Paule Gingras, the president of Artist in Residence’s board of directors. The gallery’s expecting to pay for the rest of the purchase through a loan secured through the People’s Trust Company, she said.
Currently, Gingras said Artist in Residence has raised about a third of that $29,000 down-payment, largely through personal donations from businesses and individuals in the community.
“It’s a community gallery,” Gingras said. “It’s not just for local artists to display and sell their artwork, but it’s the community gallery… so the community supports us.”
The city has owned the building since completing its reconstruction following a 2011 accident that saw a manure truck skid through the building and render it uninhabitable.
According to the city’s Director of Operations and Business Management Marty Manahan, the city had always intended to sell the building. “Our intention all along was to try to sell the property and not hang onto it,” Manahan said.
When hearing that the city was ready to sell the building, Gingras said she brought the idea of purchasing it before Artist in Residence’s governing board of directors. The decision to purchase was, according to Gingras, unanimous.
“I think it could be here for years,” Gingras said. “As long as the community supports it and wants it around, it could be here for years. That’s why it’d be good to own the building – no one will raise our rent and no one will kick us out.”
Gingras said the city’s been patient with the gallery, allowing them to gradually raise the funds they’d need for an initial down-payment on the building. Manahan confirmed this, saying that the city’s administration is eager to keep the gallery downtown.
“Artist in Residence has been a tenant for a couple of years, and they’re a great tenant to have downtown,” Manahan said. “We’ve been patient because it’s going to take them a little while… but it was really important to the administration and the council that Artist in Residence continue to be a vibrant business downtown.”
Artist in Residence is a cooperative gallery featuring the work of 45 artists from around Franklin County and its abutting communities. Each member pays an annual fee to fund the gallery and have their work featured inside.
Works range from paintings to pottery and sculptures. Gingras estimates that only a fourth of the work displayed in the gallery are paintings.
Most of the funds raised by the gallery were raised through personal donations. The names of those donors are spread out above a “featured artist” space near Artist in Residence’s entryway, greeting patrons as they enter the gallery.
According to Gingras, Artist in Residence is workshopping a historical women reenactment with the museum, scheduled for sometime in March during Women’s History Month.
Artist in Residence has also scheduled a “paint and sip” with 14th Star Brewery, proctored by the gallery’s own Patrick Murphy, a retired art teacher and area painter previously profiled by the Messenger.
An individual raffle hosted by the gallery has raised $4,900, while smaller raffles are scheduled for each of the gallery’s upcoming monthly receptions.
Gingras said Artist in Residence’s board of directors hoped to have all the needed funds ready by the start of April – the beginning of the gallery’s fiscal year.
Originally situated in Enosburgh, a shortfall in membership and a general lack of foot traffic had closed Artist in Residence before the cooperative sought its current place in St. Albans.
Artist in Residence has grown since then, now hosting 45 artists with room for at least 50. Gingras said the current site has been good for bringing more people into the gallery as well, though she added that there’s still a number of people surprised to find a gallery in the southern corner of St. Albans’s downtown.
Artist in Residence is one of two galleries in St. Albans City. The second, the Village Frame Shoppe & Gallery, is located more centrally in the downtown, on the corner of Main Street and Kingman Street.
According to the application for placing the St. Albans Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places, Artist in Residence’s current home at 10 South Main Street roughly dates back to 1865, where it was originally built as a commercial space.
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