77 Art 1

Artist Whitney Ramage, a Rutland native who works in Brooklyn, N.Y., is founder and director of 77ART artist residency, which is just beginning its second year.

Adeline Praud wants to take pictures not just of Rutland families, but of what Rutlanders think of as their families.

The French artist will take family portraits tonight at the first open house being held by 77ART at the organization’s new space in the Opera House. 77ART residency director Whitney Ramage said the group will keep its name despite having to relocate from their original, namesake space at 77 Grove St.

“It’s going to keep being 77ART and it’s part of our origin story,” Ramage said Tuesday. “You wouldn’t know it’s necessarily here, but in the art world at large, we’re starting to get a little bit of a reputation, and we’d be sorry to lose that.”

Praud is doing a residency with 77ART and Ramage said she wanted to do the family portrait project as a way of celebrating the new family she has found in Rutland, starting with an earlier project chronicling the lives of Dismas House residents.

“She’s interested in doing portraits of many different depictions of families as Rutlanders see it,” Ramage said. “Your family could be your band or you and your houseplants, or you and your bicycle or your best friends. ... I’m planning on showing up with my brother and my dog.”

Praud said she was inspired by Malian photographer Malick Sibide, whose portraiture created a cultural record of his country.

“It’s an opportunity for people to create their own representation ... an idea of who are the families in Rutland today,” she said. “More than that, it’s a gift I would like to give to the community.”

The event, which begins at 7 p.m., is free and open to the public. Ramage said they will request — but not require — donations from families who wish to bring home a print of their portrait. She said the gallery will host a show of the portraits if enough families consent.

Ramage said settling into the new space has been “99% wonderful.” She said it has more square footage overall, which the group is organizing with less exhibit space but more studio and workspace.

“It’s so different and unique and strong,” she said. “We’ll be more visible.”

Also, it will be more frequently staffed, she said, with someone on hand to explain exhibits to visitors. She said the hours were still being determined.

gordon.dritschilo

@rutlandherald.com

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