Bellows Falls’ art walk will relaunch this summer

BF3F will return as Third Fridays Downtown Bellows Falls, says Emmett Dunbar, whose gallery has kept live arts going monthly throughout the pandemic

BELLOWS FALLS — Canal Street Art Gallery Business/Marketing Director Emmett Dunbar is fairly bursting with energy and excitement that a live Third Friday art event is returning to his gallery May 21.

“We're really excited,” says the energetic Dunbar, who is co-owner of the gallery with friend and oil painter Mike Noyes.

Dunbar is also president of the Bellows Falls Downtown Development Alliance and part of a group of artists and interested folks who have been meeting for the past year to reinvent the Bellows Falls Third Friday (BF3F) art walk after a decade in existence.

“Our goal is to definitely bring it back, make it happen again, but we realize BF3F doesn't mean anything to people who don't know, so we're going to relaunch it as Third Fridays Downtown Bellows Falls,” Dunbar says, adding the hope is to rebrand and make it happen this summer.

While there are not many galleries in town, there are “tons” of artists who are busy working in their studios, says Dunbar.

The goal is to incorporate their work, along with author readings and other events promoted through local businesses, into a newly invented art walk, he said.

While much stopped during the COVID-19 pandemic, Canal Street Gallery carried the torch for the art walk - albeit virtually.

“We just kind of renamed it 'Bellows Falls Third Friday Gallery Night with Facebook Live' and meeting the artists,” says Dunbar, adding the gallery was open by appointment. “It's been great for people to be able to see the artists virtually and talk with them about their artwork and let people have that personal connection.”

“We had everything lined up when Covid came, so we never missed a beat and just kept on,” he continues. “We actually signed eight more artists and increased our art stock.”

CSAG has been “growing all the time when a lot of galleries closed,” Dunbar notes. “In the art world, not much is sold online and so it's really, really hard for galleries to be closed.”

He said CSAG actually started with an online presence when it opened four years ago and has been selling online and shipping all over the world.

“So we entered the whole thing with a more positive, bigger impression because we were already doing that. Our sales have been off, but we never stopped and it's really exciting,” he said.

The next Third Friday event, on Friday, May 21, at CSAG will include a Facebook Live interview at 6 p.m. The gallery will be open to the public from 5 to 8 p.m., but because it is small, just four people at a time will be permitted indoors. However, there is ample space outdoors for overflow.

The featured exhibit, which runs May 12 though June 12, is “Keiser + Kekic Color Light Pattern,” highlighting the paintings of Putney artist Carol Keiser and fine-art blown glass from Nicholas Kekic of Tsuga Studios in Bellows Falls.

“The special events that used to be so fun, social, and raise awareness have been absent for too long,” Dunbar said of BF3F. “Now many artists are coming together to form a strong working group with a stronger message about historic downtown Bellows Falls. More great stuff is going to be happening this summer.”

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