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Art Notes: New Art Gallery Opens in Windsor

Dianne Jacques is the owner of Arabella Gallery and Gifts in Windsor, Vt., Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Jacques sells her jewelry and works by several local artists from her Main Street storefront. 
(Valley News - James M. Patterson)

Dianne Jacques is the owner of Arabella Gallery and Gifts in Windsor, Vt., Tuesday, July 29, 2014. Jacques sells her jewelry and works by several local artists from her Main Street storefront. (Valley News - James M. Patterson) Purchase photo reprints »

Opening an art gallery carries arguably the same level of risk as opening a new restaurant: The first few years can make or break you, and you’re all but guaranteed not to earn back the investment immediately. But for Dianne Jacques, who opened Arabella, a gallery specializing in prints and jewelry, on Main Street in Windsor last December, the potential benefits outweighed the uncertainties.

“If not now, when?” Jacques, who is in her 50s, said. “I’d always toyed with the idea of having a gallery.” Its name came to her, she said, in a dream.

Running a gallery isn’t new to her. With her sister and stepmother, she’d operated a gallery in Hawaii in the 1990s, and then worked at a gallery in Portland, Ore. She moved with her husband, David Jacques, to Windsor four years ago from Maine when he took a job as a telecommunications manager at the VA Medical Center in White River Junction.

She began making jewelry intensively in 2007, has worked in sumi-e, the Asian art form of depicting scenes from nature on white paper with black ink, and also makes hats by hand, some of which she has sold at Revolution in White River Junction.

Windsor might not be the obvious place to open a gallery, given that it’s a little off the beaten track. “It’s interesting being in Windsor, it’s not Hanover; it’s not quite as affluent,” Jacques said. But since December, she said, she has established a steady customer base, both local residents and second-home owners, as well as some tourists passing through.

“Word of mouth seems to be the best advertising,” she said.

Jacques, who accepts works on consignment, wants to support local artists and artisans working in printmaking, pastel, glass, textiles, ceramics and jewelry. Currently she sells jewelry made by herself, and by Kim Paquette, of Ascutney, and Kitty Stoykovich, of Concord. She does not accept or show any work made outside New England, and focuses on artists in Vermont and New Hampshire.

She may not personally care for a particular work of art, but recognizes that owning a gallery means embracing techniques and subjects that she might otherwise avoid. “I like a wide variety (of media and art) because art is such an individual taste,” Jacques said. What’s been more difficult, she added, is turning away work that she knows is not right for her gallery or is undeveloped technically.

The gallery is in a space once occupied by Rockwood Insurance Agency, which moved down the street, said Town Manager Tom Marsh. Windsor is one of 24 Vermont towns participating in the state’s Downtown Program, which seeks to preserve and revitalize historic districts; it long endured a reputation as a hardscrabble town that suffered its own brand of urban blight with the state prison and the deteriorated Armory Block, now renovated. But in the last 18 months new businesses have opened on and near Main Street, including Arabella and Windsor Auction Center. The Windsor Station restaurant, in the old train depot, has been under new ownership since last year.

“Part of the downtown effort is to keep expectations a little low and build organically from a smaller scale to a bigger scale,” Marsh said. The town hopes that Main Street’s proximity to Harpoon Brewery and Simon Pearce’s factory outlet and glass-blowing facility will enourage visitors to mosey downtown.

People who want to start businesses in Windsor are encouraged to work with the town, said Marsh, because not only can the town offer management consultation, but also access to tax stabilization and a revolving loan fund. In order to get that, though, he said, “(people) need a viable business plan before they come ask the town for money.”

Part of being a new business owner in town, said Marsh, is to engage with the community beyond the storefront. “Whether you’re in Woodstock or Windsor you need a grasp of street traffic,” he said. To that end, Jacques will also offer classes in the fall in pastels and oils.

Jacques has accepted that there will likely be a few years of paying out of pocket before she begins to see a return. What drives her is a passion for art and jewelry, and she sees that same intensity in the customers who come through the door.

“I let them guide me rather than me trying to guide them,” she said. She recalled the example of a couple in their 20s who came in early on and were taken by one work of a tree which seemed to change color depending on the light and what time of day it was. They looked and looked at it, but left without it; a few days later they came back to buy it.

“Art is an emotional investment,” Jacques said.

For more information go to facebook.com/arabellagallery or call 802-674-5111.

Related: This Saturday in downtown Windsor the town has organized “Elements of Windsor,” a day-long celebration, from noon into the evening, that will feature artists working “en plein air,” a local potter doing demonstrations, live music from local bands, an acoustic open mic performance and art exhibits, among other events. All are free of charge and open to the public near the Welcome Center on Depot Street. For more information contact Kerry Clifford at kclifford05089@yahoo.com, or look for “Elements of Windsor” on Facebook.

