History of AVA

AVA's 50 Years

The Barn

The Community Gallery opened its first exhibition in the rustic barn of Dr. and Mrs. Robert Nye in Norwich, VT with the occasion announced in the local Valley News newspaper on August 28, 1973.

Egbert and Mayor Found AVA

Cofounders Emmabelle Egbert and Elizabeth (Lili) Mayor signed a lease for a shared space with Harris Business Machines on the lower level of 37 S. Main Street in Hanover, NH, where Community Gallery artists could exhibit year-round.

Move to Allen Street

AVA had grown to 35 artists and relocated to the second floor of 3 Allen Street in Hanover, NH.

Non Profit Status

The gallery received non-profit status and became incorporated as the Community Gallery Inc. Emmabelle Egbert acts as CEO and Lili Mayor takes on the role of accountant/bookkeeper to maintain non-profit status.

Name Changed to AVA

A Board of Directors was elected, and the organization acquired the name AVA, or “Alliance for the Visual Arts” and began offering art classes.

First Director

AVA moved to the second floor of 5 Allen Street behind Dartmouth Bookstore. Elizabeth Austin became AVA’s director, a position she held until the end of 1986.

Bente Torjusen West Joins AVA

Bente Torjusen West begins her tenure at AVA as Executive Director.

Education Program

AVA’s education program expanded to include artists and audiences of all ages.

AVA Moves to Lebanon, NH

AVA opened at its current location, 11 Bank Street in Lebanon, NH, the former H. W. Carter & Sons overall factory which had closed in 1985. AVA initially rented 1,750 sq ft on the first and second floors from an investment group named Northern Equities (later known as Bank Street Properties). Other businesses occupying the building were a land surveying office, The Upper Valley Carpet Center, a winter clothing company named Black Diamond, a videographer, and a graphic designer. Soon after, a few artists arrived to rent studio space. The new exhibition space had beautiful hardwood floors and high ceilings which contributed greatly to the ambiance of the gallery space. The new location also provided AVA with ample teaching space. AVA’s scholarship program and close collaboration with social services organizations helped make audiences not commonly associated with art galleries feel “at home” at AVA.

AVA Purchases the Carter Building

AVA purchases the 11 Bank Street building and launches its first capital campaign.

Renovation Complete

Building renovation was completed at 11 Bank Street, and the building was named the Carter-Kelsey Building. The number of available below-market-rate artist studios was increased to 20.

Carter-Kelsey Building Awarded LEED Certification

AVA’s renovation project received LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold rating, with 47 points, just shy of the Platinum LEED rating. AVA’s renovation of its 140-year-old building in downtown Lebanon resulted in many transformations: an important piece of historic Lebanon was preserved; a previously inaccessible building now welcomed people of all ages and abilities; and a building riddled with safety violations and structural deficiencies was thoroughly upgraded to comply with 21st-century international building codes.

Branching Out-Deepening Roots Campaign

The Branching Out Deepening Roots campaign was launched, and the 4,000-square-foot sculptural studies building was built and opened with studios for welding, woodworking, ceramics, and stone carving.

Bente Retires

Bente Torjusen West retires after 30-years as AVA’s Executive Director.

Sculptural Studies Building Opens

AVA opened its newly constructed Bente Torjusen West Sculptural Studies Building at 9 Bank Street, funded by the Branching Out-Deepening Roots Campaign.

Sculptural Studies Building Awarded LEED Status

The SSB was awarded LEED Certification at the Silver level, making AVA’s entire campus LEED certified, a unique achievement for a nonprofit arts organization.

From Seed to Bloom Campaign

AVA launched the From Seed to Bloom Comprehensive Campaign to raise $2.7 million.

Members Gallery Opens

AVA opened its Members Gallery, a dedicated space for artist members to show and sell their work, echoing its original mission of exhibiting the work of local artists.

AVA Celebrates 50 Years

AVA celebrates 50 years of supporting and nurturing the creative spirit through its exhibition, community, and educational programming in the Upper Valley.

The Carter-Kelsey Building

From Overall Factory to a “Green” Art Center

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The Sculptural Studies Building

Metal, Wood, Clay, and Stone Studios

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Kiras Sculpture Garden

Outdoor Art Space

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Connecting the Threads

History of the Carter-Kelsey Building

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