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Art Notes: Woodstock’s Artistree Makes Plans for a New Home

  • Kathleen Dolan, executive director of Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock, and Mark van Gulden, the center’s music director, are photographed at the planned new site of the center in South Pomfret on Monday. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Kathleen Dolan, executive director of Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock, and Mark van Gulden, the center’s music director, are photographed at the planned new site of the center in South Pomfret on Monday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock has bought a house and barn in South Pomfret to convert into a new arts center. (Valley News - Libby March)

    Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock has bought a house and barn in South Pomfret to convert into a new arts center. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »

  • Kathleen Dolan, executive director of Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock, and Mark van Gulden, the center’s music director, are photographed at the planned new site of the center in South Pomfret on Monday. (Valley News - Libby March)
  • Artistree Community Art Center in Woodstock has bought a house and barn in South Pomfret to convert into a new arts center. (Valley News - Libby March)

After a couple of years running music programs for preschool children in a Woodstock storefront, Kathleen Dolan was ready to call it quits. Strong initial interest had slackened, and rent on her Central Street location was steep.

But when she started talking about closing down, “suddenly I was getting all this participation,” said Dolan.

That was in 2005, and she changed direction, moved into the Mount Tom Building on Route 12, north of Woodstock village, and set about expanding. Artistree Community Arts Center and Gallery, and Dolan’s original enterprise, Purple Crayon Productions, now occupy nearly all of the former ski lodge.

A much larger expansion is in the works. This week, Artistree announced plans to renovate a farmhouse and neighboring historic barn in South Pomfret into a new visual and performing arts center.

“We’re kind of busting at the seams,” said Tayo Skarrow, director of the nonprofit arts center.

Skarrow and Dolan, who remains the center’s executive director, said the new Artistree will accommodate the growing demand for art classes and programs in the Woodstock area in a space that was designed for the arts.

“I think it’s going to be similar to what’s happening here,” Dolan said in an interview in the Mount Tom Building.

The nearly 5,000-square-foot farmhouse will house the Artistree Gallery on the ground floor, and expressive arts therapy offices on the second floor.

The three-story, 8,000-square-foot red barn will retain its size and shape but be thoroughly renovated to house arts classes and performances. The ground floor will feature children’s classrooms for visual art and movement and a clay and sculpture studio, while adult art classrooms will take up the second floor. Performances and dance classes will be held on the third floor, which will also have some practice and music lesson rooms. A central elevator will connect the floors.

The performance space will have around 80 seats, far smaller than Woodstock’s Town Hall Theatre, but large enough for smaller acts in search of a venue between Manchester and Burlington.

During a brief tour on Monday, the barn still was recognizable as an agricultural building. Garlic hung in bunches in the milkhouse window and the ground floor still has metal stanchions and concrete feed troughs for dairy cows.

Artistree received a required zoning permit from the town in September, but still needs the Selectboard’s permission to install a second driveway, town officials said. Construction could begin as early as spring and be completed by spring or summer 2014.

The transformation of the barn, and a much lighter renovation of the house, is estimated at $3.4 million, including the purchase price of the property. Artistree’s leadership hopes the final tab is less than $3 million, said Mark van Gulden, the center’s music director.

Typically, a nonprofit undertakes a long capital campaign to build a project such as the renovation Artistree has planned, first securing larger donations, then soliciting the support of the community at large in the form of small pledges.

The Artistree project is “all privately funded, by me,” said Dolan, whose father is Charles F. Dolan, the founder of Cablevision and HBO. She is a member of the Cablevision board and is on the boards of the Dolan Family Foundation and the Vermont College of Fine Arts, from which she received a masters of fine arts in visual art in 1995. She also holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a masters degree in mental health counseling.

Thus far, Dolan has provided much of the funding for Artistree through a foundation, and after the new center is built, she said, it will operate with an endowment.

“It’s worked out for me, it’s worked out for the community,” she said.

Of Note

“Crossing Cultures: The Owen and Wagner Collection of Contemporary Aboriginal Australian Art at the Hood Museum of Art,” is on view through Sunday in Hanover. A final tour of the show is slated for Saturday afternoon at 2.

∎ Artistree Gallery in Woodstock has issued a call to artists for the third annual installment of “Unbound,” an exhibition that encourages a reimagining of the book. The show is open to all artists 18 and older working in New England and New York. Submissions must be postmarked or emailed by June 15 with a $30 entry fee.

