ArtUp a success, may grow
By Grant Welker
LOWELL — From the start, the idea was an ambitious one that had its share of doubters.
The program would ask donors to buy art that they would never be able to hang in their home. Instead, it would be placed in a health center they weren’t even likely to visit. The art would also have to be more costly, so the health center and the artists could share the profits equally.
“We were kind of skeptical as to whether that would fly,” said Michael Gallagher, a Lowell attorney and downtown resident who created the program. But more than a year after its start, ArtUp has been called a success by all involved. The Lowell Community Health Center now has about 160 pieces of art on its walls, with space for many more. There has even been interest from other centers
Please see ARTUP/14
Checking out “Intersection of Main and Sanders,” an oil on canvas by Miranda Updike of Ipswich, hanging at the Lowell Community Health Center are, from left, ArtUp founder Michael Gallagher, artist John Cascio, patron Jack Moynihan, committee member Caroline Gallagher and artist, committee member and donor Bill Reedy, all of Lowell.
ArtUp a proven success, may grow
ARTUP/ From Page 1and offices in Lowell to do something similar.
“We know now, it’s proven. It works,” said Bill Reedy, a Lowell resident and artist who has several works in the health center.
The program has been enough of a success that a celebratory event, called Art Is Up, is scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 14, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
The health center’s space at 161 Jackson St. is 100,000 square feet, leaving a lot of walls that would be blank if not for ArtUp. Now, there are works of all kinds from about 100 artists who either live in Lowell or have work space in the city.
“We like to say we’re one of the largest art museums in the commonwealth,”Gallagher said of LCHC.
ArtUp combined two partners and met a need each had. Lowell has dozens of artists, many of whom sometimes struggle to sell their work and make ends meet. The health center moved into its cavernous space downtown in 2012, and had an opportunity to add splashes of color that could also serve in a therapeutic way to the nearly 50,000 patients who visit each year.
Artist Donna Howard, who lives in Lowell and has space at Gallery Z, has three pieces in the health center.
“It feels great. It was a win-win situation for everyone,” Howard said. She’s also among a small number with several works chosen.
“I know,” she said witha smile. “Amazing.” Donors include many local residents, such as Jack Moynihan, a co-chairman of the Lowell Downtown Neighborhood Association, who has bought several works with his wife. Moynihan said he was initially skeptical that ArtUp would provide enough proceeds for artists to be worthwhile. He has sincebeen won over. Other donors have included foundations and people wanting to donate in memory of loved ones. The Theodore Edson Parker Foundation gave $75,000.
So far, about $150,000 has been collected, split between the health center and artists. For the health center, the proceeds go to its Wraparound Fund, which covers services thatare otherwise not covered.
Acall for entries in early 2015 brought forward more than 100 artists with more than 500 pieces of art, much more than organizers expected. Clare Gunther, the director of development and communications for the health center, said she has since gotten calls about once a week from artists interesting in taking part.
As the health center’s space fills with art, there will be more opportunities.
Next month, the center will start work on a 65,000-square-foot, $25 million expansion into vacant space in the same mill building. That space is expected to open before the end of 2017.