Trumpet Art Gallery Reopens

Jan Dolan, self-portrait 

As artist Mona Adisa Brooks posted on her gallery’s website, “During this time of uncertainty, we need the arts more than ever.” It’s possible never a truer statement has been expressed.

We as patrons need the arts, and Brooks, along with the more than a dozen artists whose work is on display at Trumpet Gallery (much of it created during the pandemic), are compelled to create art. It has been a win-win situation this past year at Brooks’ space at the corner of Grove and Main Streets because she never shut her doors completely. She continued to offer people the opportunity to inquire about and purchase the work inside as well as curbside pickup service.

Earlier this week, she reopened her doors fully to visitors. 

“It wasn’t about sales,” she said. “Once you’re an artist, there’s a commitment and dedication to do the thing you must.” 

She did diversify her income stream in 2020, however, opening a farm stand she named Two Red Umbrellas from which she sells her garden bounty; and offering catering services (“I’m a good cook,” she said) to retain her business.

Brooks describes Trumpet Gallery, in its ninth year, as “a consortium of fine art, theater, music, written word, film video, and education” with the purpose to create “a vital, community-based environment where people of all ages, all walks of life, all cultures, races, and religions can gather to learn, teach, and experience” what art imparts. She features the work of local fine artists working in all media.

“When I opened, I had a vision of the gallery hosting poetry slams, live music, performance art writing workshops,” she said. “I wanted it to be a university for everyone.” So far, the gallery has held up its end of the bargain in all areas.

A window display she created in the window of her gallery a few years before she opened her doors was a springboard to and a peek into her future vision.

The retail space and window had been vacant for some time so she asked the owner if she could use it to display her work. After cleaning up the window, she hung holiday lights and wrote out the first few lines of the poem, “’Twas the Night Before Christmas,” on a long sheet of paper and displayed it in the window to entice passers-by.

“Pockets of people started forming,” she said. “It was fun to see their faces as they saw the work grow into the space.”

Next, she wrote a poem in the style of “Twas the Night Before Christmas” and e-mailed it to everyone she knows to let them know about her project. The poem ended with the stanza: “If somebody purchases a piece of my art, I’ll give a donation with all of my heart; To benefit others who might be in need, for this is the start, this is the seed.”

Her design concept for the two windows was a miniature Saks Fifth Avenue display. 

She began hosting puppet shows in the window and telling stories with an accompanying narrator on the sidewalk and people began to gather outside.

She donated a portion of all her proceeds from the performance art to regional food banks and community kitchens. The idea came from her desire to make a change, having always done social and political work as a full-time artist.

Also, a certified art instructor, Brooks holds classes for aspiring artists from beginner to advanced levels—that arm of her business is called The Art Source. She is back teaching in person after more than a year. 

Many of her students have become professionals themselves, and some have work on display at Trumpet Gallery. One Brooks talked about, Campbell Harvey, a student at Columbia University, created a collection of watercolor portraits inspired by the #metoo movement of the people who came forward with their deeply personal stories of sexual harassment and abuse.

Brooks, who has been a professional artist for 56 years, works in several different media herself, including porcelain, wood, fabric, wire, stone and oil paint. 

Perhaps some of her most recognizable pieces are characters she forms from porcelain. She has described them as the result of the process of discovering human expression and has said she enjoys seeing who she will meet next as she creates a new piece and finishes with the eyes that look right back at her. Indeed, each character has eyes that look out as though there is a soul behind them. She also makes their clothing from silk and other materials. 

Some of her porcelain characters are on exhibit at the gallery, along with soapstone sculpture and painting, including a piece she said is a commentary on the vulnerability of childhood, especially during an experience such as living through a pandemic.

Brooks also creates photography collage and teaches the technique in her class she titled Legacy.

She invites students to bring in a photo of someone to whom they would like to pay tribute. Brooks worked with a photo of her grandfather and another of her daughter. She then guides students in various collage techniques using different materials to trace the history of their ancestry.

“It uncovers the connection we have to our families,” she said of the collage pieces, a selection of which she created are on display at the gallery. 

Other work on exhibit from gallery artists include abOh stract oil painting, self-portraiture, work in cold wax, kinetic sculpture and drawing, among several other media.

A meet-the-artists reception will be held at the gallery Monday, June 12, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. 

For more information about Trumpet Gallery or The Art Source, both at 8 Grove St., Peterborough, contact Mona Adisa Brooks at 801-4502, or via email at monaadisabrooks@gmail.com; or visit wwwtrumpetgallery.com, www.monaadisabrooks.com, or Trumpet Gallery on Facebook or Instagram. Visitors are required to wear masks.


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