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A year after Tropical Storm Irene flooded Waterbury and the surrounding communities, a collective artistic reflection has come together and is ready to be shared with the public.
On Saturday, August 25, the After Irene Floodgates Art Project exhibition opens in downtown Waterbury in a commercial building at 3 Elm Street that was damaged by Irene’s floodwaters a year ago.
The project came together this spring as local artists and community organizers through Revitalizing Waterbury decided to make available blank slates for people to transform into individual works of art. They distributed 6-inch-square panels for people to use as their canvases. Three months later, more than 250 entries have been submitted with images created using a wide variety of media – paint, collage, photographs, print and more.
Artists range in age from preschool and elementary school children in Waterbury, Moretown and the MadRiverValley to elderly residents working together at the local senior center and many in between. The works are unique to each person’s point of view and experience, but they share the common theme of the storm, the flood and its aftermath.
Most entries come from the Waterbury-Duxbury and MadRiverValley communities of Central Vermont, said WaterburyCenter artist and project organizer Sarah-Lee Terrat. Each artist shared their experiences and memories in a graphic and personal way. "So many people told me that they were not ‘artistic’ enough to do this, but my response was that it didn’t matter in the least,” Terrat said. “We were looking for a broad variety of visuals, emotions, and stories and that’s exactly what we received. Every piece that we have collected makes the exhibit richer and more fascinating."
The space chosen for the exhibition at 3 Elm Street dates back to 1900 and was originally a blacksmith shop. Its façade bears a prominent marker noting the high water level from the 1927 flood. A second marker was added to mark the 2011 flood. The property now is undergoing another transformation. The auto parts dealer long on the main level decided not to return after Irene’s floodwaters receded. The property also has new owners, Jeffrey and Maryanne Larkin, who have donated the space for recent art displays including the current Floodgates exhibit.
Floodgates will run through September with hours on Saturdays and two Wednesday evenings. August dates are Saturday, August 25, 3 to 7 p.m. and Wednesday, August 29, 5 to 8 p.m. In September, hours will be noon to 3 p.m. on Saturdays, September 1, 8, 22 and 29. Saturday, September 15, will feature a special community reception from 4 to 7 p.m. The final day will be Wednesday, September 26, 5 to 8 p.m. The Wednesday exhibit hours coincide with Waterbury’s ongoing downtown Art in the Alley event series on the last Wednesday of the month.