Long Standing Show Returns in December

Published in Woonsocket Call on November 8, 2015

Foundry Artist Association Kicks Off 33rd holiday Sale at Pawtucket Armory

Look for thousands of shoppers to converge on downtown to purchase unique holiday gifts for their friends and loved ones.       Next month, the Foundry Artists Association (FAA), one of Rhode Island’s premier arts events, returns to the City of Pawtucket to kick off its 33rd holiday sale.  At this two weekend event, 60 seasoned artists bring their fine art and crafts to sell to the Pawtucket Armory’s drill hall, items ranging from art glass to wood, and include painting, sculpture, metal, fiber, mixed media, jewelry, ceramics, photography, millinery, handmade books, and furniture.

One of Rhode Island’s oldest shows runs for seven days over the first two December weekends, starting with the Gala Opening Night on Thursday, December. 3, from 5pm – 9pm. The Gala features the John Juxo and Otis Read, refreshments and the kick off of a Silent Auction showcasing items valued over $50 that are donated by each of the participating artists.

The show continues on Friday, December. 4, from noon – 8pm; Saturday (December. 5) and Sunday (December. 6) from 10-6 pm. The proceeds of the first weekend Silent Auction will be given to two nonprofits: Sovereign House, an advocacy and resource center for Rhode Island domestic abuse victims and the Resources for Human Development, a Pawtucket-based arts-based studio program that serves adults with a range of disabilities.

The Foundry Artist show reopens on Friday, December 11, noon – 8pm; Saturday, December. 12, 10am – 6pm, and closes on Sunday, December. 13, 10am – 6pm.

The show is free to the public with free parking in the adjacent parking lot and free on street parking.  Handicap parking is in the rear of the building.  No sales tax will be charged on purchases; all major credit cards accepted.

Providence artist Michael Bryce, FAA’s president, says his organization’s event stands out from other art shows popping up throughout the Ocean State in December.  “With a juried selection of artists, the caliber of work is high in our show,” he says, noting that a strong outreach brings seasoned artists to group’s attention, who are invited to apply and submit their work for consideration.

“After a rigorous jury process usually 75 percent of the artists will be selected to return the next year, says Bryce. This turnover gives shoppers an opportunity to view the art work of the new participating artist each year.

Pawtucket’s First Years

Bryce says that over three decades ago, a community of artists opened their I-95 Foundry Building studios in downtown Providence to the public during the December holiday season.  In 1995, when the Foundry Building was converted to office space, its artists scattered to studios throughout the region, however, they continued to hold a December holiday show in different venues. These places included Veterans Auditorium and at a mill now demolished on Charles Street, both located in downtown Providence. The Foundry Artist would end up in Pawtucket initially by relocating to the Grant building on the City’s historic Main Street and later to Riverfront Lofts, across the river from City Hall.

In 2002, the Foundry Artists were drawn to the 1894 castle-like Armory, on Exchange Street, says Bryce.  With the departure of the National Guard in 1994 the City’s historic Pawtucket Armory became vacant.  Its 11,000 sf drill hall might just be the perfect place to hold for their holiday sale.

Ultimately, with the Foundry Artist signing a lease with the Pawtucket Armory Association, a nonprofit that owned and was renovating the historic structure, former Mayor James E. Doyle, charged the city’s Department of Planning & Redevelopment with the responsibility of making sure all the regulatory i’s were dotted and t’s crossed.  Art supporters, including Phyllis and Morris Nathanson, Paul Audette, along with Developer Ranne P. Warner gave countless hours to making this first Holiday sale a success.

At the first Foundry Artist Holiday Sale, under the amazing vaulted space, a large outside propane heater piped hot air inside the drill hall to bring temperatures up to a manageable level.  Porta cans placed at the back of the drill hall became the de facto rest rooms. With paint peeling from the ceiling and walls, the huge space needed a good coat of paint.

But, shoppers, coming from Rhode Island and Southern Massachusetts, found plenty of free parking in Pawtucket, and easy access off Interstate 95.  With the Pawtucket Armory being located in the City’s 307 acre Arts District, there was no sales tax was charged on purchases.

Over the 13 years that the holiday sale has been held at the Pawtucket Armory, gradual improvements were made to this building.  Propane heaters used during the first years were replaced with an efficient gas heating system and rest room facilities were built out.  Over the last couple of years a new wooden floor was installed in the huge drill hall with the walls and ceiling being painted.

Bryce, employed by the Providence Journal as a freelance illustrator at age 12 who was has received undergraduate and master degrees in painting and illustration and teaches art at local colleges, says that the Armory’s drill hall perfectly showcases the artist’s one-of-a-kind art work. “I cannot even image another space that would be so perfect,” he says, stressing that the “beautiful space” gives shoppers a “breath-taking experience.” when they are browsing around looking for that piece of art.

With two years under his belt as President, Bryce has worked to put his finger prints on the Holiday sale.  With the silent auction being completed by the end of the first weekend, he successfully pushed his group to create artist showcase which highlights each unique artist’s works.

Live artist demonstrations and videos are scheduled every hour on the second weekend to show the process of making art in different artistic mediums, Bryce added, noting that this “creates an interesting and interactive environment for the shopper.”

For additional information about this year’s foundry Artists Show, please visit www.foundryshow.com or www.facebook.com/foundryshow.  Or listen to advertising spots place don Rhode Island National Public Radio.

