Find the ‘Best of NH’ Crowded Around Lebanon’s Colburn Park

May 9, 2018
By Tom Haushalter

It isn’t for the recognition that AVA makes art happen for the Upper Valley community. But when the honor comes from the community itself, we’re especially humbled.

New Hampshire Magazine recently announced its annual “Best of NH 2018” list, including everything from the state’s best antiques shop to its best martini, as voted on by its readers.

And the readers have spoken, choosing AVA Gallery & Art Center as New Hampshire’s Best Art Gallery.

The acknowledgment highlights how much it means to the community that AVA continue to foster creative expression. From featured exhibits in our gallery space to metalworking classes in the new Sculptural Studies building, from the popular Mudroom storytelling series to the annual High School Exhibition—AVA’s mission to provide everyone with opportunities to connect with art has earned an important vote of confidence.

Those same New Hampshire Magazine readers had even more love to spread to Lebanon mainstays. The coffee artists at Lucky’s Coffee Garage were recognized as “Best Coffee in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region.” And on the other end of Colburn Park, Salt hill Pub may now bask in the honor of having the “Best Burger in the Dartmouth/Lake Sunapee Region.”
Great art, great coffee and burgers—the stuff that happiness is made of. And yet we know these only scratch the surface of the amazing art and music and food and drink to discover and explore in the Upper Valley.

National Trust for Historic Preservation Features AVA in a New Article

National Trust for Historic Preservation AVA Article


The National Trust for Historic Preservation is featuring AVA in their recent article, From Factory to Art Gallery in Lebanon, NH.

The article begins:

Adaptively reusing an old building can have benefits both tangible and intangible. Just ask Bente Torjusen, executive director of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, New Hampshire.

Several years ago, the organization purchased and renovated the 1850s former H.W. Carter & Sons overalls factory and turned it into an energy-efficient art center with studios, classrooms, and exhibition space. When we talked with Torjusen about local travel ideas for the Fall 2015 issue of Preservation magazine, we found the AVA Gallery story so interesting that we asked her to elaborate on it. Excerpts from our conversation with her are below.


Click here to read it all.

Accolades for AVA

Last November, during the presentation of the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC) Business and Community Leadership Awards, much praise was bestowed upon AVA. As noted in our previous publication, AVA was the recipient of the “2011 Business Innovator of the Year Award”—one of four HACC awards.

Each of the awardees had sponsors who, in their eloquent speeches, succinctly summarized the specific achievements that earned their awards. AVA was deeply honored to be sponsored by longtime supporters Jane Kitchel and Peter McLaughlin of Chicago Soft. In her lovely presentation, Jane emphasized that she and her husband Peter appreciated the wealth of inclusive art programming that AVA offers. She went on to say that they were particularly impressed with “AVA’s ability and desire to reach outside of their own interests and bring value and art to unrelated organizations, populations and programs.”

While Peter was unable to be present at the festivities, Jane said that his many years of service to the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts had made him appreciate, with great pride, that AVA holds a special position among arts organizations in the state. She concluded her speech by saying that Peter believed it was AVA’s “willingness to take programmatic risks while demonstrating fiscal prudence that has allowed them to not only sustain, but to thrive during tumultuous times.”

We wish to express our gratitude to Peter and Jane for their generous support and gracious sentiments; to former AVA Chair Linda Roesch, who spoke compellingly about AVA; and to Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce for so masterfully organizing the award ceremony and producing the impressive program for the event. (This publication showcases AVA in a stunning double-page color spread.) Finally, we wish to congratulate our fellow winners: Advance Transit; Julia Griffin, Hanover’s Town Manager; and Lou’s Restaurant.

AVA’s Architect Named New Hampshire’s “Sustainable Designer of the Year”

C. Stuart White, Jr., who headed Banwell Architects’ superb design team for AVA’s building renovation, has received yet another prestigious award. Last November, Stu was honored with the Sustainable Designer of the Year Award by the New Hampshire Chapter of The United States Green Building Council. In addition to being cited for his recent achievements (including AVA’s LEED Gold-certified building), Stu was also celebrated for his “lifelong commitment to innovation in the sustainable design industry.”

AVA Receives a Hanover Chamber 2011 Business Innovator Award!

We are thrilled to announce that AVA Gallery and Art Center will receive the 2011 Business Innovator of the Year Award from the Hanover Area Chamber of Commerce (HACC). HACC will present four awards to individuals and businesses who, in accordance with the chamber’s mission, have contributed in various ways to invigorate the economic health of the Upper Valley, while adding to its well-being.

The Business Innovator Award, to be presented during a festive ceremony at Dartmouth College’s Hopkins Center on November 15, 2011, is “given to an area business whose ingenuity and creativity enhanced the vitality of the community.” The award notification letter notes “how AVA has evolved into a critically important contributor to the culture, economy and lifestyle of the Upper Valley.” It also emphasizes how AVA has succeeded in bringing together “disparate people and organizations” to create “a regional art center where people of all ages and experiences can come to pursue personal interests that continue to elevate the profile of the arts in the Upper Valley.”

Doug Wise, HACC’s Leadership Awards Event Chair, points out that “all four of this year’s winners are strongly committed to sustainability and the ‘greening’ of the Upper Valley.”

