Sculptor and painter Catherine Hall planted the seed for the artist-run cooperative 215 College Gallery five years ago. The rent had gone up at the College Street space she had been using as her studio, and she was about to move out, when she had a change of heart. What if she and some of her artist friends pitched in to make it a gallery?
She enlisted her friend Charlotte Hastings, a sculptor and educator with a can-do spirit. Together they rounded up a dozen artists to split the rent and show their work on a rotating schedule. Hastings died of pancreatic cancer before the first show, but the 11 current artist members credit her enthusiasm and energy for getting the gallery off the ground.
"We are proud to have been able to realize the goal of Charlotte's efforts: an independent, successful, artist-run gallery," the members wrote in a press release at the time.
During its run, 215 College Gallery presented consistently engaging shows, such as Mary Zompetti Lowe's photographs, which are taken with a tilt-shift lens to transform familiar neighborhoods into toy towns; Kate Donnelly's "Yardage Project," in which she wove material out of discarded paper, plastic bags and cereal boxes; and captivating abstract paintings by New York-based Megan Lipke. The gallery will close on June 26, after the current show — photographs of New York City and Martha's Vineyard by Ilao Jackson — wraps up.
"The decision was not made lightly and reflects our desire as artists to pursue commitments to current and future projects," writes member artist Sumru Tekin in an email.
Even so, Swanson writes in a newsletter that she was surprised the gallery reached the level of success it did. "It's been my pleasure to be part of the burgeoning art scene in Middlebury," she notes.
Here's hoping something equally arty takes these galleries' places!
Image at right, a portrait from T.J. Cunningham's