Castleton University has taken the Rutland area by storm. From the Spartan Arena to the new dome, to the offices downtown, the school is blossoming downtown.
But perhaps the gem of the new downtown presence is the art gallery.
It boasts all different mediums and artists including Castleton students, alumni, and some from local towns and far away places.
The two proprietors of the gallery are retired Castleton professor William Ramage, and his protégé and Castleton alumnus, Sarah Karczmarczyk.
It opened in February 2013, but has grown drastically in the past few years.
“It has gained in popularity. People are still discovering us,” said Karczmarczyk. “We get new people with every show who say, 'Oh! I didn't know this was here.' and they get excited about it and say they are coming back.”
Ramage said that they get around four to five people coming into the gallery per day, and when there are shows, there could be anywhere from 20 to 50 people attending.
“My favorite part about working here is getting to know the different artists,” said Karczmarczyk. “Everyone who comes in has a different kind of work, a different kind of approach to how they create it and how they want to present it.”
Karczmarczyk was an art major at Castleton who started as a work-study student when the gallery first opened. She feels extremely passionate about art and the Castleton Downtown Gallery.
“I think it has helped tie the two communities together and it has brought a better awareness to the Rutland community how invested Castleton is in the arts,” Karczmarczyk said.
And Castleton’s art presence in the city will soon expand.
“We put some Castleton alumni work in the Chamber of Commerce and we're about to install a big exhibition in the bank that's empty now,” said Ramage who plans to have this done within the next month.
In addition, places such as City Hall, banks in the area, The Opera house, and The Rutland Free Library will all be being filled with drawings and paintings over the next few months.
“What we've got going here in Rutland is much more than the gallery,” said Ramage. “We are trying to put as much art on the city as possible, all over the place.”
Ramage plans to hire a Castleton intern to put together an art tour once all of the places are filled, open to the public, to really get the news of the gallery and the artists out there.
“I am about to install a piece in what was a dance studio in The Opera House and we are about to put up a whole lot of art in the Rutland Library.” Ramage said.
These are all extensions of the Castleton Gallery.
“People come in and out of these quarters all the time, because there are businesses here. If we do this tour thing with an intern, it will all be put to good use,” said Ramage.
He said he believes that with this tour, he will be able to show off the art to people other than those who go through the buildings daily for work.
“You know, build it and they will come. First you've got to build it. That's what we are trying to do here,” Ramage said.
After teaching at Castleton University for over 30 years, he now puts all of his energy into the gallery.
“You'll be surrounded by it. It'll be art from floor to ceiling,” Ramage said while in the of the Opera House pointing at the tape on the floor that acts as a plan for the enormous semi circle mural that will soon be standing tall in the middle of what was once a dance studio.
He said they have taken down all of the photos that were previously on the walls of these soon to be transformed areas.
“This is all just silly stuff that you see everywhere,” Ramage said gesturing to the pile of old pictures that used to be on the walls. “It's like elevator music.”
Karczmarczyk believes that much of the public from both Rutland and Castleton hear about the arts because of the plays and events at The Casella Theater on campus.
She thinks that by having the gallery downtown, it will not only draw Castleton people to Rutland, but Rutland people to the theater at Castleton for student shows.
The response from the Rutland community has been overwhelmingly positive since the gallery first opened.
“Overall having the gallery here, the fact that it's free, the fact that it is a family friendly place, it's been a great response. People love it,” Karczmarczyk said.