Bryan Memorial Gallery Executive Director Mickey Myers spoke to the Vermont Watercolor Society on the topic of artist/gallery relations. She was on a panel with Rob Hunter of Frog Hollow and Edward Bank of Gallery NorthStar at Killington Mountain Lodge on May 22, 2016. Following are her prepared remarks in response to questions provided by the Vermont Watercolor Society.
On behalf of Bryan Memorial Gallery, thank you for inviting my participation and the opportunity to bask in the rich focus of the VT Watercolor Society once again.
32 years ago, Bryan Memorial Gallery was founded as the Mary Bryan Gallery in memory of the artist by her husband painter Alden Bryan. They had arrived in Jeffersonville, VT in 1939 to participate in an intensive winter painting workshop led by the legendary Charles Curtis Allen, and they never left. Buying a dairy farm, introducing milk pasteurization to the area, establishing a bakery, a cafe, an inn, and a fine dining restaurant, Alden Bryan was never idyll, while Mary painted daily, even before she drank her morning coffee.
The purpose of the gallery was to show the original works of artists who came to the area, at the base of the other side of Mt. Mansfield, to paint landscapes. Alden said the unique value of the area for painters was that the paintings composed themselves. An inventive hanging system in the gallery allowed works to be installed and removed quickly, as Alden catered to artists who lived elsewhere, which included just about everyone, and tourists coming through the area. It is fair to say that Alden did not immediately envision the gallery’s popularity as a cultural destination, nor the need to double its size within the first 10 years. Nor did he care about practicalities such as storage space and a shipping area. It was the splendor of the camaraderie with artists, giving them a place to show their work that thrilled him.
When Alden died in 2001, the decision to continue the non-profit gallery was made by a Board of Directors, and a more typical non-profit profile emerged: a membership structure, annual giving campaigns, an annual fund raising event, silent auctions, sponsorships, donations at the door and all other such means. That Board decided to continue the primary mission of showing New England landscape painting, and while that distinction has broadened, it dominates today.
The Bryan remains a non-profit, a membership gallery. The first and foremost way to get its attention is to join. At $40 per year it’s a low rate for which there are approx. 400 members at any given time, mostly artists, and also many supporters and volunteers. The exhibition schedule takes place over 10 months with January and April dark.