By Ed Karvoski Jr., Contributing Writer
Westborough – The downtown shop at 8 West Main St. has been the home of Westboro Gallery for 15 years. At its monthly meeting Feb. 21, the 22 members of the artists” cooperative discussed options to resolve recent financial struggles, but then they unanimously voted to close after hosting a final reception March 23.
The announcement was circulated by a press release from Holly Kenny, a lampwork artist who has been a member for five years and the communications director the past four.
“It was a decision that was not taken lightly; it was the last resort for us,” Kenny said.
“With the economy the way it's been the last few years, we never made a killing as a gallery, but we made enough to do what our goals had always been: to have a place that brought artists together, where we could display and sell our work in a setting that was conducive to expanding our skills.”
Prior to that meeting, board members met with the town's Economic Development Committee and shared ideas to reach out to the community.
“The committee was very supportive of the ideas that we brought to the table,” Kenny said. “We all brainstormed for the last several months and tried to think of everything we could to keep the gallery alive. One of the options was displaying art in existing storefronts at Bay State Commons, and then people could be referred back to the gallery. The committee was willing to work with us in the future; it's just that we were running out of time. Basically, it came down to us being able to stay afloat financially. This past year it got harder and harder for us to hang in there.”
Westboro Gallery was founded in 1998 by Terre Bacharz, a local art teacher. The cooperative recognized the artistic talents of area high school students with an annual award, which was named after the gallery's founder.
In 2002, members formed a board of directors to oversee the cooperative. In addition to Kenny, the board members at the time of the closing were Nancy van Hone and Ellen Tro, co-managing directors; Joel Tro, display director; Shari Fox, membership director; Bill Lewis, graphics director; and Jeff Butler, member at large.
“The board of directors was the managing group that oversaw things, but all of our members were responsible for running the gallery,” Kenny explained. “All the members took part in the ownership. Monthly dues would basically cover the rent and operating expenses. We set it up so that a percentage of the sales would go to the gallery and a percentage would go to the artist. In addition to that, each member was expected to perform certain duties to keep the business running. Most of the artists were local – Westborough, Shrewsbury, Northborough, Hopkinton, Upton – close enough where they could still participate in the co-op and fulfill the requirements.”
Kenny believes the Westboro Gallery offered the town a unique shopping experience.
“As far as a full-fledged gallery, there's not anything else like it in town,” she said. “We didn's have just wonderful oil paintings, prints, acrylics and other types of paintings; we also had pottery, woodworking, sculpture, glasswork, jewelry, paper art and mixed media. It covered a real breadth of work, and the price range was nice, too. Our prices ranged from $15 and up. I think it's going to be a loss for the community.”
The artists are still considering options.
“We'se looking into the possibly of a virtual gallery, where people can look at the art and then contact the artists directly,” Kenny added.
For more information, visit westborogallery.com.