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New art and community space created in Bristol

BRISTOL — The thriving Main Street arts scene that Bristol’s residents and visitors have enjoyed for years is expanding this summer onto South Street. Five area artists have established a new creative and community arts space at 6 South St., which they have named ARTSight.
“Bristol is amazing,” said artist Lily Hinrichsen. “I am always surprised at all of these artists and musicians and creative people. They’re kind of out there (in the community) and suddenly they come out of the woodwork and it’s like, ‘Oh, there are so many of us!’”
ARTSight will be home to the workspaces of artists Karla Van Vliet, Lily Hinrichsen, Rachel Baird and Katie Grauer, along with writer Basha Miles, who have already begun the building’s transformation into a professional studio space, art gallery, and community events area.
On a recent tour of the space, Hinrichsen said that she and Van Vliet had been looking for a large space to host a creative community hub for some time.
“Karla and I were both coming into this with very parallel visions of a creative community,” Hinrichsen said. “I lived up at the Vermont Studio Center in Johnson for four years, and it’s a dream place for an artist or creative person because you’re surrounded by these creative thinkers, yet you also have your own personal space.”
That was precisely the vision that the pair of friends wanted to bring to Bristol.
“After we decided we loved (6 South St.) we just started inviting all of our creative friends,” Hinrichsen said.
Baird, Grauer and Miles came on board, and the artists moved into the building over the past several months, and have already begun leaving their mark on the historic building. Paintings and mixed media pieces adorn the staircase and hallways, and a gallery space in the front room has been filled with the artists’ work.
 “It has a long history, and everybody who walks in here has a story about what each room used to be,” Hinrichsen said. “So that has been a lot of fun.”
And the structure itself is something of a blank canvas, as its landlords have been enthusiastic about the artists transforming the space.
“I see so much potential,” Hinrichsen said. “There is nothing precious, which is like a dream come true.”
The artists anticipate the gallery will always be open to the public, so that anyone can drop in on a whim. The group plans to have community events every other Tuesday; the sprawling side porch and garden will accommodate live music and readings. The goal, Hinrichsen said, is to provide a physical space for the burgeoning creative community to gather and share ideas.
In the future, the group hopes to offer an educational component, such as lectures by visiting artists or perhaps courses, to further expand access and exposure to arts-based learning in Bristol and the surrounding communities.
ARTSight will make its community debut with an open studio event on Tuesday, July 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. The public is invited to view the studios and gallery, meet the artists and hear about upcoming readings, events and workshops.
“We want to bring people in,” Hinrichsen said simply. “(Everyone) can just know that on Tuesday nights there will be free readings or live music, or just come to hang out with creative people.”

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