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Gallery expansion puts Grove’s best interests at art

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Forty years after establishing Gallery in the Grove on the second floor of the Bright’s Grove library, the volunteer board is dreaming even bigger.

“We’d love to see our building become a community hub with programming space, big high ceilings, and full accessibility to our floor,” says board chairperson Kirsten Kilner Holmes.

“The Bright’s Grove community desperately needs this. I think it’s worthy. I really do.”

Her board kick-started the project in November by agreeing to pay $10,000 toward engineered drawings for an expansion at Faethorne House at 2618 Hamilton Rd., the city-owned building in which the gallery operates.

Since 1980, Gallery in the Grove has shared the historic house with the Bright’s Grove library branch. And for years, county and city officials has considered building, which dates back to 1875, a candidate for expansion and accessibility upgrades. The only way to reach the gallery is by climbing a long set of stairs.

“It’s been over 20 years of dialogue with the city and nothing has happened,” said Kilner Holmes. “But we know both the county and city would like to see something happen.”

The Gallery donation spurred city council to match the $10,000 commitment and issue an RFP (Request For Proposals) this winter for concept designs.

This spring, council is expected to get the results and a price estimate for a 1,400-square-metre library addition, a lift to the second-floor gallery, better energy efficiency, and fully accessible washrooms.

An addition on the back wouldn’t alter the gracious appearance of Faethorne House from the front.

If the project proceeds– and Kilner Holmes is optimistic it will – her board is prepared to contribute another $15,000 and help with a capital fundraising campaign.

“I could see it being a $1-million project,” she said.  “Let’s create a beautiful space in an old building that is a hub for Bright’s Grove families and our youth.”

She’s hopeful of government grants, especially when the province, county and the municipality see growing support for it.

“We’ve already had people ask how they can help,” said Kilner Holmes. “And I tell them the big push will be once council approves it, maybe in the fall.”

Meanwhile, Gallery in the Grove is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a number of events, including a juried show called ‘Faces, Places and Spaces: A Canadian Perspective.’

Southwestern Ontario artists submitted eighty-four paintings, photos, drawings and sculptures. Judges selected about 40 for the show.

“There’s just some incredible work, much of it from local artists,” said Kilner Holmes. “Part of our hope is that we discover some new artists this way.”

‘Faces, Places and Spaces’ runs March 8 to April 25.

The gallery is also planning two bus trips this year, one to the Detroit Institute of Art for a Van Gogh exhibit, and another to the Art Gallery of Ontario in September.

For more info, visit or call 519-869-4643.

The Arts Journal reflects the cultural fabric of our community. Send your ideas to [email protected].

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