Interns and Volunteers!

Interns and Volunteers!

AVA Gallery and Art Center is thrilled to have an enthusiastic and talented group of Exhibition interns and volunteers this summer. Whether patching and painting gallery walls, curating the Staff and Intern Exhibition in the newly remodeled Member Gallery, hanging artwork for the 2019 Summer Juried Exhibition, organizing storage spaces, or fine tuning spreadsheets, these women do loads of work that allow us to operate at full speed this summer. When you see them in the building, say hello, ask about their future studies and plans, and wait to be impressed by their amazing resumes and collective knowledge!

AVA is very thankful for the 2019 Summer Interns who are generously sponsored by Gail and John Wasson.

(l-r) Annie Tilley, Elif Usuloglu, Allison Collins take a break and admire their handiwork in hanging the 2019 Summer Juried Exhibition. Not pictured is volunteer Amy Hansen.

Lobby Artist of the Month

Joseph Saginor is our Lobby Artist of the Month. Joseph’s artwork is on display in AVA’s lobby until the end of July. Each month we hope to highlight the artwork of a different artist renting one of the 20 studio spaces in the Carter-Kelsey building. Artwork by tenants is on display throughout the 2nd and 3rd floors, and is changed by the artists as their work progresses. Come take a look!

Joseph Saginor, He’s Leaving, Bye-Bye
Joseph Saginor, Untitled
Joseph Saginor, Morning, Nevis

Member Gallery Improvements

Big plans are under way in our Member Gallery! In an effort to make the space as beautiful as AVA’s main galleries, electrical conduits and a ventilation fan were removed to provide larger expanses of walls to hang art. A new flat file for member artists to store their work is in place, and a schedule of member artist exhibitions and socials will soon be published.

If you would like to be included in the Member Gallery Committee, the body responsible for planning and implementing member artist exhibitions and monthly social gatherings, please contact Interim Exhibition Manager Heidi Reynolds at or (603) 448-3117.

Introducing AVA’s Interim Exhibition Manager

We’re very excited to welcome Heidi Reynolds as AVA’s Interim Exhibition Manager! Heidi is a photographer and supporter of the arts who most recently worked in development at Northern Stage and Montshire Museum of Science. She has been an Upper Valley resident since 2008 and is thrilled to be working with the staff, donors, members, artists and volunteers at AVA!
Mila Pinigin, AVA’s accomplished Exhibition Manager since 2017, spent her last day at AVA on June 14th. She will pursue an advanced degree in Art History this fall in Florence, Italy. We wish her well!

Watercolor Wonders with Margaret Dwyer

By Sheryl Trainor

Margaret Dwyer can’t remember a time when she wasn’t an artist. “In my earliest memories, I always considered myself an artist. It’s something that was so intrinsic throughout my life that I can’t really define a starting point.” Her career as a practicing and teaching artist stretches back to her teenage years.

Her association with AVA began decades ago and she has become a popular teacher of watercolor, both by itself and in combination with other media. Her “Experimental Watermedia” class has been very popular and involves painting with plant material, breaking glass, and something she calls “the nun’s technique”– a little trick she learned in Catholic school.

But it is watercolor that is her true love. “I love the way that watercolor moves on its own and responds like no other medium. The paint falls off the brush with a mind of its own.”

Watercolor is generally understood as a difficult and finicky medium and sometimes disparaged as wimpy or pale. But not in Margaret’s capable hands. Watercolor “requires a response from the artist as opposed to wanting to be fully controlled. I think it is a very misunderstood medium. The saturation and vibrancy of hue and value that can be obtained is dramatic. It is also very responsive to many of the different experimental techniques that I love to try.”

Margaret finds inspiration in her own work through teaching others. “It inspires me to try new mediums and techniques, and to connect with other creative lifelong-learners. I have met many wonderful people through my teaching. Ideas and artistic methods are constantly in motion in my studio practice, and it is a joy to share that with others through teaching.”

This year, she is excited about a new chapter in her life. Margaret has been chosen to be the 2019 Artist in Residence at the Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park in Woodstock, VT. “I’ve been creating a body of work that reflects this beautiful park’s themes of nature and conservation. It will be my job to engage park visitors to the landscape through art.” Margaret will be on site frequently throughout the summer and fall in residence in the recently completed artist’s studio.

Margaret is kicking off her residency with a gathering in her private studio on the third floor of AVA’s Carter-Kelsey Building on May 10 from 5–7pm and on May 11 from 11am–4pm. Stop by and say hi!

Flourish: AVA’s 2019 Silent Auction


AVA’s silent auction fundraiser Flourish had a rejuvenated feel this year! Former Executive Director Bente Torjusen was back greeting people at the entrance to the galleries, Interim Director Hilde Ojibway mingled with party-goers inside, and the Fred Haas Trio kept the pace lively. The unpredictable spring weather co-operated with a beautiful evening, and the AVA spirit was alive and well!

So many of our AVA family participated to make this year’s silent auction a smashing success: staff, board members, and our incredible volunteers all pulled together to put on a fabulous party. AVA artists and members donated an amazing amount of high-quality artwork, and our local businesses outdid themselves with their donations this year. But most of all, it was the community of AVA supporters who came Saturday night and filled the galleries with their enthusiasm, dancing, and spirited bidding who made the night so special. Thank you everyone, for ensuring that AVA will flourish!

