Taking the first step toward a regional art gallery

  • Beverly Phelps, president of the Deerfield Valley Art Association, stands outside of her home in Bernardston. Recorder Staff/Andy Castillo Recorder Staff—Andy Castillo

  • Example of a work in a private collection that may be pledged to MoNEA. Boyden Farm, Conway. William Lester Stevens, (1888- 1984) oil © W. Lester Stevens. In a private collection.This work may be copyrighted, and is used on this site under fair use principles. Contributed photo.—

  • Example of a contemporary artist: Elephant Waterfall, Paul Hoffman, (1950 - ) acrylic on wood panel, 18' x 24', 2016. © Paul Hoffman, photo courtesy of the Greenfield Gallery. Used with permission. Contributed photo.—

  • Example of Public Art: Greenfield, MA mural: Steven George Maniatty, (1910 - 1984) Lobby of TDBanknorth, Main St. Greenfield,MA Contributed photo.—

  • Boston Harbor, Fitz Henry Lane, MA (1804–1865) oil on canvas, (23.25 in x 39.25 in). 1854. Current location: The White House. Photo courtesy of the Google Art Project Contributed photo.—

Recorder Staff
Published: 11/9/2016 10:18:23 AM

The Deerfield Valley Art Association has launched an online platform for the newly formed Museum of New England Art, the first step in bringing a regional art gallery to Franklin County.

A mission statement on the museum’s website, which was created last month, relates the museum’s goal is to “establish a permanent home for the organization’s history and its current and future members, and to acquire, preserve, exhibit, and promote the art, craft, and design created by individuals born or working significantly in the six New England states.”

According to an information sheet about the proposed museum, the process will have three phases, the first of which is to “create a business plan, gift policy and MoNEA’s online gallery website.”

“There’s a long history of art and artists in the valley, and all over New England,” Deerfield Valley Art Association President Beverly Phelps said Wednesday morning while sitting in her Bernardston home, surrounded by historic art. On the wall next to her hangs “Blackberrying,” a painting by her husband’s ancestor, William Preston Phelps, known as “The Painter of Monadnock.” Beside her sits an intricately designed sculpture made by a Greenfield artist.

Phelps is dreaming big. By 2020, she hopes that MoNEA will have a permenant home — bolstering art tourism in Franklin County, showcasing historic art, and providing a space where local artists can receive recognition. Currently, there isn’t anything like MoNEA anywhere in New England, and there aren’t many public art galleries in Franklin County.

“We’re looking to the future of the art association and of the culture of Franklin County,” she said.

To that end, they launched an online campaign, including a Facebook page, last month — the first concrete steps in the art museum’s formation. Hopefully, Phelps said the online platform will bring the project into public light – passively encouraging participation and soliciting donations.

According to Phelps, also as part of the first phase, the organization will kick off public art initiatives in local communities by the end of the year.

That initiative includes placing art in public spaces. Phelps said an example of art in a public space is a painting of historic downtown Greenfield by Steven George Maniatty that’s currently hanging in the TD Banknorth lobby.

Phase two of the project outlines renting storage space to house the association’s art collections and create a small gallery where Deerfield Valley Art Association members can show their work.

“We hope that it’s gonna happen. The next step is to get a storefront with some storage,” Phelps said, noting that obtaining historic New England art isn’t a problem because “we have people that have pledged their art collections to the museum.”

As part of the second phase — projected for 2017 to 2020 — the association’s board of directors, which includes a few retired grant writers, will apply for grants, solicit donors and “explore permenant MoNEA facility locations in Franklin County.”

Phelps said they’re looking for a building ideally between 10,000 and 15,000 square feet, in Franklin County. In the past, buildings they’ve looked into include the D.L. Moody property in Northfield and the former Gables Restaurant on Routes 5 and 10 in Deerfield.

“And if someone wants to give us a wonderful building, that’d be good too,” Phelps noted. “There are a lot of people interested in New England Art. Hopefully, some of them will want to donate.”

In the final, culminating stage, phase three, Phelps said MoNEA will move to the permenant location and open to the public.


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