2011 was a big, big year for Porter Mill – mainly because it was our first! Here’s a recap of the year.
January – The 1895 factory building located at 95 Rantoul Street Beverly, MA and formerly known as RedBrick Art Center is purchased by George Vernet of Vernet Properties, located in Salem, MA Options under consideration include conversion of the entire building to condominiums.
Porter Mill, before it was Porter Mill in 2008. Photo Credit Unknown.
February – George reconsiders the condo option in favor of turning the building into a vibrant artist community. Construction and cleaning begin. Bea Modisett is hired to manage the artists’ studios. The name of the building is changed from Red Brick to Porter Mill – a throwback to Porter Sewing Company, which occupied the building in the 1980s.
March – Lease signing begins! Artists from throughout the area begin to hear about this exciting new project and commit to being a part of it.
April – Workers scramble to get the building up to code. Walls are built, wiring is updated, and installation of an elevator begins. A goal is to fill the first floor with artist related businesses, and Pressbound, a letterpress shop, agrees to be the first! Mystic Athletics soon follows. Three-quarters of the studios are already leased – word is spreading quickly!
May – The original move-in date of May 15th has to be postponed; elevators are tricky business. Workers continue to clean and renovate the building to get it into shape. The last of the studios is leased and we are officially at full capacity! The first floor now has a Barber Shop and a group of three artists committed.
June – The studios are ready, with fresh coats of paint and renovated bathrooms, but we are still waiting for the city to grant us our occupancy permit. This comes at the end of the month when the building is declared up to code. Porter Mill artists participate in Beverly Arts Fest and continue spreading the word about our beloved building.
July – Artists move into Porter Mill!!! The studios are filled with energy as keys are handed out and people start to bring in their paintings, sculptures, art supplies and furniture. Doors and hallways soon fill with art, and the artists meet new friends and many realize they are now neighbors with artists they already know. The elevator is finally completed at the end of the month.
August – We have our first artist meet-up. Porter Mill artists get the chance to officially meet each other and see inside their neighbor’s studios. September 25th is set as the date for the 1st Open Studios and Grand Opening Celebration.
September – Porter Mill artist Adam Ziskie revitalizes the artist entrance with a beautiful mural. The gallery is installed with Inaugural: The Artists of Porter Mill – a group exhibition. The building and the upcoming event are featured in an article in the Salem News. On September 25th over 250 people attend the Open Studios Event and Grand Opening Celebration. SWAY provides live music while we celebrate in the gallery.
October/November – Artists continue to settle into their spaces and ready themselves for the upcoming Holiday Open Studios. Owner George Vernet begins talks with an architect to build out the undeveloped second floor into 13 additional studios and a classroom. The waiting list for a space at Porter Mill continues to grow. The first Open Call to artists to participate in the upcoming small works exhibitions in the Gallery at Porter Mill is sent out. Maggie Cavallo of the galleries at Montserrat College of Art agrees to jury the submissions. Two new beautiful awnings are put up on the building and the words “Porter Mill” and “Artists” are finally there for all to see! Jesse Stansfield Photography moves into the first floor.
December – The 1st Annual Small Works Exhibition is installed in the gallery. Juror Maggie Cavallo combs through over 200 images and narrows them down to 45 to create a beautifully coherent and exciting exhibition. On December 1st over 80 artists and art supporters attend the Opening Reception for the exhibition. On December 3rd the public is welcomed once again into the studios to see what the artists of Porter Mill have created and to celebrate the holidays.
This was a fantastic year, and everyone involved in the project is eagerly looking forward to what 2012 will bring. The gallery is booked with exciting exhibitions through September, planning is already in full swing for a June Open Studios Event, the classroom will be up and running, the new studios will be complete and 13 new artists will be joining us!
So here’s to an exciting and art-filled 2012.
Happy New Year!!!