Chaffee set to reopen after repairs
By Gordon Dritschilo
Staff Writer | April 26,2013
Contractors and volunteers are scurrying to get the Chaffee Art Center ready to reopen next week.
The gallery has been run out of its new downtown satellite location as the main building on Main Street underwent repairs. Executive Director Margaret Barrors said Thursday that the rewiring, painting and cleaning should be done in time for the opening of the annual student art show May 3.
“Fundraising is constant and ongoing,” she said. “I need the universe to know no donation is too small, although we love large ones.”
The Main Street gallery — now being referred to as “the mansion” to distinguish it from the Merchants Row location — closed for renovations as the gallery downtown opened at the end of last year.
The downtown gallery was intended in part to cover the renovations, but also as an experiment in giving the Chaffee a presence downtown.
The downtown location will remain open. Barros said the student art show will be split between the two locations, which work from area high schools downtown and the submissions by younger artists up the hill.
Every opening downtown has seen a greater turnout than the last, Barros said, starting with about 75 at the first and climbing to about 300 for the most recent.
“I have seen foot traffic over 200 a week, which, for a little gallery in downtown Rutland, I consider really successful,” she said.
Barros also said the mansion may have to close again for the month of July for work on the porch and foundation.
Barros took over in December and has overseen the renovations while grappling with staff turnover.
“For two weeks I was executive director of myself,” she said.
Volunteers have figured heavily in the effort, Barros said, tackling tasks from clearing out old art supples to moving a piano through some tricky doorways.
“I can’t say enough about the volunteers,” she said. “To date, there have probably been 30 citizens who have come in to help.”
They also cleaned out the attic, which Barros said she would like to eventually rent out portions of as studio space, and the basement. In the latter, they found the original cast-iron stove. While it was largely rusted out, Barros said she preserved the frame for later use as a table.
“We found some prints (in the attic) a board member is researching,” she said. “They were all lovingly wrapped in tissue, in a box nobody had seen in quite a while.”
The clean-up also unearthed old guest books, decorations from Halloween parades past and scrapbooks done with hand-calligraphy by the founders of the Rutland Area Art Association.