Citing economy woes, Kingston Art Gallery reneges on plans to expand

KINGSTON — The cooperative Kingston Art Gallery no longer will expand into its new building, slated for completion July 1 in Cleo’s Landing.

Local artists belonging to the cooperative are nervous about paying rent for more space, said building owner Susan Rodgers.

“They are scared because of the way the economy is,” she said.

Marcia Randall-DeBard, who works as part of the gallery’s co-op, said the decision not to take it over hopefully isn’t permanent.

“Once we feel a little more ongoing — a little more stable — eventually we want to and can take it over,” she said.

But until then Rodgers, who also owns interior design company Design Connection, has other plans for the 515 square foot building.

“We are going to see if we can’t pursue the idea of an education center,” she said.

The space will be rented out for art and theatre classes, lectures, meetings and even dance sessions.

“It’s pretty much open. On Mondays I’m going to get my fuzzy socks and boom box and dance,” she said laughing.

Artists will be able to rent the space to hold their own classes in an “Incubator Business”-type setting.

“It’s a way where people — who are interested in creating a business but don’t have the space to do it or are scared to start — can do it without a major financial commitment,” she said.

Rodgers said the space will create piles of opportunity for North Enders young and old looking for more creative outlets.

Rodgers said her mother, Cleo, started painting when she was 60 years old and is the perfect example that it is never too late to start learning.

“She would be so excited about this,” she said.

The timing for the building’s completion couldn’t be better with families looking to learn something new during summer vacations.

“People can take a peek at it while watching the Fourth of July parade,” she said.

Rodgers said she looks forward to utilizing the roof of the new building for a sculpture garden.

She said with the nice weather the roof will also be the hosting grounds for Gallery Nights, which takes place the second Saturday each month and features new displays and two local artists.

“It’s a social event for downtown Kingston that no one knows about but it’s not a secret,” Rodgers said. “We can create our own fun right here and not spend a lot on gas.”

Rodgers said she already gained a lot of local interest in classes and even receives hugs in the grocery store for creating the idea and as well as beautifying Cleo’s Landing.

“It shows that something is happening in this funk of an economic recession,” she said. “It’s little, but it’s something.”

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