When John and Jennifer Churchman opened the ArtHound Gallery in Essex, Vermont in the Fall of 2019, it was one of the largest in New England. Since then, they have added more gallery space and with 13,000 square feet of light-filled interior, it is ‘the’ largest. That kind of space makes it possible for them to include more than 350 Vermont artists — including painters, sculptors, glass blowers, potters, woodworkers and many artisans. The roster includes well established names as well as emerging artists.
The ArtHound Gallery is in a central location in what was formerly a shopping enclave and has been reborn as The Essex Experience — all but one establishment is local and devoted to just that, an experience, whether that be art gallery hopping, fine dining, sipping wine, chilling in a salt spa or enjoying musical concerts on the green.
Both the gallery and the marketplace are excellent examples of re-inventing viable community spaces that were stagnant from the decline in foot traffic and changing economic environments after the pandemic shutdowns. Today, both establishments are thriving and growing their client base.
If the Churchman name sounds familiar, that may be because you’ve heard of the New York Times best-selling
children’s books co-authored by the couple (Jennifer is the writer and John is the illustrator): “The SheepOver,” featuring Sweet Pea & Friends. The Churchmans also own and manage Moonrise Farm that’s located a little up the road from the Essex Experience where the characters in the book reside: dogs, sheep, llamas, chickens and other animals that comprise this walking farm. The only product that leaves the farm is alpaca wool. Otherwise, the animals live a happy life