By Denise Coffey – Staff Writer
The Gallery on Main Street has taken what was once an empty Putnam storefront and turned it into a cultural attraction in only three months. Since August, when Paul Toussaint and Ann Monteiro led efforts to clean and paint a portion of space behind the door at 112 Main St., it has become a magnet for art and artists. Its success has been a boon for the city.
Its grand opening featured the work of several artists. Toussaint’s photographs, created with an iPhone and photography applications were included. He’s received international attention since winning first place in the 2012 iPhone Photography Awards.
That initial show led to a second show, then a third. Today the gallery showcases prints, photography, sculptures and paintings inspired by the Derek Nicoletto release of “Just Panic and Get it Over With.” Nicoletto called for a world-wide visual accompaniment to his music when the album was released in April 2013. Putnam area artists and businesses obliged, when Nicoletto visited town in late October. His music and lyrics inspired menu changes at area restaurants, performances at local venues, and exhibits at Putnam galleries. WINY invited him to be a guest on its morning radio show. And now parts of Putnam are featured on Nicoletto’s Facebook page.
Toussaint, whose star is rising on many fronts, has fostered the growth and extended the reach of the gallery. In March, he will speak at the Macworld/Iworld Conference in San Francisco. The Gallery on Main Street will be one of his focuses.
In April, the gallery will host the east coast launch of Mobile Masters 2: Crossing the Threshold, by Dan Marcolina. The first Mobile Masters application had 50 notable iPhone photographers talking about their technique and vision. Toussaint was one of them.
“We hope to have several iPads for people to interact with,” Toussaint said. He’s also trying to get artists featured in that application to exhibit their work in Putnam for the event.
The gallery is trying to schedule a showing of “SVAW!” a video installation by Giancarlo Beltrame. The video is a collection of images taken or processed solely with smart phones. Putnam would join Vincenza and Verona, Italy, and other cities around the world, in showing the installation meant to stop violence against women.
Gov. Dannel Malloy has stopped by to see what the hullabaloo is all about. In early December, Sen. Don Williams, Jr., Betty Hale, Christopher “Kip” Bergstrom and a contingent of others plan to visit to make an announcement, according to Toussaint.
Bergstrom is the executive director of Commission on Culture and Tourism for the state. Toussaint is hoping the announcement might include a gift of grant money to guarantee the gallery’s continuing growth and outreach into the community. He and Monteiro would like to open up studio space for artists and create room for art and photography classes. “We can only speculate about what that announcement will be,” Toussaint said.
Both he and Monteiro hope it might be something that helps the thriving gallery.
“I love coming to the gallery every day,” Toussaint said. “I feel like this is my home and this town is my community. We have a gallery that the community is a part of.”