The Mudroom: What I Did for Money

Thursday, June 13  Food at 6:30pm  |  Storytelling at 7pm

Advance Mudroom tickets for AVA members are on sale now! The evening’s theme What I Did for Money will be brought to life as five or six pre-selected individuals will share personal accounts of their experiences of this theme. Delicious Asian food by Pon will be available for purchase before the performance. Music will be provided by the band Concrete and Shea.

This live-storytelling event offers an opportunity to meet new people, enjoy a fun evening with live music, and connect with friends.

Tickets are currently available online for Members. Tickets for the general public will be available on May 13.

Purchase Tickets  |  Become a Member

We would like to hear from storytellers of all ages and from all towns in the Upper Valley and beyond. Storytellers will be awarded an AVA membership and may bring two guests to enjoy the evening. For story submission, please include a very brief summary of your story (no more than 300 words) and a short bio (no more than 150 words) by May 10. We will select five or six stories from the submission pool and hold a rehearsal at AVA the Sunday before the performance.


Any questions may be directed to


Watch the last Mudroom: Under the Influence


Get Lost in All the Talent at the “Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition”

On Friday, February 15, AVA’s named galleries quickly filled up with people of all ages. Some arrived by the yellow school bus-full. All came to celebrate the artists whose work was selected for the 11th Annual Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition.

Featuring 120 artists representing 13 different high schools in the Upper Valley, the exhibition is an impressive showcase of the breadth and depth of creative young talent in our region.

The gallery was tinged with anticipation as the artists, their teachers, families, and friends awaited the awards ceremony, announcing the winners and honorable mentions in each of 13 categories, from analog photography and painting to woodworking and wearable art.

Morgan Freeman, Native American Art Fellow at the Hood Museum of Art, juried this year’s exhibition. Morgan encouraged participating artists to approach her after the award ceremony to discuss their work together. When Mila Pinigin, Exhibition Manager at AVA, asked for a round of applause for “all of the art teachers that made this event possible” the room erupted with cheers from students and families alike.

The show ends March 8, with a High School Art Portfolio Review Day from 10am–1pm. Come get lost in all of the talent!

AVA congratulates this year’s High School Exhibition winners in each category:

Analog Photography: David Hutchinson, “Honda,” Newport High School
Ceramics: Emilee Lenning, “Gurgling Fish Pitcher,” Hanover High School
Digital Art: Claire Yegian, “Horizons,” Hanover High School
Digital Photography: Victoria Michienzi, “Visibility,” Holderness School
Drawing: Nathan Stark, “The Teacher’s Desk,” Newport High School
Fiber: Poppy Tans, “Lady,” The Sharon Academy
Furniture: Ben Daniels, “Coffee Table,” Proctor Academy
Mixed Media: Oscar Fredette, “adikos,” Stevens High School
Painting: Ruoqian Chu, “Life Struggle,” Kimball Union Academy
Printmaking: William Jones, “Window to the Soul,” Mascoma Valley Regional High School
Sculpture: Brianna Nemi, “Untitled,” Stevens High School
Wearable Art: Aanan Merritt, “Contrasting Stone Set Earrings,” Hanover High School
Environmental Message: Alice Pham Le, “Whale in a Plastic Bottle,” Kimball Union Academy

Ceramics: Ruoqian Chu, “Pierced Vessel,” Kimball Union Academy
Ceramics: Jason Wolstenholme, “Zipper Mugs,”Thetford Academy
Drawing: Nicole Whatley, “Jerry,” Hartford High School
Drawing: Zoe Napier, “Brother & Sister,” Woodstock Union High School
Mixed Media: Aidan Doherty, “Play With Me,” Proctor Academy
Painting: Kate Lubell, “Me Under the Piano,” Hanover High School
Painting: Annie Zhao, “Jiufen Street,” Lebanon High School
Sculpture: Ella Shinnlinger, “Guardian of the Crystal Cage,” Mascoma Valley Regional High School
Wearable Art: Falcon Jaacks, “1860s Era Polonaise Paletot,” Hanover High School
Environmental Message: Fallon Lavertue, “Abeille,” Stevens High School

Special Thanks To Our Sponsors

Welcome Hildegard Ojibway

February 25, 2019

The AVA community and Board of Directors are pleased to welcome Hildegard Ojibway as interim Executive Director to AVA Gallery and Art Center beginning February 25, 2019. Hilde is a long-time Upper Valley resident and has been Executive Director of LISTEN Community Services and the Good Neighbor Health Clinic & Red Logan Dental Clinic.

More recently, she identified a need for interim administrative services in the area and has specialized in this capacity, serving as interim Executive Director at Headrest, Good Neighbor Health Clinic, Vital Communities, and Hannah House.

Hilde also served as a State Representative in the Vermont House of Representatives from 2006-2008. She is a singer/songwriter and has appeared in AVA’s Mudroom as part of the band, “Never Too Late,” and most recently as a storyteller.

AVA is also pleased to welcome Bente Torjusen, who served for 30 years as AVA’s Executive Director until 2016, as Strategic Advisor in this interim period.

The search for a permanent Executive Director will begin immediately.

AVA is buzzing with activity! Hilde Ojibway notes, “I love the way AVA engages people of all ages and abilities. The current exhibit of art by area high school students is a great example of how AVA encourages creative development and provides ways to showcase that art throughout the community.”

We hope you will attend the High School Show now on display in the galleries through March 8, 2019. There are exciting educational opportunities for artists of all ages and levels of experience in our new spring and summer classes and camps brochure which can be found here. Finally, please join us for our Annual Silent Auction Party on Saturday, April 6 to celebrate art in our lives and enjoy the company of other members of the AVA community.