By ALEX HANSON – 3/11/20
Valley News Staff Writer
Large public gatherings are whatever the opposite of “all the rage” is right now.
That’s a shame, as there’s a milestone that deserves to be celebrated by the masses. Thirty years ago, AVA Gallery and Art Center opened its first exhibition in the ground floor of the H.W. Carter and Sons clothing factory in Lebanon.
The date was March 16, 1990. Founded in 1973, AVA had occupied space in a Norwich barn and in a second-floor space behind the Dartmouth Bookstore in Hanover. It was largely by artists and for artists.
The move to Lebanon changed that. In addition to the first-floor gallery, AVA also leased a teaching studio on the factory’s second floor. Over the years, AVA and its growing community of artists and students rented out more and more of the former factory. AVA acquired the building in 2003 and later renovated it and added a Sculptural Studies Building. Now, it is possibly the most comprehensive center for the visual arts in New England, with dozens of exhibitions, workshops, classes and camps taking place each year.
Thanks to the coronavirus, there will be no reenactment of that first opening night at 11 Bank St. But to celebrate the anniversary, AVA is offering a membership deal. On Monday, a person can become a new member of AVA for $30 (it usually costs $55), and a family can join for $45 (instead of $75).
And let’s hope there’s no pandemic in 2023, when AVA celebrates its 50th birthday.
AVA will hold a gathering from 5 to 7 p.m. on Friday, an opening reception for “Solitude,” a show of photographs by Carla Kimball in AVA’s Members Gallery. A gallery talk is planned for 6 p.m on April 9. Also on view at AVA, black and white photographs of Lebanon by the late Cornelia Rahmelow.