Pelham Art Center hosts 50th Anniversary Gala that details a long history of art


Pelham Art Center Executive Director Charlotte Mouquin (right) and Gallery Advisory Board member Victoria Rolett at the opening reception of the IN/FLUX exhibit.

The Pelham Art Center hosted a virtual gala to celebrate its 50th anniversary last Friday, at which officials detailed the history of the organization from its origins to today.

To begin the gala, Executive Chairwoman Lisa Koonce spoke about the future of the Pelham Art Center. “In 2020, our vision is a community setting with enhanced studio and exhibition spaces, sustainable and forward looking improvements to our physical plan, and technology to efficiently support our administration and enhance engagement,” Koonce said.

In addition, a short film detailed the history of the center.

The film described that in 1969, a small group who were trained at the Metropolitan Museum of Art decided to host a town-wide arts festival in Pelham called “The Art Happening.” One of the original founders of this festival, Peggy Nicholson, said, “Art needed to be emphasized more than it had been, and we thought it would help unify some of the community, and we think it did.”

According to the film, this arts festival was held in the Pelham Memorial High School gymnasium with hundreds of attendants viewing the art. This was the first time Pelham had hosted an art exhibition, and its success brought more attention to art in Pelham. To replicate this, local Pelham residents were able to lease two adjoining storefronts and eventually converted the spaces into the Pelham Art Center. The short film continued, stating that in the 1980s, the city gifted a corner property to the Pelham Art Center, allowing the group to further realize their vision. They were able to turn this corner lot into a new wing that people could enter to immerse themselves in art.

“To provide any kind of art exposure, it is life enhancing for everyone,” said Candice Taubner, gallery advisory board representative. “But particularly the children should be exposed.”

“The driving force for the majority of the people that worked on this project was creating a center in the community that could be shaped by the community,” explained Barbara Bratone, first director of the Pelham Art Center.

The event concluded with an auction and an awards ceremony. To watch the full gala, click here.