- Pamela Polston
- Bromirski Hall art space at Jake's ONE Market
When Jake's ONE Market opened in February, no one knew the coronavirus would begin to claim lives in Vermont the very next month, or that most businesses would shut down practically overnight. The store on North Winooski Avenue in Burlington is considered essential, because food, and has remained open. Like every other vendor in the area, however, Jake's has had trouble keeping toilet paper, cleaning supplies and other crucial items in stock.
Where many saw empty shelves, Jake's manager, Martin Bromirski, saw opportunity. The painter, former art blogger and "longtime art freak," as he described himself, has created a pop-up gallery in the middle of an otherwise fully stocked aisle.
"I thought I could condense the products and put art in this four-foot space," Bromirski said, pointing to a utilitarian alcove nestled between dog treats and pet toys to the right and protein powder, vitamins and diapers to the left. "I have a history of highlighting artists I think need attention."
During a visit last week, the exhibition comprised six paintings by Waitsfield artist Frankie Gardiner. Her soft palette and dreamy, nebulous images offered shoppers an unexpected visual respite from the buy-me packaging of adjacent merchandise. Each of the 14-by-11-inch paintings was priced at $585. A typed list of titles and a neat stack of the artist's business cards accompanied them.
The exhibits at Jake's last just a week — a short shelf life, as it were. The inaugural artist was North Bennington painter Mark Barry, followed by Gardiner. This week brings central Vermont artist Axel Stohlberg, who is showing mixed-media constructions using paper coffee bags. Their provenance, no doubt, is another grocery store.
Asked how long these mini exhibits will continue, Bromirski replied, "As long as James will let me," referring to Jake's owner, James Kerrigan. (Kerrigan and family also operate Jake's Quechee Market and other Upper Valley businesses.) "I figured a couple months," he added.
Bromirski will show his own abstract paintings next month at the Vermont Studio Center. Meantime, he'll keep stocking artwork by fellow Vermonters in the petite gallery he's dubbed Bromirski Hall.