New gallery allows Fitchburg to get (more) creative
By Jordan Tillery, jtillery @sentinelandenterprise.com
UPDATED: 07/12/2016 01:25:52 PM EDT
FITCHBURG -- Nestled between Shack's clothing store and NeighborWorks HomeOwnership Center on Main Street, Gallery Sitka opened its doors for the first time to dozens of city officials, legislators and supporters Friday morning.
"I wanted something downtown to be part of the growing art scene," said Tamar Russell Brown, owner of the gallery, adding that the space on Main Street had the "ambience" she was searching for.
Natural light poured in from the front wall of windows highlighting a diverse combination of artist Gosha Karpowicz's nature photographs, and landscape and abstract paintings hung from the space's ivory walls.
"The reason we're in Fitchburg is because the Fitchburg Art Museum is here," Brown told the crowd. "When I first came to this area four or five years ago, on a really gray Sunday in the winter when my husband was working, I went to the museum. I was so impressed with the building and with the curation that they have. It's quite a jewel to have in this community."
Now Gallery Sitka joins the museum and Boulder Art Gallery as the go-to places to experience art.
"This is so important to our creative economy," Mayor Stephen DiNatale said, adding that it's one of the "focal points" in the city.
Mary Jo Bohart, director of economic development, said one goal of expanding the creative economy is to retain artist that are already in the city.
"We have artists that are living in this community, and we want to nurture those clusters," she said.
"We're happy to a part of that, and we feel like the gallery will help young people to be inspired to have more freedom in their thought -- we're really proud to be here," Brown said. "We hope that it will help the community to grow and young people to grow."
Brown, who is also the design director at Sitka Creations, a graphic-design studio, and manages another Gallery Sitka in Shirley, was able to open the new primary gallery in Fitchburg with the assistance of funding opportunities.
The gallery utilized a North Central Massachusetts Development Corp. micro-loan to help with startup costs that was provided by the North Central Massachusetts Chamber of Commerce and a technical assistance and grant from NewVue Communities.
"We're happy to play a very small role in helping make this happen," said Chamber President Roy Nascimento, noting the gallery was the first recipient of the organization's new Express Loan program.
"This is absolutely beautiful and a great addition to Fitchburg and a great addition to North Central Massachusetts," he said.
Marc Dohan, the executive director for NewVue Communities, explained why his organization supported the gallery's opening.
"We're working very hard to reimagine north of Main and this is right in the heart of the neighborhood," said Dohan. "It's the perfect synergy -- it gives people a reason to want to live downtown and it gives businesses customers."
Peter Milano, senior director of business development for the state, state Rep. Stephan Hay and state Sen. Jennifer Flanagan were among those attending the opening.
The gallery's grand opening will be from 1-4 p.m. Saturday, July 9 and will feature wine, cheese and a chance to meet artist Gosha Karpowicz.
Normal gallery hours will be from 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Friday and Saturday. The feature exhibit will rotate every two months, Brown said.
Follow Jordan Tillery on Twitter @JordanTillerySE.