BRATTLEBORO — Harmony Collective, an artist-run gallery at 49 Elliot St., has lived most of its life during the pandemic.
When the gallery opened in October of 2019, founders Kay Curtis and Kate Greenough acknowledged the usual difficulties of running a gallery, but were eager to provide a space that Brattleboro had been missing.
The mission of the Harmony Collective is “to be an extraordinary place for artists and art lovers, where artists benefit from the sales of their work.” The collective is made up of 33 local artists, working in almost as many mediums. Artists pay a membership fee and monthly dues, and contribute eight hours a month working the front desk. The gallery takes only 15% from art sales, so that artists receive the maximum benefit. The gallery is open 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day, seven days a week, with the exception of major holidays.
There was a time when it seemed like the gallery wouldn’t make it.
In July of 2020, the collective held its biannual members meeting in a field, shouting to be heard in a socially distanced circle. The collective had been closed for two and a half months, and members were seriously considering closing, due to fear of exposure and the cost of staying open in a year with almost no tourism.
“We decided to stay open,” Kay Curtis said. “We decided to keep trying.”
The result was their most successful holiday season ever, though the comparison is tricky. “We’ve mostly only been open during the pandemic, so it’s hard to say how we would be doing in any other year,” Kate Greenough said.
While sales have been slower since the New Year, there have been many stories of community and delight gathered by the artists working the desk. A young couple found a piece for their first apartment together. Three sisters were moved to tears by a wood carving of a tree by Tom Alberico, which they bought in their late brother’s memory. A customer worried that the artist behind the desk wasn’t wearing a mask, but soon realized it was one of Gayle Marie Weitz’s human-scale animal sculptures, and ran in to share a laugh, masks on.
The collective provides masks and hand sanitizer for all customers and has plexiglass around the register, in line with COVID prevention measures. The gallery is 1,600 square feet, giving a capacity of 8, according to the State of Vermont’s COVID Resource Center.
The art on offer varies hugely in style, size and price.
“Some artists even offer work on a sliding scale, like Jonas Fricke’s prints and screen-printed clothing,” Marta Bernbaum noted.
“The gallery is a vibrant addition to the downtown and to the community,” oil painter Gabriella Martin said.
“If you love art, or even if you just want to get out of your house for a half hour, put on a mask and come to the gallery. There’s always an artist on staff to talk to, and something new to look at,” Ross Smart said.
“Come by, and buy art!” said member Nina Salvatore, an artist from Putney who makes hand-built ceramics. “There is work of every shape, size and price, something unique for everyone. I bought myself an encaustic painting by Kathie Capcara and I just love it.”
Harmony Collective is a part of Brattleboro Gallery Walk on May 7. There will be a silent auction of select pieces open for bidding from May 1 to May 7.
Find out more about the Harmony Collective via their website, harmonyartsbrattleboro.com.