Creative Economy Initiative project opens downtown gallery


Local players are making gains to clean up downtown Rutland and boost the local economy through the Creative Economy Initiative project. Castleton State College art department tossed their hat into the project ring with the opening of the Castleton Downtown Gallery.

 Though the gallery officially opened Feb. 27, the grand opening was held March 15 with the display of the Castleton Faculty Exhibition. This first exhibit, which is open until May 11, features the work of 13 of the college’s faculty members.

 Star of the show, Bill Ramage said, “I’ve been thinking about these installations for a long time.”

 Ramage’s piece filled an entire room next to the gallery that observers entered through a glass door covered with a life-size cutout sticker of his son, Jake. Above his head is a cartoon word bubble that says: “Please Wipe Your Feet”.

 Inside are more life-sized cutouts of Jake, accompanied by some of his sister, Whitney, and Ramage himself.

 “It was really important that I had my kids in the piece,” he said.

 The cutouts fill the room in varying positions. In one corner they may appear to be creating art on the walls and a few feet to either side another cutout may be found observing the art about the room. Regardless of the position, the people are always the art.

 “Oh my God! It’s wild,” said one observer as she walked through the door.

 “It was a fun thing to do,” Ramage said as he recalled the process.

 Next door, a dozen other faculty members from the college are featured. The pieces range from paintings of nature to intricate pieces using technologies such as Iphones and projectors.

 The gallery feeds into the future home of the Center Street Market Place, which by the conclusion of 2013 is anticipated to be a communal gathering spot.

 According to Mayor Chris Louras, a $970,000 grant from Senator Patrick Leahy will transform this seemingly dysfunctional space into a commercially driven congregational area.

 Louras said the plans are in place to make the area entirely level in hopes of creating a functional space for the public. He said the area is not intended to be events ridden, but rather a draw for the public, due to its anticipated aesthetic appeal and the commercial space.

 “That’s what it was created for 30 years ago, was to be an events driven place,” he said. “It just proved to be unworkable.”

 Though the area is not intended to be used solely for hosting events, Louras said there will be opportunities for public events to be held in the market place.

 “It’s kind of a long process to make things happen, but things are moving along well right now after a lot of hiccups,” he said.

 The opening of the art gallery is a step in creating attractions to the area. In addition to leveling out the area, construction plans also include a water wall on the back of the Paramount Theater said Louras.

“It’s just another piece of the puzzle of the revitalization of downtown,” he said.

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