Northampton’s Oxbow Gallery heading to Easthampton

  • The Oxbow Gallery at 273 Pleasant Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Oxbow Gallery at 273 Pleasant Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

  • The Oxbow Gallery at 273 Pleasant Street in Northampton. STAFF PHOTO/KEVIN GUTTING

Staff Writer
Published: 11/5/2021 12:16:48 PM

NORTHAMPTON — The Oxbow Gallery, the artists’ collective that has maintained a small but active space on Pleasant Street since 2004, is moving to Easthampton in December, where they’ll take up new digs on Cottage Street in the heart of that city’s state-designated Cultural District.

The collective’s new location, 40 Cottage Street, previously was home to a number of other art galleries, most recently #Local Galley, which closed in April 2020 after the pandemic began shutting things down.

Oxbow members say they’ve enjoyed their time in Northampton, where they’ve not only staged dozens and dozens of shows over the years, including group exhibits but hosted films, poetry readings, guest lectures, and more.

But the Cottage Street space is a bit larger and less expensive than the Pleasant Street one, members say, and the chance to be part of Easthampton’s lively arts community also appeals.

“We’re certainly not leaving Northampton with any bitterness,” said Belchertown painter Joanne Holtje, an Oxbow member since 2014. “We’re really grateful for the support we’ve had here. But this is a new opportunity for us, and we’re pretty excited about it.”

Holtje said the idea of moving to a different location “was kicked around” periodically by group members in some recent years but picked up momentum during the pandemic, “which gave us time to reflect on what we what might do in the future.”

The Oxbow, located at 273 Pleasant Street near the intersection with Holyoke Street and Michelman Avenue, has 44 member artists — painters, printmakers, sculptors, quilters, installation artists, and more — who pay an annual fee, which can be reduced by splitting exhibit time with another member or serving time staffing the gallery.

Every three years, members of the collective, who are predominantly from this area but sometimes from further afield, including other Northeastern states, are entitled to one solo or shared exhibit in the gallery’s main display area and to another in a smaller space in the gallery.

Holtje said one of the appeals of the Easthampton space is that it has some moveable walls and thus can be configured in a similar way to the Northampton gallery. She said the room is both wider and has higher ceilings.

“It will be a better fit for installation artists or other folks who are not just using the walls to display their work,” she said.

The gallery began in February of 2004 when a small group of painters, including Leeds artist Stanley Lewis and two of his former students, found the Pleasant Street space, bought insurance and consulted a lawyer. Then they invited every local artist they knew to an initial meeting and formed the collective.

Holtje said 12 of the original members of Oxbow are still part of the collective, “so there’s some real continuity in the group.” For her and another longtime member, Amherst painter Lorna Ritz, say they’ve enjoyed a real sense of community with the collective as well.

Current Oxbow members plan to refurbish the Easthampton space this month and open it Dec. 2. On Dec. 10, they’ll open a group member show as well. The title? “Making Moves: Crossing the Manhan.”

More information about the Oxbow galley is available at oxbowartgallery.com.

Steve Pfarrer can be reached at spfarrer@gazettenet.com.


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