Thursday, October 13, 2011

CHANGES: Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts (VTICA) due to open in Chester on December 1

A former milliner's shop, hardware store, grange hall and most recently, the American Legion Hall on Depot Street in Chester, is getting a new life as a home for the contemporary arts. Renovations are underway for a first floor gallery and performance space in the historic clapboard building. The building will be the home of the Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts (VTICA). A December l opening is planned.

Spearheading the organization are Andover residents Robert Sarly and Abby Raeder, VTica's Executive Director. Sarly is an acrylic and watercolor artist and an art lover. He has been a patron of the arts for over thirty years and has close ties with the Provincetown Art Association and Museum (PAMM) and the Out of the Blue (OOTB) Gallery in Cambridge, MA. Raeder has been a creative facilitator throughout her years in retail, interior design and construction management.

The first floor of the historic building will include 2,000 square feet of exhibition and performance space. Contractor for the project is Richard Crocker - Builders, Inc. a Chester based company with over 30 years of experience. As Crocker said, "the building reflects Chester's architecture with a tipped up stone foundation, slate roof and clapboard exterior. At first, the building had wood shakes, but when the railroad arrived they were able to add a slate roof. It is now about 120 years old and in great shape."

Renovating the 100 plus year old building is something Crocker believes in. "It is in my bones. Housing contemporary art in an old building is not a disconnect but rather an innovative use of Vermont's buildings."

The building project includes the addition of insulation and display lighting that meets Efficiency Vermont guidelines. Efforts are being made to recycle scrap metal from the building. One of the first objectives in readying the building was to open up the space including raising the ceiling and installing skylights. When completed, the building will house second floor apartments/artists' teaching studios and a hearth barn museum.

Architect for the project is Theresa C. Findiesen, AIA of Rupert. The project uses "familiar textures and materials in a slightly contemporary way." This includes a standing seam roof, vertical square joint ship lap and timber with metal connections. As a result said Findiesen, "VTica's function, while being very much about creating art, is utilitarian. The institute is the vehicle that moves the arts from discretionary to necessity."

The Vermont Institute of Contemporary Arts can be reached at P.O. Box 972, Chester, VT 05143. To reach Abby Raeder telephone 802-875-4808. The website is E-mail is Progress on the building and the programming can be followed on facebook.