by SARA FARIZAN
FRAMINGHAM- The opening of a new gallery is a culmination hard work, creative energies, business savvy and comes from a need to give to the art community. Fountain Street Fine Art is the brainchild of Cheryl Clinton, a mixed media artist and Marie Craig, a photographer. Fountain Street has over 70 working artist studios, many of which will be open to the public this April for Open Studio Weekend. Artscope publisher Kaveh Mojtabai recently had the pleasure of corresponding with co-founder Cheryl Clinton about what the studio means to her.
Artscope: Can you give us some background on how you went about this project?
Cheryl Clinton: The idea of creating a gallery space with the Bancroft Building has been in my mind since I moved to my 3rd floor studio space in December of 1996. Life, timing, available space never seemed to line up quite right, until now. I mentioned my idea to a like minded artist/photographer, Marie Craig. She was excited about the concept and was interested in finding a way to make it happen. We began to put plans in place, so we would be ready to jump if an appropriate space opened up. This conversation started during the summer of 2010. As I pulled into the Bancroft Building in mid October 2010, I was greeted by our very enthusiastic building manager, Michael DiCamillo, telling me “You have to see this space!” It’s location was perfect, it’s condition was not. But ignoring the warning bells in our heads, Marie & I gave our deposit within 24hours, knowing space like this only opens every 25 years or so in this building.
Artscope: What was an exciting experience in all this?
Cheryl Clinton: With tremendous support from our landlord, Richard Goldman and his staff, great patience of our families and a rotating crew of kind volunteers, we have been able to transform the space into Fountain Street Fine Art Gallery. The process has not been without its bumps and surprises, both pleasant and unpleasant. The kindness and generosity of our first floor neighbors offering thoughtful words of encouragement, loaning chairs so we did not have to sit on the floor, and even cash to buy pizza for our volunteer painting crew, has done a lot to keep us moving forward.
Artscope: Can you tell us a little about your first show “Unscripted” and what the process for finding art and artists was like?
Cheryl Clinton: Once we put out the call for art for our first exhibit, we began to wonder, “will any one come?” The answer was yes! 80 artists came with a total of 220 pieces of art. Watching Katherine French, Director of the Danforth Museum move through the gallery selecting work was a great education in jurying and curating a show. Installing the 117 pieces selected was no easy task. What once seemed like a cavernous space we could never fill, suddenly felt too small! The range of media and quality of work was very exciting to see. Artists from all over Massachusetts came to submit work. Everyone who came expressed great enthusuasim about the gallery and the possiblities it holds for them and the surrounding communtties. Returning work to artists who were not selected, was not a task we were looking forward to. Being artist ourselves, we know how disappointing it is to receive the “no thanks” notification. To our surprise, it was not an entirely unpleasant experience. We had a chance to chat with these artists about the jury process which (we hope) was helpful to them. Also in several instances it worked in the artist’s favor to get the work back so quickly, as they had other immediate opportunities to show in other places.
Fountain Street Fine Art will celebrate its Grand Opening with “unscripted”, a group show consisting of 117 works of art in various mediums including sculpture, photography and painting. The works of art were selected out of a group of 220 pieces by noted Director of the Danforth Museum, Katherine French. The exhibit will run from January 27th-February 27th and the Opening Reception will be held on Saturday, February 5th from 5-8 pm. The opening reception is free to the public and will include music from three piece band Second Story. For more information visit http://fountainstreetfineart.com.