SOUTH KINGSTOWN, RI – The South County Art Association reopened last Friday and things are already looking brighter for the gallery – literally and figuratively.
“It’s fantastic,” said Kathleen Carland, Executive Director of SCAA. “It’s like a whole new world, you wouldn’t believe it if you saw it before and after.”
The renovations, which saw the Kingston Gallery close for the entire month of March and more than half of April, were done to allow for more natural and outdoor light by uncovering the windows on the front of the building. historic Helme House for the first time in over 50 years and the addition of a panel system to increase the hanging space of the pieces in the gallery.
“I never imagined that just removing a panel or two could have such a dramatic effect. It was a project that we had to consider depending on the space so we are happy with the result because the room is big and it looks big but when you take a panel and you expose it to 90 degrees, you I don’t want him to come too far into the room either. But I think it turned out perfectly, ”Carland said. “I’m just thrilled; I couldn’t be happier really. The light is beautiful and our exhibits are only open for about a month, so we don’t have to worry about the damage from sunlight per se because they aren’t open for a long time and it just seems to turn up the heat. people’s morale. “
Additionally, the renovations allow SCAA to run more classes indoors, as ground floor windows can create more open airflow and ventilation – important factors with distancing requirements. social still in place – while moving around current classroom setups in a way that Carland sees as more beneficial to students.
“We are reassigning our pottery workshop,” Carland said. “We have to move the wheels upstairs, which used to be the painting / drawing studio, so now we have all of our classes in the gallery sharing space with beautiful art, which isn’t a bad thing.”
On top of that, it also gives the community a better insight into what’s going on inside the Helme House Gallery, while also making it more alive.
“One of the main and beautiful things is that people who are walking now can look in there and they see art and they see a bright, living space,” Carland said. “Before, the panels were above every window except a couple, and it was just a dark space and not an image you really want to convey for a nice art gallery.”
Despite the countless hardships and struggles brought on by the pandemic, Carland says the SCAA has been fortunate to be able to use the time to make renovations and changes for the better, both for itself and for its members.
“It’s amazing to me that so many good things have happened (at SCAA) because of the pandemic,” Carland said. “We found that we were investing in the organization in a very targeted way to meet the challenges. For example, we have written grants to help the organization pay for all of these renovations, which hopefully could cover the full cost, but the board was very convinced that we needed to invest in security. that these renovations would offer to students and to improving the general appearance of the gallery.
This is by no means to say that everything has gone well for SCAA, but Carland has a growing sense that better days are coming soon.
“We are still struggling,” Carland said. “I don’t want to paint a too rosy picture because we haven’t been able to match our normal income for classes and things like that yet, but we’re coming back.”
At the heart of this comeback effort for SCAA is the ability to re-run classes, which Carland says “means everything” after having to do them almost exclusively on Zoom or other virtual platforms at the over the past year – and unable to make them in the past two months due to renovations.
“We can see our path to new opportunities really, really,” Carland said. “Classes are filling up very well. We have double the space available for summer courses, so instead of just two tents we will have three which – now with expanded state guidelines – we can offer space for maximum of 12 students.
It’s watching these classes return, much of it in person, that gives Carland hope for the future.
“We can feel ourselves coming back,” Carland said. “We have limits to the pottery program on how many people we can support, but we believe that by the fall we hope to be able to have full capacity. “
The gallery reopened on Friday for the start of SCAA’s first exhibition since February, the Annual Jury Photography Exhibition, which this year features 55 pieces curated by Warwick-based photographer artist Shane Gutierrez.
First prize in the show went to Stephan Goldstein for “Piñon Pine, Utah”, while second place went to Tiffany Medrano for “New Normal” and third place went to “Backstreet, Edfu, Egypt” by George Salter . Honorable mentions were awarded to Sarah Lawhorne for “Dark Days”, Pam Lander for “Nightfall” and Jean Duffy for “Desolation”.
The exhibition will run until May 15 during normal gallery hours from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. The next exhibition, “Driven to Abstraction”, will take place from May 20 to June 12 and will be curated by Providence artist Theresa Girard. Entries for the exhibition open to all media will be accepted in person at SCAA May 12-16.
Overall, Carland says she feels like there has been an urge from the local art community to come back and see and experience shows and participate in art classes.
“We’ve been working at full speed here trying to make sure that we don’t survive, but thrive, and look for every possible opportunity to maximize all the wonderful things about (SCAA) and members and students, and c It’s just been a wonderful thing to see people, ”Carland said. “I think they crave the interaction between learning and participating in the arts, and it’s a very healing way to spend your time whether you’re in the middle of a pandemic or coming out of it, I think there is no better way to spend some of your very precious time.
The SCAA is also planning to hold a Spring Pottery and Art Sale on May 29 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., similar to its annual Fall Pottery and Art Sale, with a rainy date on the 31st. may.
“We’re going to have a lot of art demonstrations and there’s going to be a lot going on here on this day,” Carland said.
Art classes for spring and summer still have vacancies and anyone interested in registering can do so by visiting southcountyart.org/classes.
The South County Art Association is located in the historic Helme House at 2587 Kingstown Rd. In South Kingstown and is open Wednesday through Sunday from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., excluding holidays. For more information, visit southcountyart.org.