An artists’ cooperative gallery is facing closure in Enosburg Falls because of declining membership.
The Artist In Residence Cooperative Gallery, or AIR, rose from the ashes of a fire that destroyed a huge portion of Enosburg Falls’ downtown in 2005. Since then AIR has served as a magnet for artists and buyers. The gallery, which is staffed by members and supported by their dues, once had a roster of 48. Over the past five years, that number has dwindled to 25. Board President Wayne Tarr says that’s unsustainable, and it’s too bad.
“It was a place where locals and tourists could stop in and find high quality art, photographs, painting, woodworking, pottery — again, high quality product — and it’s going to be gone or move somewhere else at this point," Tarr said. He says members have voted to close the gallery after Christmas.
AIR made a mark in the culture of Franklin County with a year-long community arts project, a collaboration with Enosburg Falls Historical Society and Enosburg Falls Conservation Commission. Artist members interviewed and photographed 28 local residents, which in turn inspired other artists to create a piece of art. The effort culminated in a book and a well attended event at the Enosburg Falls Opera House.
In a press release, AIR member Jo Anne Wazmy held out a thin sliver of hope for the gallery’s rebirth. “In 2005, the fire seemed to leave only devastation and destruction, but as we know, a unique fine art co-op rose from the ashes. Now, once again, things look bleak, but the artist members are optimists, open to new ideas and expert financial direction/backers. AIR members do not want to close the gallery. We are at the eleventh hour and seek new ideas and collaborations that might help us restructure and revitalize. We need a miracle in the coming week so that we do not have to take this drastic step,” she wrote.