New cooperative art gallery opens in historic Exner Block

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BELLOWS FALLS — Ad Hoc Art Gallery, a nearly 300-square-foot art-based business opened Nov. 17, at 23 Canal St., in Bellows Falls' Historic Downtown, with views of the Bellows Falls canal and the New Hampshire Mountains. It was a clothing store most recently but when Emmett S. Dunbar realized that Bellows Falls did not have a stand-alone art gallery, he had an idea. While serving as Economic Development Director for the Town of Rockingham in 2016, he asked numerous artists including Garrison Buxton and MC Noyes if they wanted to open a gallery. Buxton and Noyes showed up and made it happen. Dunbar said, "The gallery opening energizes us to want to do more in the space with other artists and visitors. It is so much fun." He continued, "We each have our own expectations of our roles and contributions to the gallery. I wanted to print and share my photography with people."

Three Artists with a Vision

The micro-coop space was formed by Dunbar, Buxton and Noyes who wished for a centralized location to create and share their art with a supportive community. The history of, and present population of people with creative energy and vision in this "city-center" of rural America was essential in opening a startup like Ad Hoc Gallery. The choice to be in Rockingham was made obvious by its close proximity to the Northeast's major urban centers, as well as the area's opportunities to market to the region's year-round visitors and neighbors' alike.

Dunbar is a photo-poet, farmer and project manager who lives in South Londonderry. His inspiration from nature along with his passion for farming is expressed through images from different life adventures. Dunbar explained, "I enjoy expressing certain poetry through images of the world we live in. I have used a Nikon for most of my life, but now use a Canon Rebel camera. All the prints are on archival paper and use high quality ink." He goes on to say, "The image should be stunning and last a very long time in order to be shared. Hopefully, guests to the Gallery will feel some of the experience of the place and the time of the photographs."

Buxton is owner/co-founder of Ad Hoc Art, a multi-faceted creative business committed to highlighting areas of street art, pop, illustration, graffiti, and print-making. He graduated with an MFA from Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, where he taught print-making until starting Peripheral Media Projects and Ad Hoc Art in Brooklyn. Buxton said, "It is fun to work collaboratively. Print-making as an art form is a collaborative or group process so the more people interacting the better." He currently lives and works in Londonderry and curates public and private art projects in New York City and beyond. Buxton runs the groundbreaking street art project: The Welling Court Mural Project in Queens, New York City. Celebrating the streets, solidarity, community, and culture, this is one of the best collections of contemporary street art on earth, with 150+ murals representing over 50 years of artists working in the public sphere.

MC Noyes is a visual artist who lives and works in Rockingham, and is known for his oil paintings of the landscape which are alive with color and movement, expressing feelings of nostalgia, doubt, and hope. He graduated with a BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and has lived and worked in Boston and New York City. When Noyes is not painting, promoting, or writing, he can be found pursuing his passions of pastry, chocolate making, music, and travel. Noyes says, "Being part of a brick and mortar gallery has brought great energy to my work and online sales."

Revitalization of the Exner Block

According to the Rockingham Area Land Trust, the $1.2 million restoration of the historic Exner Block at 7 Canal St., was completed in the summer of 2000. They believed that restoring the historic building, the Exner Block, was paramount to the revitalization of downtown. This singular structure contains charming historic details such as, wainscoting; pressed tin walls and ceilings; and solid wood doors (with original glass and traditional brass hardware). In designing this project, they took the opportunity to retain many of these elements while creating viable residential and commercial space. In 22 months a building that was virtually empty for over 60 years was restored to serve as a live/work setting for emerging artists and would help bring energy back to downtown Bellows Falls.

This restoration project was a joint effort of several organizations including Housing Vermont and The Rockingham Area Land Trust. RAMP (Rockingham Arts and Museum Project) raised awareness locally and regionally about the renovation project. RAMP currently oversees the process of filling the residential and retail spaces in the building. The project was an effort to combat sprawl and give tax incentives to historic districts to help focus on revitalizing the downtown area, to restore historic buildings and to celebrate the local community.     

Dunbar added, "The Exner Block is a registered historic building that was restored to create art spaces and artist living spaces in early 2000s with Federal and State HUD grant funding. We are fulfilling the mission of that work and increasing the presence of art in Rockingham."

Doreen Stoodley, executive director of the Greater Falls Regional Chamber of Commerce said, "Ad Hoc Gallery is a welcome addition to the village of BF. We're happy that they are here."

Original artwork in many mediums will be displayed at Ad Hoc Art Gallery. The gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and all other days by appointment. For more information about Ad Hoc Art Gallery, contact 802-289-0104, email 23canalstreetgallery@gmail.com or visit adhocart.org.

To subscribe to the Gallery Newsletter, "Commodified Creation," go to mcnoyes.com/email-newsletter

For more information on Garrison Buxton, visit garrison@adhocart.org or @thegarrisonbuxton

For more information on MC Noyes, visit, www.mcnoyes.com or facebook.com/mcnoyesart.




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