By Chelsea Lear-Ward, Staff Writer
Upcountry Artists, a local organization located in downtown Farmington serving as an art gallery and community space, has finally made it’s appearance within the town after over thirty years of being an established organization without a place to call home.
One of the featured artists and member of Upcountry, Mardy Bogar, explained how the new location came to be. “It hasn’t been an active group in the community. It’s more cottage industry artists and you know, of course, here- living rurally, we’re all plunked out in the middle of the woods and all over the place, so there has been a few of us who have always wanted to bring it together and have a location in town and have an actual address where we can meet and have our meetings to generate new ideas,” said Bogar.
The new location on Main Street opened on September first and the director of the organization, Kika Nigals, has tried not to make assumptions about the success of Upcountry’s opening, but instead has only hoped for the best. “I feel like we’re pretty realistic in terms of art sales and around here we’re not really getting input so I think we’re more focused on the teaching aspect of it,” said Nigals. “Also just being open and friendly, getting people to come in and sit on the couches, enjoy their snacks or coffee, and we even welcome people to come in and use our drafting table by the window.”
At any given time, Upcountry Artists features work from between 12 and 15 artists within the studio, requiring a fee of $50 for a two-month exhibition period, a 20% sales cut, and volunteer work. “Those who feel they can devote some time spending a couple of days per month in gallery, and a lot of artists don’t like to do that,” said Bogar. “Although I think you can get work done here, I mean it’s a quiet space. It’s not like people are busting the doors down to get it in, but you know, when it’s busy- it’s busy with workshops and that’s what we’d like to see more of as an activity center where people can come off the street and design their own project.” A variety of classes are offered including life drawing, open ceramics studio, print making, an after school early release program, and birthday parties.
Nigals does not for see the storefront producing a profit but she strives for the organization to at least pay the bills. “At a minimum we’re hoping to be here for two years to see if we can actually make a go of it. What that entails I think is gonna involve grants and fellowships that we can apply for.”
The organization has reached out to local print companies as a form of advertisement, but networking websites seem to be the marketing technique of choice. “It’s free, it’s easy and it’s fluid and dynamic,” said Nigals, “where as with the newspapers, someone has to go look for it, buy it and read it where social media is more in your face.”
For more information about the organization, visit the Upcountry Artist website at http://www.upcountryartists.com/