Shopping Local: Members Gallery at AVA
The recent dusting of snow here in the Upper Valley was a reminder. It’s November, and two things are once again true. 1) Winter, my least favorite season, will soon be upon us (cue the snow tires and the lamp to combat seasonal affective disorder) and 2) Holiday shopping is once more on the to-do list.
“Winter Blue” (above) by Rich Gombar—an artist fresh off an exhibition at the Quechee Inn at Marshland Farms—is a balm in both respects. Despite my abhorrence of daily living in actual winter, I am often drawn to the season’s depiction and find it beautiful. Rich’s painting captures a ribbon of bleak denuded landscape, but oh, the white of those billowing clouds and that pocket of blue sky! It fairly popped off the wall at the Members Gallery at AVA.
“Winter Blue” is just one of many art works for sale at the gallery, which brings me to the second issue, that of holiday shopping. Shop local, avoid crowds, consider those thousands of shipping containers in American ports whose goods have nowhere to go. There are many reasons to browse the Members Gallery but the best one is this. It’s full of beautiful works by local and neighboring artists that you won’t find elsewhere.
The Members Gallery is a relatively new addition to AVA. After some contemplation and a few incarnations, it has finally landed, located in the spot previously occupied by a stone carving studio, now housed in the adjacent Bente Building. According to AVA’s Sheryl Trainor, following that studio’s relocation “a committee was formed consisting of Margaret Jacobs (former Exhibition Manager), Helen Shulman, Liz Ross, and me as the (then) Board Member . . . We envisioned it as more of a commercial gallery focused on providing a venue for local artists to sell their work . . .” In 2018, discussions about the space, with its expansive windows looking directly out onto Bank Street, began in earnest with exploratory meetings. Trainor explained how it started:
“50 people showed up to the first meeting, and it was lively--to say the least. All sorts of ideas were batted about. There was a lot of spaghetti being thrown at the wall with much more than a few opinions about how the space should be used.”
An artist can become an Artist Member for a $120.00 fee. Trainor says “there is no jurying process, although work is curated when it is brought to the gallery. There are currently about 200 Artist Members, including over 80 who show their work in the gallery.”
Betsy Derrick of Hanover NH is one such Artist Member. She has been accepted into AVA’s juried exhibitions, received a juror’s recognition award in 1996, and has participated in other AVA exhibitions. Of her work of imagined spaces (see above), she says she is often trying to capture saudade.
“Saudade is the Portuguese word for a feeling, a longing for something or some event that one is fond of, which is gone, but might return in a distant future. There appears to be no English equivalent word.”
She appreciates what the Members Gallery offers: “The recent addition of the Artist Member level of membership with the opportunity to exhibit year-round is most welcome to me. It is always valuable to me as a fine artist to be able to direct people interested in my paintings to a gallery where my work has a continual presence. The exhibition space is wonderful, and the work is exhibited in a very professional way.”
In addition to the year-round Members Gallery, AVA’s annual holiday show and sale will be on view throughout the named galleries from November 19 through December 30. Items can be taken home upon purchase. An opening reception is scheduled for Friday, November 19 from 5 to 7 pm.
(Photo, top, Richard Gombar, Winter Blue, oil on canvas on panel. Photo (slightly cropped) courtesy of the artist.)
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And in case you are wondering . . . Susan B. Apel shuttered a lifelong career as a law professor to continue an interest (since kindergarten) in writing. Her freelance business, The Next Word, includes literary and feature writing; her work has appeared in a variety of lit mags and other publications including Art New England, The Woven Tale Press, The Arts Fuse, and Persimmon Tree. She connects with her neighbors through Artful, her blog about arts and culture in the Upper Valley. She’s in love with the written word.