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Gamut Room expands art space

By Middlebury Campus

Author: Grace Duggan

Hidden in the bottom of Gifford Hall, the Gamut Room is easy to miss. Students in the know can walk in and find themselves in a relaxing café, innovative performance space and continuous art project all rolled into one. Despite a decrease in popularity and visibility following the construction of the Grille, with the help of approximately thirty volunteers the Gamut Room continues to open its doors to students looking for a place to study, play music or find a late-night snack.

Hoping to bring more students into the space, the first of what co-managers Emmeline Cardozo ’09 and Lizzie Quinn ’09 hope will be a number of exhibits in the gallery space opened this past Monday to a modest crowd. Slated to run through Thanksgiving break, the exhibit includes work from five students: Jessica Appelson ’12, Denise Hofmann ’11, Nick Sohl ’10, Ali Urban ’12 and Yiling Zhang ’12. Lacking any overall theme, the exhibit is a mix of black & white and color prints with subjects as varied as Tiananmen Square, the Tour de France, portraits and closeups of flowers.

This exhibit marks the first use of the improved gallery space, an area of the Gamut Room that Cardozo and Quinn decided could no longer be ignored.

“It’s been neglected and rundown for the past couple of years,” said Cardozo.

“We used to have a gallery space divided by this big wall in the middle,” added Quinn. “We decided that we wanted to have more space for student art. We’ve basically doubled the gallery space in size.”

They expanded the space, had new track lighting installed and repainted the walls. Given enough student interest, the expanded gallery space could prove a valuable addition to the student art community in conjunction with emerging outlets such as the Old Stone Mill Gallery and 51 Main – both of which solicited students artwork in a campus-wide e-mail on Oct. 27 – as well as The Center Gallery for Student Art, which is unavailable this semester because of renovations to the McCullough Student Center.

“We’re starting small with this exhibit,” said Cardozo. “We want to test out the response with the exhibit in this space. A lot of people don’t even know the Gamut Room exists … I think that if more people knew it was here, they would take advantage of it.”

“Our ideal would be that people who do art could use this space how they want, to take ownership and come alive in here,” added Quinn.

A fresh approach to the gallery space supports the general feel of the space, a collage of colorful murals constantly in flux.

Said Cardozo, “Given the space that we have, the Gamut Room is an ongoing project in itself. We’re trying to get new murals up on the walls on the blank space we have.”

The possibility of more art exhibits is just one component of the Gamut Room’s diverse programming. Middlebury Open Improv, started by Assistant Professor of Philosophy Kareem Khalifa and Tristan Axelrod ’08 last fall, organizes monthly events open to anyone who feels like playing music. Picking the Gamut Room was a deliberate choice made not only because of its central location but also because of its unique vibe.

“We liked the subterranean, independent and intimate feel of the Gamut Room,” said Khalifa. “Generally, we wanted an environment where people would come to listen to the musicians as opposed to treating the music as background for conversation.”

The group’s most recent event took place on Oct. 30 and called for the creation of a new soundtrack for the 1922 vampire film “Nosferatu.” There are a number of student bands and musicians that have performed in the space, along with well-known musicians like Jamie Masefield of the Jazz Mandolin Project, who performed with Doug Perkins on Oct. 29 and Ana’s Mitchell ’04, who will return to the Gamut Room this year on Dec. 2 and 3.

The Gamut Room is open Sunday through Thursday from 8 p.m. to 1 a.m.

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