Deborah Giordano is an ambassador of the arts. As president of the Gardner Area League of Artists (GALA), she has helped bring artists together in communities all around north-central Massachusetts. She is now collaborating with Tamar Russell Brown of Gallery Sitka in Fitchburg on an exhibition featuring area artists. The unifying theme? Why, the lovely town of Fitchburg and its picturesque surroundings, of course.
“I very much admire Tamar,” says Ms. Giordano. “She is a dedicated supporter of the arts. Owning a gallery is hard work and Tamar is very loyal to her artists. That’s what it’s all about, supporting each other to reach all our goals.”
Deb continues: “We enjoy helping other area art groups and businesses by promoting the arts and culture in their towns.” GALA members chose to launch a show in Fitchburg because they were so taken by the town’s quiet beauty. A boomtown in the 19th century, Fitchburg has preserved much of the architecture that makes New England towns so enchanting to visitors and so dear to natives. Two notable examples are Rollstone Congregational Church and the home of Faith United Parish on Main Street.
The organization, of course, began in Gardner, Mass., a ways west of Fitchburg and south of Winchendon, the town GALA now calls home. GALA has partnered with the Winchendon History and Cultural Center and will soon have its first permanent quarters at 135 Front St. in Winchendon. The organization will host a “gala” opening (of course) of its Arts Gallery on Aug. 18, in a space created by the renovation of a venerable old barn nearby the Center’s Murdock-Whitney House.
GALA is a Massachusetts non-profit organization, established in 2000 and staffed entirely by volunteers. Its mission is to “promote the arts and culture as an essential component of a healthy community.” Deb and her fellow GALA members (180 and counting) believe that “artistic expression is a community’s greatest legacy for future generations.” They are interested in all the arts and have members working in many different artistic media — painting, sculpture, photography — as well as persons of letters and the performing arts, including poets, musicians, and songwriters. Membership is open to both professionals and non-professionals. “We collaborate with area government officials, local historical committees, educators, schools, art galleries and other fellow arts groups and organizations,” Ms. Giordano informs us.
The last several years, GALA has supported Seven Hills Foundation, a group of adults with disabilities and significant life challenges in Groton. The adults use painting as a tool to express themselves and they are ecstatic to be a part of something and see their artwork displayed. GALA has also helped teach crafts at local senior centers.
GALA has made grants to graduating high school seniors. Today the group hosts open-mic poetry and musical events, teaches art to area residents, and exhibits the work of area artists with a view to helping them market their work. GALA reaches out far and wide, with participants all over the north-central Mass area and as far afield as Cape Cod and New Hampshire.
Deb is very excited about new projects GALA will undertake in Winchendon. “We have been raising funds to beautify the town,” she says, and soon work will begin on two new, large, public murals. This public spirit is essential to GALA’s goals and aspirations. They want to bring artists together to enhance the feeling of community that makes the area a fun and interesting place to live. “Our shows are open to everyone,” says Deb. “We don’t turn anyone away.”
Sandra Richard, Iphigenia Gossios Burg, Arlene Ferrier, Charlene Noel, Judith Fava-Houle, Deborah Giordano, Scott Niemi, Andrew Niemi, Jonathan Niemi, and Barbara Hallowell.
This event will take place at Gallery Sitka, 454 Main St. in Fitchburg, on Friday, July 27, 6 ̶ 9 p.m. Artwork will be judged and awards will be given for first, second and third place. The awards are sponsored by NewVue Communities and The Fitchburg Cultural Alliance. Visit gallerysitka.com and galagardner.org for more information about the show and future events.