Look, don't touch: Cultural center reopens with socially distanced art exhibition

Jul 31, 2020

After a more than four month hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, patrons were able to walk through the red door of the Dartmouth Cultural Center again, albeit with new social distancing measures in place. 

On July 31, dozens of people — all wearing masks — trickled through the center’s reopening to look at the impressionist works of South Coast artist Milton Brightman.

“It’s so nice to see art in person again,” Dartmouth resident Hailey Hebert said. 

Mattapoisett resident Yasmin Vincent agreed, adding that this was the first art exhibition they had gone to since the pandemic began.

“Milton’s art is much more vibrant here than seeing it online,” Vincent said.

Closed since March, DCC President Jill Law said the center has had to cancel nearly all of the events it had planned for the spring.

“It certainly hasn’t been an easy time,” Law said. “This building is so much better when there are people inside of it.” 

The center has offered a few online and outdoor classes amid its closure, including workshops on planting World War II style victory gardens in May and June and a small plein air painting class earlier this month.

“That particular class was absolutely fabulous,” Law said.

She said she also hopes to expand the center’s socially distanced offerings such as its “Wet Paint Padanaram” event, an outdoor program where artists paint the harbor and sell the final products.

“We’re just not entirely sure on its feasibility yet,” she said. “That event normally has around 40 to 50 people.”

Overall, Law said that she’s very happy to be open again and thought the first day of the exhibition went very well. She said she was especially pleased with how everyone made sure to keep their masks on and maintain their space inside the gallery and during the meet-and-greet with Brightman.

Brightman said he was very pleased with the turnout, saying that he had been to a few socially distanced showings around the area, only for just a few people to show up. 

As for the meet-and-greet, the painter said most of the conversations he had were trying to catch up with some of his friends after not seeing them for months.

“We hardly even talked about the art,” he laughed.

The exhibition will run through August by appointment only. Hours will be 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

No more than six people will be allowed inside the center at a time, and masks will be required for entry.