MIDDLEBURY —The Town Hall Theater is planning the installation of a so-called chain link gallery in Triangle Park that will add color to downtown Middlebury amidst construction set to begin in the area in the coming weeks. Through the help of a $75,000 grant provided by the Vermont Agency of Transportation, the THT is recruiting artists to create a rotating art exhibit that will fill a chain-link fence that might otherwise have been nothing more than an eyesore to passersby.
Triangle Park will become a construction site in the coming months as work begins to replace the Main Street and Merchants Row rail bridges with a new tunnel, according to the Addison County Independent. The new fence will be installed in the area in the next few weeks as a safety measure, and the Town Hall Theater aims to beautify the area by turning it into a dazzling public gallery featuring work by local artists.
Neighbors Together, an organization of local business owners focused on the well-being of the downtown area to which the THT belongs, tasked the Theater with developing a plan that would make the fence a more pleasant fixture in the downtown landscape. The Town Hall Theater has experience with public art projects in the past that made them well suited to the project, according to Theater executive director Douglas Anderson. “We kind of have a track record in big public art projects, so that’s why everybody looked at me and said, ‘what are you gonna do with that chain link fence,’” Anderson said.
The $75,000 grant was provided to Neighbors Together for the purpose of aiding the organization’s efforts to maintain the downtown area during the rail project, according to the Vermont Agency of Transportation.
The fence’s grid-like structure inspired the plan for the gallery. According to Anderson, each participating artist will be provided a section of fence that they will be able to make their own. “We thought, hey, a chain link fence is a grid, a lot of art is based on a grid, from weaving and tapestry to computer arts,” Anderson said. “So why don’t we treat the fence as a grid and ask artists to find creative ways to create imagery based on the grid using whatever materials they like?”
Artists will have complete freedom in deciding exactly what form their art will take as a component of the Chain Link Gallery. With the help of the Transportation Agency grant, Neighbors Together will even be able to cover the costs of materials and labor required to help with installation.
“[Artists] could use colorful plastic cups or they could use colorful ribbon or they could use fabric or whatever they like,” Anderson said. “Part of the fun of this is to see what different materials artists bring to us that will make amazing art there on the green.”
And the exhibits will rotate: new works by different artists will cycle in and out of each panel so that the Chain Link Gallery continues to provide the downtown area with a degree of colorful change as construction continues. “I think if even the most amazing art in the world were up there you would get bored with it,” Anderson said. “It’s a way of keeping that central corner of downtown Middlebury interesting and alive and fresh.”
Anderson hopes that artists from the Middlebury student body will get involved in the project as well. Any students interested in contributing should email email@example.com.