WOOLWICH — Sarah Bouchard’s new art gallery, located a few miles off Highway 1 in the woods of this Midcoast community, isn’t likely to be busy, if at all, by car or on foot.
Those interested in the work on display there will have to seek it out, but Bouchard hopes they will.
“It’s a big risk,” she said recently from inside the space, a converted garage that’s attached to her house by a breezeway. “But that’s what I want to do, and I take the role of commissioner very seriously.”
Bouchard is an artist herself and has worked in other people’s galleries for years, building relationships with a formidable roster of artists. In April 2020, when the pandemic hit, she lost her job at Corey Daniels Gallery in Wells and “made a complete reassessment of my life”.
“I always thought about opening my own space. It was a dream of mine,” she said.
Bouchard first got the itch as a student at the University of Maine at Farmington when she curated her first exhibition under Sarah Maline, associate professor of art history and gallery director.
She said the things she learned from Maline, especially about how to display work so nothing else distracts her, were put to good use in her own gallery.
She initially thought she would open in Portland or somewhere more visible, but after talking to some people in the arts community, she decided on a less conventional approach. She spent about $75,000 to renovate the space above her garage.
What was once envisioned as an in-laws apartment is now a sparse, high-ceilinged, white-walled gallery showcasing works by Maine artists. The inaugural exhibition, “A Gallery of Aces”, is now on display.
The six contemporary artists chosen for the first exhibition, whose work will be available for purchase, are all renowned and have been exhibited in museums and galleries across the state and beyond. They are: Josefina Auslender, an Argentine artist who now lives in Maine; digital artist Michael Mansfield; painter Dozier Bell of Waldoboro and her husband, Ken Greenleaf; and Kate Russo, painter and daughter of author Richard Russo and her husband, Tom Butler.
Greenleaf said he got to know Bouchard through her work at the Corey Daniels Gallery and said he was impressed by the seriousness with which she approached her work.
“I’m not necessarily someone who’s hungry to show off anymore because I’ve been doing it for so long,” he said. “So when I’m looking for relationships, it’s all about trust. I want to work with someone who has the guts, the strength and the experience to run a gallery.
Bell said she, too, was drawn to Bouchard’s aesthetic, which is similar to hers.
“The people I’ve worked with and been happy with, they love art and artists and aren’t necessarily as preoccupied with the business side of things,” Bell said. “She’s definitely not targeting a market, but rather showing what she likes, and I think others like that approach as well.”
Now that Bouchard’s space is open, Greenleaf said he was even more impressed. He’s never seen anything like it, at least in Maine.
“A lot of galleries it’s about the building or the location, but it’s all about the artwork,” he said.
Bouchard said she envisions five shows each year from April through October. The next three exhibitions will be solo, and the final exhibition in 2022 will offer a mix of artists similar to the current exhibition.
Bell’s work will be featured in the gallery’s first solo exhibition later this month.
People who inquire about another gallery “filled with lighthouses and landscapes” are likely to be disappointed, Bouchard said, but she wants an unassuming gallery. Viewings are by appointment only, although Bouchard lives on the premises, she hopes to welcome art lovers on their terms. No purchase is required to visit.
“My commutes are great,” she said, adding that the flexibility also allows her to create her own work, although she won’t be exhibiting her pieces at the gallery.
For more information about the gallery, located at 13 Nequasset Pines Road in Woolwich, visit sarahbouchardgallery.com.