"On the CreativeGround" with AVA Gallery and Art Center

Program Coordinator, Creative Economy

The CreativeGround team here, for our very first edition of "On the CreativeGround with…" where we go behind the scenes to bring you the people and places that make New England’s creative economy thrive.


Today, we’re on the ground with Adam Blue, Education Director, and Margaret Jacobs, Exhibition Coordinator of AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon, NH. For more information about AVA Gallery and Art Center, check out its CreativeGround profile, of course! But without further ado, meet Adam and Margaret:

CreativeGround (CG): Adam and Margaret, what is a typical day for you at AVA?

Adam Blue (AB): AVA is a very dynamic organization so there isn’t really a typical day. At any given moment, I am likely to be welcoming a new visitor to AVA, helping set up a teaching studio for a children’s class or an adult workshop, producing content for the website and/or our eNewsletter, serving on a committee, or preparing for an event.

Margaret Jacobs (MJ): There is never a typical day at AVA!  There is always something different going on so it can vary from taking class registrations or helping set-up for special events to meeting with artists and hosting special programming! If I’m installing an exhibition then I generally split the day between being in the gallery working with exhibiting artists, interns and volunteers and working in the office on exhibition related matters.

CG: In perfect agreement on that one! For our readers who may not be familiar with AVA’s events or programming, what is the one event or offering at AVA that should not be missed?

AB: Every event has its own unique character. The Opening Reception and Award Ceremony for our Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition is a blast. Our annual Silent Auction Party is another high-energy gathering, with artists, patrons, families and friends coming together to share in the arts.

MJ: AVA’s Annual Silent Auction and Exhibition – the party will be on March 29 this year.

CG: AVA’s Silent Auction for the win. Now that we have an idea of what you do on the clock, tell us how you’re involved the creative sector off the clock. Let’s start with what you’re reading. What is your favorite arts blog or online publication?

AB: Here are seven:,,,,,,

MJ: I love NH E-Opps! It includes opportunities for artists, arts administrators, arts educators, and others interested in the arts.

(Editor's note: NH E-Opps! is published by the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts. Visit the NHSCA's website to subscribe)

CG: This is fun. Let’s try another. Name three New England artists, creative businesses, or cultural nonprofits we should all know about.

AB: Helen Day Art Center in Stowe, VT; the Main Street Museum in White River Junction, VT; The Center for Cartoon Studies in White River Junction, VT.

MJ: The Native Arts and Culture Foundation (NACF); they are a fairly new organization dedicated to promoting Native arts and cultures. They offer several grants for native artists and arts organizations. The Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT; the Studio Center is the largest international artists' and writers' Residency Program in the United States. They have recently increased their fellowship support dramatically. CATV; CATV provides access to debate local issues, showcase artistic expression and celebrate school and community happenings.  If you are a non-profit in the Upper Valley, they offer free services for your organization related to promotion and media access.

CG: How about this one - what was the last New England creative business or cultural nonprofit you visited, and what did you see?

AB: The American Precision Museum in Windsor, VT. Their museum contains the largest collection of historically significant machine tools in the nation. It’s fascinating.

MJ: Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction, VT. White River Junction is full of creative businesses and I recently visited to see what Stacy Hopkins, the owner and metalsmith, was up to in her new gallery.

CG: If AVA could collaborate with any New England creative business, cultural nonprofit, or artist, which/whom would it be and why?

MJ: It would be great to work with a local culinary school, bakery, farm, etc. to do a project on art and food.  One of AVA’s Board Members donated a book to our library titled ‘Modern Art Desserts’ by Caitlin Freeman and it features desserts based on iconic works of art.  It would be great to do something similar but give it a local flavor, maybe creating edible artworks by AVA members.  It could incorporate the different creative talents of community members in different ways--not only would it be fun but delicious as well!

CG: Perhaps CreativeGround could help find those community members? How else does CreativeGround serve AVA?

AB: AVA’s presence in CreativeGround attracts new talent to our community art center, increasing the quality of the exhibitions we’re able to curate; the ability to search for performing artists enriches the diversity of the events we’re able to produce; and new audiences are able to find us and join us as we strive to make art a part of daily life.

CG: Last but not least, what reason would you give New England artists, creative businesses and cultural nonprofits as to why they should be listed on CreativeGround?

AB: With aggregated information about the abundance of New England’s cultural and creative assets into a single database, interested parties can efficiently access the artists, events, and institutions that match their interests – a win-win-win situation for everyone!

MJ: It is a wonderful way for artists and businesses to network among peers and connect with others working in a similar field. It will give artists a way to discover venues to view and show artwork as well as businesses and nonprofits to discover individuals that might benefit from their organizations.

Thank you, Adam and Margaret, for helping us get to know a bit more about New England’s creative professionals and how they participate in the sector - because let's face it, as New England celebrities to us, we want to know what you’re doing, what you’re reading, and where you’re going!

Stay tuned for the next installment of "On the CreativeGround with…" Until then, enjoy digging into CreativeGround!

Photo Credit: image of Margaret Jacobs by Jack Rowell; image of Adam Blue by Gareth Henderson