Another view: Closure of Harlow Art Gallery is a tragedy

The recently announced closure of the Harlow Art Gallery at 100 Water St. in Hallowell is a tragedy, not just for Hallowell but for the entire Kennebec Valley (“Financial hardship drives Harlow Gallery to close after nearly 60 years in downtown Hallowell “, Aug. 26).

Founded 59 years ago, in 1963, by the Kennebec Valley Art Association, the Harlow has served as a beacon for local artists and art lovers. It has been a community gathering place for residents of the bustling and artsy Water Street.

The Harlow Gallery is on Water Street in Hallowell. It was due to close in November after 60 years of operation. Staff photo by Joe Phelan

For generations, the Harlow has provided a great place for amateur and professional artists to display their work and put artwork up for sale. The art on display was very good but the sale prices were low enough for average people to buy. The gallery was a centerpiece for student artists and the intriguing work of foreign artists. I remember a very gripping performance by a veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder. Obviously, making the art helped the vet recover.

For years, Deb Fahy, the gallery’s former director, curated a number of rotating art exhibitions. But there were also volunteers from the arts association who helped keep the gallery open.

Without the Harlow, there will be no place for local artists to show their work prominently, but at little cost.

Chris and Jennifer Cart were two of the painters whose exceptional pieces graced the walls of Harlow. Helene Farrar grew up in the stimulating and creative atmosphere of the studio and the gallery. A large exhibition and competition each year was a great attraction for art lovers. The gallery’s location on the Kennebec River was inspirational.

It can’t cost that much to keep the little art gallery open. With only one paid employee and unpaid volunteers performing the rest of the tasks, the cost cannot be prohibitive. The cost of closing Harlow, however, is enormous.

With the state awash in excess money, an active Maine arts commission, and many potential donors, someone must step in to save this beloved institution, which is set to close by Nov. 30.

John Hale is a resident of North Monmouth.

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