Chaffee Undergoes Major Transformation

Chaffee Undergoes Major Transformation

Chaffee Art Center, Temporarily Closing for the Summer

The Chaffee Art Center will close beginning in June for several months of renovations with the goal of reopening in October with a new café, a high-tech gallery space and new classes.

The ArtBeat Café is expected to be one of the centerpieces of the renovation, officials at the nonprofit center announced last week. The eatery will serve locally grown food and a menu that includes soup, pizza, international salads, homemade artisan desserts, fresh bread and local wines and beers by the glass.

A juried co-op display will show works for sale by local, regional and visiting artists. A world gallery will show high-definition, multi-media displays of exhibits from a variety of museums and galleries.

After the renovation, the Chaffee will offer more than 100 courses in subjects like watercolors, microbrewing, organic gardening, writing, quilting and cooking international cuisine.

This year’s project will allow staff at the Chaffee to develop a permaculture exhibit on the grounds, planting fruit trees and vegetables to create an area that is “artistic, aesthetically beautiful (and) edible.”

The overall goal is to make the Chaffee a community center, according to its new executive director, Jim Boughton.

“We’re creating an energy here that has not existed, with the café, with brand-new education offerings (of) over 100 new classes, with new artwork (and) new sculptures, new landscaping, and with the future of the Chaffee utilizing the barn and the carriage house,” Boughton said Tuesday. “We’re going to be a destination point for travelers, for visitors.”

Dimitri Ampatiellos, a member of the board of directors, said the “major transformation” of the Chaffee will mean that “art takes on a bigger, more expansive concept.”

“We’re now going to do something that the Chaffee hasn’t done before, which is a very extensive community outreach program,” he said. “You can come here to experience art and culture, but we’re going to make it more accessible to the community by bringing it out to the community. That means getting to locations in the community where they really haven’t had access to art.”

That goal will be pursued with “Chaffee Art on Wheels,” a mobile studio that will allow the nonprofit to bring art classes to people suffering from disease, dementia, autism or immobilization and to sites like prisons and hospices.

Accessibility will also be improved with a plan to add an elevator to the main building at the Chaffee, Ampatiellos added.

The Chaffee is planning to support the project through a $2.2 million capital campaign that will start in the summer, but Boughton said there is already funding in place to begin the renovations this year.

“We have so many plans for the Chaffee, that we’re going to need support,” Boughton said.

The renovations will require closing the doors of the Chaffee temporarily. The annual student art show is scheduled to run until the middle of May, but then the center will shut down until Oct. 7, the fall Art in the Park weekend.

Boughton said there are two goals for that weekend. The first is to revamp Art in the Park with more and new vendors to make it more of a festival. The second is to show off the changes to the grounds, program and building.

“We need to make the outside of the building feel as creative as the energy on the inside,” he said.

The renovation project is expected to continue. Next year, the Chaffee’s staff plans to add a virtual reality experience that will allow the center to offer other exhibits and displays in remote areas and give audiences a chance to watch artists and their creative processes.

In 2019, “Crossroads,” a review of independent and foreign films, is expected to return, organized by the Chaffee, with the goal of expanding the event to become a local film festival at the Chaffee barn and other venues.

Beyond that, staff at the nonprofit center are developing the “Chaffee Pre-school and Children’s Creativity and Imagineering Center,” a full-service pre-school and after-school art and creativity space.

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