An article from the series celebrating Hallowell’s 250th Anniversary, as published in the Capital Weekly on February 24, 2012
by Deborah Fahy
Since the founding of the Kennebec Valley Art Association in 1958, the organization has relied on the hearts and hands of literally hundreds of volunteers, and through their efforts exhibited the work of thousands of Maine artists at the Harlow Gallery in downtown Hallowell. The KVAA is a membership based non-profit organization, so volunteers are essential to everything we do and they always have been. Although day to day management became the responsibility of our part-time paid staff as of 2003, we still rely on volunteers for much of the essential work of the organization. Volunteers govern, plan, write policy and oversee the finances. They help choose and curate exhibitions, staff artwork delivery and pick up times, and hang our exhibitions. They help with data-entry, mailings, filing, phone calls and press-clipping. They plan and organize events and fundraisers, cater openings and gallery-sit in a pinch. They do the recycling, help with building management, make repairs and do general housekeeping. They even do the windows!
Some individuals stand out, having played an active role in running the Harlow Gallery for decades. In particular, Adele Nichols and Madge Ames where both founding members who dedicated untold hours to the KVAA into the 1990s, approaching four decades of service each. Florence Daly joined the organization in the early 1970s and also became a key volunteer into the 90s.
Other dedicated volunteers over the decades have included Mr. & Mrs. Alta Ashley, Irma Bell, Bryan Berge, Allen Bernstein, Ted & Ruth Bookey, Lucille Cheney, Lea Clunie, Richard Cote, Scott Cowger, Charles Danforth, Joanne DeCampos, Florence Daly, Bob Demers, Sandra Leinonen Dunn, Steve Dunn, Meyer Emanuel, Janice Farrar, Alice Fleming, Nancy Fraser, Clarence Hardy, Judy Herman, David Hodsdon, Gary Hoyle, Michael Hudak, Lynn & Donald Huff, Richard Hurtibise, Mary Louise..Town Jacqua, Todd Jubinville, Juanita Longwell, Marilyn Karl, Lillian Keegan, Joe Klofas, Penny Markley, Helen Matz, Leo Meissner, Linda & John Murray, Linwood & Marian Partridge, Marc Poirier, Peter Precourt, Errol Reed, Sharon Reishus, Jamie Ribisi-Braley, Laura Rothstein, Judy Schuppien, Antoinette Tardiff, Hank Tyler, Susan Webb, Louise Webber and Phyllis Mazotta Wicks and many, many more.
In my current role as executive director of such a venerable non-profit, I am always mindful that we are building on the work, hopes and ideals of our founders and of generations of volunteers -passionate supporters of the arts in central Maine all. My personal goal is that the work I do today will help ensure that the organization will be here for many years to come. When I started the job in 2004 I spent some time poring through the KVAA archives – boxes full of scrapbooks, press clippings, newsletters and board records. I found the overall history and the ever-changing cast of characters fascinating, it gave me a depth of understanding on what the organization was all about and how its story was woven into the fabric of the community. The result of my research was a timeline, which is online at http://www.harlowgallery.org. The records were given into the safekeeping of the Kennebec Historical Society, where they are now available to the public (they are in need of volunteers to organize and catalog the KVAA collection and others as well).
The KVAA opened the Harlow Gallery in 1963, which means that we’ll be celebrating a 50 year anniversary in 2013. Watch for plans for special events and join us in celebrating another milestone in the legacy of the KVAA.