Childhood Dream of Becoming a Photographer Becomes a Realty

Published December 7, 2012, Pawtucket Times

Some times an appreciation for the arts takes hold of your soul later in life and sometimes it takes place during your childhood.  For thirty nine year old Briana Gallo, she was intrigued with photography at a very young age, which began while playing with her dad’s old Nikon camera.    Today with pride and excitement, she finds herself participating in her first show, selling her photographs at the 30th Annual Foundry Artist Holiday Sale.

Looking Back

“I could ride [a horse] before I learned to walk,” remembers photographer Briana Gallo, who grew up on a 100 acre horse farm in Missouri.   Little did the five year old child know that the seeds of her desire to be a professional photographer was gently planted while taking ‘pretend’ shots of imaginary scenes.  Years later, this ultimately created and shape her photographic style as an adult.

Gallo’s imagination guided her photography.  “I want my photos to be full of emotion, with people becoming an integral part of the image.”  For those looking at her work, this Northfield, New Hampshire resident wants them to see the image as she saw through the lens, feeling that they became part of the exact moment the photograph was taken.

When Gallo turned ten years old, the pain of her parent’s divorce pushed her away from photography, taking her to Florida to live with her mother.  As a sophomore at ArmwoodHigh School in her new community of Brandon, Florida, the young student again picked up a camera joining the school’s year book staff.  “I was all over the school clicking away, capturing each and every moment”, she says.  Gallo ultimately did take on the responsibility of becoming the editor in her junior and senior years.

Snapping Pictures at College

             After high school, Gallo entered  Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida, where she majored in English, with two minors – teaching English as a second language, and of course, photography.  The budding photographer made a few dollars on the side by taking photos at sports events and sorority and fraternity parties. “Photography paid my bills,” she says, but noting that it took “absolutely no creativity.”

As a college senior, Gallo traveled to attend photo workshops in Santa Fe, New Mexico, mostly focusing on landscapes and slide photography, however, these trips also reignited her love for riding horses.  After graduating college, she ran a horseback riding program for boys in North Carolina.  Gallo, who grew up on a Missouri horse ranch, trained Arabians to become “kid horses” in North Carolina for four year.  This experience ultimately led her to meet her husband and marry.

Her last winter in North Carolina, Gallo found her old manual camera. After wiping the dust off, she took a photograph of a White Zinfandel wine bottle, which became an award winning photo.  The internal calling to become a professional photographer was reinforced when the wine company bought her photograph to use in an advertisement.  “This was my sign,” she says.

Relocating to New Hampshire, the couple would become Directors at Interlocken, an international summer camp. Gallo fell back on her college skills of teaching English as a second language, combining it with photography to work with the campers who came from all corners of the world.  She also ultimately served as the camp’s marketing and staffing director, too.

As a Camp Counselor, “I suddenly found myself back in the heart of photography,” she said, “…not taking pictures but teaching the craft to the youngsters.”

In time, the young couple bought a ranch in Northfield, New Hampshire to establish, Driftwood, their own camp and boarding facility.  During the summer, they offered two three-week horseback residential riding programs to children.

Gallo realized that the skills she honed while training horses would also make her a better photographer as well.  “Training young horses requires the eye, patience and steadiness needed to become a professional photographer,” she said.  Ultimately, closing her ranch allowed Gallo to bring photography back into her very hectic family life, especially with the time it takes to raise two small children under age seven.

With the purchase of a Canon 7 D and learning about the digital darkroom at  Rhode Island School of Design,  Gallo was off and running, to become a professional photographer.  She traveled to Honduras, with the nonprofit group, Shoulder to Shoulder, to create a photo essay of their work.  This allowed Gallo to provide photos for use in their fundraising, telling their story through many of her camera lenses.  She also did her photo-philanthropy for City Arts and Mount Hope Youth, Center  located in Providence.

Last year, Gallo traveled to Cuba, learning photo-taking tips from the world renowned travel photographer Lorne Resnick., where the experience propelled her into the world of fine art photography. Today, Gallo reflects on her life’s journey where she has found a way to do all that she loves – to be a mom, to work, to travel, to practice photography while at the same time, helping others.

Looking back over the years, Gallo has come to realize that “art is not what you see but what you make others feel.” With Gallo’s attempts to become a full-time photographer, she adds “I’m definitely stepping into unknown waters, it’s kind of like getting on a young horse for the first time.”

Buy Local, Support Your Local Artist Community

             Gallo becomes one of 65 seasoned artists who will show their work at the Foundry Artist Association’s thirtieth anniversary holiday sale, considered to be one of the top regional art sale, showcasing jewelry, glass, pottery, clothing, artwork, photography, and furniture.  As for the last ten years, this Christmas event is held at the historic Pawtucket Armory, located Exchange Street in Pawtucket.  Kicking off last weekend, the holiday sale reopens this Friday, December 7th, noon – 8 p.m., with jazz singer Debra Mann performing from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. ; Saturday, December 8th, 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and closes on Sunday, December 9th, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

The Foundry Show, for Gallo, a first-time Foundry Arts Association participant, allows her to showcase her unique photographic work (her website is www.courageispower.com) to thousands of shoppers, who want to purchase one-of-a-kind photos, with the added benefit of not having to pay sales tax on their purchase.

The show is free to the public with free parking in the adjacent parking. All major credit cards accepted.

For additional information and directions to the Foundry Artist Show visit the website, www.foundryshow.com  and or visit Facebook .

Herb Weiss, LRI ’12, is a Pawtucket-based freelance writer who covers health care, aging, and medical issues.  He can be reached at hweissri@aol.com.