Passengers stopping at the Westerly Train Station now have some really cool art to look at along their journey. The downtown Amtrak train station on Railroad Ave, which has been vacant for the past two years with no ticket attendant, has a new tenant: the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly.
On Friday, August 3, 2018, the Artist Cooperative celebrated its recent move from 7 Canal Street with an opening reception for visitors to celebrate its new digs inside the red brick train station building that was originally constructed in 1912. People meandered in to view the art displayed on the terra cotta painted walls inside the train station, light food fare was served as some of the artists from CT and RI were present to talk up their art and the new gallery space.
“This is a beautiful space, what we have done with the free-standing walls and lighting, it’s just fantastic,” said Ardie Harrison, who was at the opening reception with expressive photos of nature and wildlife on display.
Westerly resident Nancy Gardner, a watercolor artist and Gail Giancaspro with her landscapes in oil on canvas were some of the other local artists exhibiting at the reception and talking to the many curious and excited guests as the train would ramble by picking up and dropping off more passengers.
The gallery had moved in over a month ago at the train station getting the exhibits and space ready and will remain there for the next two years while the United Theater undergoes its renovations, with the plan to move back to their original High Street location next to the theater. The theater, which has been under construction for the past few months, will be expanding their space into the gallery to install an elevator and bathrooms.
When the renovations are complete, the plan is for the Artists’ Cooperative Gallery and the United to collaborate on programs as part of the expanded Arts Center with a portion of the gallery space to be used for a music school. The gallery, along with the United worked in partnership with The Westerly Land Trust, Amtrak, and the Department of Transportation to collaborate on the gallery move and keep it open for the benefit of the community.
“We had been struggling to figure out where we would go during the theater’s construction,” said Ardie. “The United worked with Amtrak and the state, and we are here. It’s a great space.”
Jane Parillo Rollins, Committee Chair Member of the Artists’ Cooperative and calligraphy lettering artist is “grateful for the opportunity to use and be in the station space-bringing life back into the historic building and being able to transform it into the gallery.”
The Artists’ Cooperative Gallery of Westerly will feature a new exhibit every month with different artists and innovative themes. For the rest of August until September 2, Ardie Harrison along with James Pepitone are the featured artists as part of the new show titled “A Dot on a Walk,” inspired by artist Paul Klee. Ardie exhibits are framed photographic images of nature scenes and wildlife inspired by his recent “walk” across Scotland and James uses nature’s objects of driftwood and recycled glass to create unique beach and barn furniture. In October, members of the gallery will display their works of art. In November and December, they will celebrate the holidays with their annual art show and sale.
A special ribbon cutting ceremony took place on Friday, August 17, 2018 at the Westerly Train Station as the gallery welcomed Governor Gina Raimondo, Senator Jack Reed, and RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.