An interview with an entrepreneur, artist or creative who’s doing cool things.
A Chat with Rose Bryant of Art Up Front Street
Exeter, New Hampshire (where I live) is a picturesque community 10 miles from the Atlantic Ocean, and smack dab in the middle of the state’s 18 mile coastline between Maine and Massachusetts.
Behind the town’s quiet facade is a growing artistic “underground.” And a key player in that movement is local artist Rose Bryant and her husband, Mal Argondizza. The couple recently opened Art Up Front Street, an artists’ collective that combines studio and gallery space; among the studio renters is Anne Marie Kenny, whose “industrial quilts” made of hardware and wire mesh are exhibited in museums across the country, as well as local artists Wo Schiffman, Gaby Grossman, Deb Wheeler-Bean and Dawn Amey. Art Up Front is the first venture of its type in the area and residents, as well as local artists, are thrilled.
The idea for Art Up Front Street happened organically. Rose taught youth art classes out of her home years ago, Salmon House Art, then started her own painting projects. “I started meeting artists and like-minded people and then I thought about offering art studio space,” Rose says. She and Mal visited other art gallery/artists’ studio spaces for ideas and looked at several places before purchasing the building that’s now Art Up Front in 2016. They did much of the finishing work themselves and worked with local contractor Peter Johnson and various community volunteers to get everything painted and organized in time for their public opening last January. The 2500 square feet of space includes an gallery featuring the work of resident artists; seven artists’ studio spaces; a kitchen area; space for classes; basement storage; and Rose and Mal’s offices in the back (Mal is a computer repair guru). Artists’ rent includes marketing and advertising by Rose, who’s mastered the fine art of Facebook, enewsletters, and blogging for the organization; a portion of artists’ sales in the gallery as well as any class fees go to Rose and Mal.
“I wasn’t sure how the artists would respond but they’re thrilled to be here,” Rose says. “I think people in Exeter are starved for someplace to land.”
If you didn’t make it to Art Up Front’s opening, you have another opportunity: their first annual Art Up Front Street Spring Show is this weekend: Friday, May 12, 1 – 7 pm and Saturday, May 13, 10 am – 4 pm. Art Up Front St. is located at — aptly — 120 Front St., Exeter; 603.418.6286.