Community Gallery Opens at Demakes Family YMCA

American Gothic. The Scream. Starry Night. Picasso. O’Keefe. Cezanne. These famous titles are household names for many, and for two months, members of the new Demakes Family YMCA had the opportunity to view them on their way to swim lessons or to shoot hoops. Or at least, a miniature version of these and other masterpieces.

In May, when the new Y opened to the public, a Community Gallery was established in the sunny hallway leading to the Gymnasium. Featured for view to thousands of Y members was a set of 16 square 6″x6″ hand-painted tiles. These small but beautiful pieces, inspired by painted legends of the great masters, were created by the talented art students at St. Mary’s High School just blocks from the new Y.

“The students had the opportunity to look over about 200 masterpieces and select one that they wanted to replicate,” says Trish Richard, the art teacher who led the project last year at St. Mary’s. “Once a masterpiece was selected they received a biography of the artist and the history of the painting, along with a contour line drawing of that particular painting. Then each artist sketched their piece of art on a 6-inch bisque ceramic tile. Then the fun started— painting! Lastly, each tile had to be fired, clear glazed and then fired again. It was a two-week process.” The tiles were a hit with members and staff alike.

Also featured in the inaugural exhibit, which was on view through the end of June, were six contemporary canvases by local artist Mary Flannery, Raw Art Works founder and owner of Great Art Studio (GAS) in Lynn. Mary and her husband Chris helped to launch the Y’s new gallery space as volunteers and members of the Y. “The new YMCA in Lynn looks like a piece of art! I was so honored to hang my recent work in the space for the big launch”, she says. “I am proud that so many people from all the different parts of Lynn come here to work out, take care of themselves and connect with people in our community. Art is another way to connect. The staff has made celebrating the work of artists part of their core values. That makes me happy.”

The inaugural exhibit featuring the tiles and Flannery’s works were on display during the Grand Opening of the new Y, which was attended by donors and local dignitaries including Governor Charlie Baker and his wife Lauren. Supported by donations and a Project Grant from the Mass Cultural Council, the Gallery has a professional-grade hanging system, and aims to provide local artists, students, and groups with opportunities to have their work be seen by thousands of people. Artists can also choose to sell their work, with a portion of the proceeds supporting the ongoing maintenance of the Gallery. Scheduled to exhibit next during July and August are artists from Northeast Arc, a Danvers- based organization that helps people with disabilities become full participants in the communities north of Boston, while also providing support for their families.

Next time you’re in the Demakes Y, stop by and see the Community Gallery for yourself!


This program is supported in part by a grant from the Mass Cultural Council, a state agency.