2008-03-20 / News

Island group hopes to start an art center in Jamestown

By Sam Bari

Fourth grade students from Lawn Avenue School display masks they made to help get the Jamestown Art Center off the ground. Photo by Sam Bari Fourth grade students from Lawn Avenue School display masks they made to help get the Jamestown Art Center off the ground. Photo by Sam Bari Kate Petrie and Elizabeth Congdon had an idea. They believe our island needs and can support an arts center, so they talked to their friends Dori Hirsch, Jocelyn Donahue, Jane Mitchell, and Barbara Hutchinson. Together they gave the idea life by forming the board of directors for the Jamestown Art Center.

"We are a non-profit organization committed to creating an enriching environment that inspires creativity through active participation in the arts," Congdon said. She added, "We are determined to make the Jamestown Arts Center a reality. Together, we have the needed skills to achieve our goals. We realize it's a huge undertaking with many challenges. But we're enthusiastic and optimistic, and I have every confidence that we can do it."

The JAC's plan is to become a self-sustaining, successful business, Congdon said. "With the help of benefactors and Rhode Island grant agencies, JAC can provide high level and low cost arts programs for the entire community."

She also said that the JAC is seeking to establish a centrallylocated facility. "Our long-range plan is to purchase property in town that will be large enough to include painting, photography and ceramic studios, a dance/yoga studio, theater and music rehearsal space, writing and music classrooms, and a gallery.

"Ideally, the JAC will find a property with land for an open air stage, a sculpture garden, children's summer camp, and rentable event space," Congdon said.

If everything goes according to plan, the collective talents and dedication of the founding members will ensure the JAC enormous success.

"To start the ball rolling, the Schock Gallery at East Ferry will host "Collaboration," an art exhibit designed to raise awareness of our organization and raise funds for a new Jamestown Art Center," Congdon said.

Congdon and Donahue explained that "Collaboration" is a juried show of 10-inch square works of art installed together on one wall to create a single body of work reflecting the many facets of the talented artistic community in Jamestown and beyond. Participants of all ages, abilities and disciplines are invited to participate. All entries will be included. Work can be either for or not for sale. Contributing artists will receive 50 percent of all sales. The gallery will receive 25 percent, and the remaining 25 percent will be contributed to a fund for the founding of a Jamestown Art Center, they said.

The board of directors of the Jamestown Art Center created "Collaboration," and they encourage all artists entering work in the show to let their imaginations run wild, Congdon said. "Make a collage, paint, assemble, write, photograph, sculpt, weave, etch, quilt, weld, draw, embroider, illustrate, construct, design, build, mold, or even compose a song - anything goes."

The rules are simple, Donohue said. All work must be wired and ready to hang. Each work must be 10- by 10-inches square and no more than two-inches deep. Work may be framed, presented on a stretched canvas, foam core, or any kind of board.

According to Congdon and Donohue, anyone wishing to participate should bring their work to the Schock Gallery at East Ferry on Wednesday, March 26, between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. A fee of $5 will be charged for each submission. Artists may submit a maximum of three works. Prizes will be awarded, they said.

Those who are not artists can show a picture of their favorite artist or work of art, a child, pet, or hobby, they said. Participants can sponsor a friend or family member. The board of directors encourages everyone to become a patron by making a donation.

Family membership of $25 is optional, but encouraged, as well as any donation to help build a home for the arts in Jamestown. The idea behind "Collaborations" is to make a collective masterpiece to celebrate the launching of an effort to raise funds for a Jamestown Art Center. Here, artists can gather, exchange ideas, work together, and offer classes in all art forms to the community.

The opening reception for "Collaborations" is at the Schock Gallery, Friday, March 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. The show will run from March 28 to April 9.

Petrie, Congdon, and the board of directors encourage everyone to submit work, and come to the Schock Gallery to participate in the festivities. "Come to the exhibit and see what we're about," Congdon said. "With community support and effort, a center for the arts in Jamestown can soon become a reality that we can be proud of and enjoy."

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