Gallery hopes art helps foster growth in Rutland - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Gallery hopes art helps foster growth in Rutland

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It's a well-known trend that artists often follow real estate prices, moving into rough neighborhoods they help gentrify.

"Art, visual art plays a significant role in the well-being of a community," said William Ramage of the Castleton Downtown Gallery.

The Castleton Downtown Gallery hopes that their presence is fostering Rutland's developing downtown.

"Rutland is going through a kind of transformation, some people refer to it as a renaissance," Ramage said.

The gallery at the bottom of Rutland's Center Street Alley is supported by Castleton State College and is used as part of art classes as an educational supplement. The gallery also frequently features student artists and art professors' work.

"It increases the sort of education dimensions that embellishes the life on campus," Ramage said.

The gallery, which opened earlier this year, now has on exhibit Phil Whitman's "Confederate Pictures," an ode to Devil's Den, an outcropping of huge boulders on the southern end of the Gettysburg Battlefield in Pennsylvania. Some of the artwork represents both sides, such as "What Side Are You On?"

Part of the exhibit is educational and interactive. It's a tradition at Devil's Den for visitors to place pennies on the monuments, heads for north, tails for south.

Rutland is currently at 90 percent occupancy for first-floor retail and in the last four months three new stores have opened. The city also has plans to make upgrades to Center Street Alley. Those pushing for downtown Rutland's revival agree that more art ushers that mission along.

"That influx of more art and culturally stimulating type things like that have really helped the overall development of downtown both in the business climate and culturally," said Michael Coppinger of the Downtown Rutland Partnership.

Rutland features outdoor murals by local artist Kathryn Wiegers. The Downtown Rutland Partnership says exhibiting art publicly speaks to Rutland's spirit. The Castleton Downtown Gallery says they have hosted art enthusiasts from all over, including international visitors. They hope their presence will attract more artists who support the academic mission.

"The artists that we hope to have come to our gallery will be artists who are really trying to be part of that academic discipline," Ramage said.

And with more art, the gallery and the city hopes to further boost its growing downtown.

The Phil Whitman exhibit will be on display through Jan. 11.

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