Doug states, “AVA’s impact in Lebanon and beyond is awesome!”… a claim we will surely not refute!

AVA’s 11 Bank Street Building Honored with Multiple Awards

Since 2007, when AVA finally reopened the doors to its newly renovated 11 Bank Street building, the awards have been coming in:

June 2008. Our renovation receives a Plan-NH Merit Award for Excellence in Planning, Design and Development.

November 2008. Our renovation is awarded LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold-Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.

December 2008. The American Institute of Architects – VT Chapter, gives Banwell Architects of Lebanon, NH a Citation Award for Excellence in Design in the Historic/Preservation/Restoration category for the AVA project.

September 2009. The project’s construction company, Trumbull-Nelson of Hanover, NH, receives an Award for Excellence in Construction from the NH and VT Associated Builders and Contractors.

October 2010, AVA is one of six organizations nationwide to receive a MetLife Foundation Innovative Space Award based upon the merits of the renovation.

AVA Awarded LINC / MetLife Innovative Spaces Award

Leveraging Investments in Creativity (LINC) and MetLife Foundation recently announced that AVA Gallery and Art Center (AVA/Alliance for the Visual Arts) in Lebanon, NH is one of six winners of a 2010 MetLife Foundation Innovative Space Award. This highly competitive national award recognizes outstanding efforts in the design and development of affordable space for artists, an integral part of LINC’s Space for Change: Building Communities through Innovative Art Spaces program. “The winning organizations,” states a press release issued by LINC and MetLife, “provide a firm base from which artists may pursue their work while simultaneously contributing to shaping vibrant, healthy communities.” The six winning projects were selected from nearly 100 applicants from 37 states. “The MetLife Foundation Innovative Space Awards acknowledge best practices in the field of artist space development,” said Dennis White, President and CEO of MetLife Foundation. “We are proud to partner with LINC to recognize outstanding programs and the important role that art plays in our communities.”

“Artists need affordable and appropriate work spaces to create new work. The recipients of the 2010 MetLife Innovative Space Awards address this challenge in diverse ways, offering solutions that foster creativity, spark neighborhood revitalization and invest in community,” said Judilee Reed, Executive Director of LINC.

The Grand Prize of $50,000 went to Side Street Project in Pasadena, CA. The five Honorable Mention recipients, including AVA Gallery and Art Center, each received a $10,000 unrestricted cash award. The other winning organizations are located in Boston, MA; Kona-Big Island, HI; Houston, TX; and Seattle, WA.

AVA Gallery and Art Center’s 2006-2007 renovation of its 11 Bank Street facility – formerly known as the H.W. Carter Overall Factory—was recognized for its variety of spaces, including four exhibition galleries, seven teaching studios, a sculpture garden, and 21 individual artists’ studios that together embody the creative, multi-faceted and community-oriented spirit of AVA. The sustainable strategies that were implemented as part of the renovation project, which resulted in LEED Gold-Certification, were also recognized.

AVA’s original application was submitted in April 2010; in June, AVA was selected as one of 15 finalists. The finalist status required additional follow-up, including demographic information about the local community; the “green” initiatives that were undertaken in the development of AVA’s spaces; notable building features; and the experience of using the building as an artist, as a community member, and as a staff member. In July, LINC’s Program Manager, Risё Wilson, came from New York City on a site visit to learn more about AVA. A highlight of the visit was a two-hour meeting with some 30 participants, including founding members of AVA, artists with studios in the building, board members, staff, community members, interns, key players in the renovation project, city councilors, as well as a Lebanon resident who worked in the building for more than 30 years when it was a clothing factory. All contributed invaluable perspectives on the impact that AVA and its innovative art spaces, have had, and continue to have, on the community.

More Awards for the Renovation of AVA’s 11 Bank Street!

The most recent award for the remarkable renovation of AVA’s 11 Bank Street building was given in fall 2009 to Trumbull-Nelson Construction Company of Hanover, New Hampshire. The company received an Award for Excellence in Construction from the NH and VT Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors for their work on the renovation and historical restoration of the former H.W. Carter & Sons overall factory, now the home of AVA Gallery and Art Center. Blending historical features with contemporary approaches to construction, architectural design and environmental responsibility, the construction team – under the superb guidance of construction manager Todd Thompson and field supervisor Paul Tremblay – was able to provide state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical and fire protection systems and safe handicap accessible egress without changing the character of this unique community-centered resource. Challenges included coordinating an elevator shaft addition with an 1800’s out -of -plumb building and replacing the existing heating plant, a 1920’s ship’s boiler from a Lake Champlain craft. The building had numerous 19th-century additions, which resulted in many unforeseen conditions being discovered during construction.

This is the fourth award that the renovation of the AVA building has received. This project has previously been honored with an Plan-NH Merit Award, which is given to exemplary projects that incorporate the principles of “smart growth, sustainability, and social responsibility”, a Citation Award to Banwell Architects from the American Institute of Architects – VT Chapter for excellence in design in the Historic Preservation/Restoration category; and the prestigious LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold Certification awarded by the U.S. Green Building Council.

Congratulations to Trumbull-Nelson Construction Company for a job well done!