Openings

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum in Meriden opens a memorial exhibition for Aya Itagaki, who died last winter, with a reception Saturday afternoon, 3 to 6. A talk about the longtime Upper Valley artist’s work is planned for 4 p.m. The exhibition, which had been planned for Itagaki’s 80th birthday, includes work in a variety of media. The show will be open through Sept. 14. Also opening is an exhibition of Aidron Duckworth’s self-portraits.

C ider Hill Gallery in Windsor will feature the decorative urns of Steven Proctor, which are on view throughout Cider Hill’s expansive gardens, with an opening reception Friday evening from 5 to 7 p.m. The tempera paintings of Gary Milek, co-owner of Cider Hill, are also on view through the summer.

Like many artists, Carol Lippman draws on nature for inspiration. A show of her prints “Carol Lippman: Theme and Variations” opens tomorrow night with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio as part of White River Junction’s First Friday celebrations. Using images of birds’ nests, which are often hidden in plain sight, Lippman communicates nature’s beauty and resilience. Her show will be up through Aug . 31.

Ongoing

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum , Meriden. The sculptures of Bob Shannahan and Fitzhugh Karol are on view through Nov. 2.

Art on the River Gallery , Springfield. “802: Just Vermont,” a photography show by artists Goldie May and John Sinclair continues through Aug . 19.

Artistree , Woodstock. “Unbound: Vol. IV,” a juried exhibition of books as art and sculpture is on view through Aug. 25.

AVA Gallery , Lebanon. Works by the award winners from last summer’s juried exhibition are on view through Aug. 27 with works by Joseph Saginor, Michael Heffernan, Toby Bartles and photographer Leah Berry. “Horses and Hounds,” an exhibit of works by Derek Bell and Christine Orcutt Henderson, is also on display through Aug. 27.

Big Town Galler y, Rochester , Vt. “A World of Wonder,” an exhibition of early 20th century wooden games and toys collected by Strafford artist Peter Thomashow, continues through Aug. 24.

Chandler Gallery , Randolph. “Floral Seductions,” a show including the works of nearly 30 artists, runs through Aug . 24. An exhibit of portrait and landscape paintings by Andy Newman continues through Aug. 24.

D artmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center , Lebanon. The works of artists Jeanne Amato, Arief Suriawinata, Wendy Tucker, Mark Vernon, and the Upper Valley Ship Modelers Guild are on view through September.

Great Hall , Springfield , Vt. Jack Rowell’s exhibition of photographs of The Hale Street Gang can be seen at the Great Hall t hrough Oct. 10. Also exhibiting is Randolph designer and artist Phil Godenschwager.

Hood Museum of Art , Hanover. The Hood Museum of Art hosts “The Art of Weapons: Selections from the African Collection,” on view through Dec . 20.

Hopkins Center , Dartmouth College, Hanover. A show of drawings by artists Charles Spurrier, Elizabeth Mayor, Christopher Schade, Jane South, Joey Slaughter and Doug Wirls is on view in the Strauss Gallery through Aug. 31. Paintings by Luca Molnar and photographs by Matt Storm, both recipients of the Department of Studio Art’s Perspectives on Design (POD) Award, are up in the Jaffe-Fried Gallery, also through Aug. 31.

Howe Library , Hanover. Paintings and Etchings by Marilyn Milham and Owen McDowell are on view through Aug. 27.

Kilton Public Library , West Lebanon. A show of photographs by Brenna Colt, “hmmmm......it made sense at the time” are on view in the Gallery at the Kilton Public Library through Sept. 22 .

Library Arts Center and Studio, Newport. Watercolors by Gerard Doucette are on view through Friday.

Long River Studio , Lyme. “Of Fabric, Ink, Mud and Paper,” a show of work by brother and sister John Quimby and Jane Quimby, continues through Aug . 15.

Main Street Museum , White River Junction. David Fairbanks Ford’s homage to Peter the Great’s ethnographic and anthropological museum the Kunstkamera, with new exhibits and acquisitions, is on view through Jan. 15 .

Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site , Cornish. “The Hairstyle Files: Hirsute Gentlemen and Coiffured Ladies of the Gilded Age,” an exhibit of relief sculptures by Saint-Gaudens , continues through Oct. 31.

Scavenger Gallery , White River Junction. The works of Ben Peberdy and W. David Powell are on view through August.

Nicola Smith can be reached at nsmith@vnews.com.