∎ Printmaker Lois Beatty will demonstrate how to make monotypes Saturday morning at 11 at Two Rivers Printmaking Studio. And on March 16 and 17, Beatty will lead a session of Monotype Madness, one of the studio’s signature workshops. The demo is free, but the workshop costs $195 plus a $20 materials fee.

Openings and Receptions

∎ Norwich Public Library opens an exhibition of photographs by Elizabeth Dean Hermann and traditional and contemporary textiles from India with a reception tomorrow evening, 5 to 7. The opening will feature a screening of two short documentary films.

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon opens an exhibition of 13 vintage Dartmouth Winter Carnival posters today. The show will run in conjunction with AVA’s annual Silent Auction, which opens March 16. Both shows will end at the Silent Auction Party on March 23. Tickets are available now.

∎ “Underwater,” an exhibition of recent large oil paintings by Strafford artist Micki Colbeck, is on view at the Vermont Supreme Court in Montpelier. An opening reception is planned for this evening, 5 to 7.

Classes and Workshops

The Newport Library Arts Center LAC is getting ready to host its second annual Peeps Diorama Contest and is holding an open studio Tuesday evening, 5 to 7, where entrants can work on their dioramas. Submissions are due by 4 p.m., March 21, and winners will be announced at a reception the following night. It costs $5 to enter. See the LAC’s website, libraryartscenter.org, for more information.

Last Chance

Newport’s Library Arts Center hosts its annual “Selections Exhibition” through tomorrow. The “Selections” show draws on the LAC’s annual juried exhibition. This year’s selected artists are Louis J. Cassorla of Newport; Betsy Derrick of Hanover; Pippa Drew of Post Mills; Margaret Dwyer of New London; Georgina Forbes of Norwich; Evan Horback of Newbury, N.H.; and Suzanne Whittaker of Bedford, N.H.

∎ “Survival Soup,” an exhibition at the Main Street Museum, features recent work by Travis Dunning and Matt Riley, who live in Stockbridge, Vt., and Seth Tracy, a Randolph native, along with a small display of work by Drew and Ben Peberdy of White River Junction. Open through tomorrow.

∎ Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery at Colby-Sawyer College in New London exhibits a travelling show of work by members of the Boston Printmakers, through tomorrow.

∎ Dartmouth’s Studio Art Exhibition Program shows “Everything is on the Table,” sculpture by artist-in-residence John Newman, in the Hopkins Center’s Jaffe-Friede Gallery through Sunday.

Ongoing

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction exhibits work by non-member faculty, including Sara Amos, Amparo Carvajal-Hufschmid, Javier Cintron, Brian Cohen, Dan Gottsegen, Betsey Garand, Joel Janowitz, Ilana Manolson, Lynn Newcomb, Clemente Orozco, Bob Siegelman, Rebekah Tolley, Ellen Wineberg and Bert Yarborough.

∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows prints by Lois Beatty, jewelry by Scavenger owner Stacy Hopkins, and work by Toby Bartles, Ria Blaas, Ben Peberdy and David Powell.

∎ “How People Make Things,” an exhibition that looks at how all sorts of objects are made, is on view at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich through June 2. Admission to the Montshire is $12 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 17.

∎ Hanover’s Howe Library hosts the 37th annual Elden Murray Photographic Exhibition and Competition.

∎ Kimball Union Academy in Meriden continues its series of bicentennial art exhibitions with a show by graduates Emilie Bosworth-Clemmens, Tony Bragg and Nat Voss in the school’s Taylor Gallery. The show is on view through April 6, but the gallery is closed March 1 to 20 for school break.

∎ Nuance Gallery in Windsor hosts “Resiliency,” featuring work by Joyce Harden and Nance Silliman.

∎ Bigtown Gallery in Rochester continues a show of small works by the impressive roster of artists the gallery represents through March.

∎ Cafe 232 in South Strafford is showing paintings by the late Harlow Lent through the winter.

∎ Hartland Library hosts “Sundrenched Color,” paintings by Katheryne B. Sharp.

∎ “American Wilderness and Habitats: Oils and Watercolors,” an exhibition of paintings by South Royalton artist Joan Hoffmann, is on view at the Tunbridge Public Library.

Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Notices must arrive two weeks prior to the Thursday before an event. Send email to artnotes@vnews.com.