PITMAN, N.J. — Among the din of the crowd mulling about the ornate or folk-crafted vases, bowls, jars, and other artisan creations at the opening night of the exhibit, The Potters at WeatonArts, Tina Magonagle stands behind a counter that offers attendees a variety of cheeses and wines while talking to patrons who happened by.
Magonagle, along with her husband Albert Magonagle, is co-founder of the Pitman Gallery and Art Center (PGAC) in the heart of the downtown business district of Pitman.
PGAC hosts new exhibits once a month, and usually have an opening on the first Friday of the month which are free and open to the public. Most recently, besides The Potters at WeatonArts exhibit, the gallery has hosted exhibits such as Mystical and Metal Creations — which featured the works of local artists Leigh Minhart who is a painter and John Damiani who is a sculptor working with steel — and David Graeber Art Glass — which featured Graeber’s nature-in-glass creations.
Started three years ago by the husband and wife team who met in art school, the gallery is a nonprofit organization in order to create a place for art and community. According to their website, the gallery’s mission is to cultivate the power of the arts — inspiring individuals and strengthening the community alike.”
“It’s not about profit,” Magonagle said. “We want to promote artists and creativity and talent. We wanted to create a space for art but also a meeting place and a place for events.”
Funding for the gallery comes mostly from donations and art sales. “We’ve had a lot of volunteers played a part of the business,” Magonagle said. “They have donated time and money or they have donated supplies. A local electrician donated his services.”
The gallery offers membership subscriptions for supporters. “We have over 50 artist members who are writers, painters, artists of all kinds,” Magonagle said.
They also rent out space for parties and meetings. The Pitman Chamber of Commerce also rents out a corner of the gallery to promote all of the businesses in town.
“We’ve gotten better at fundraising events,” Magonagle said. PGAC has had events such as performances by singer-songwriters Christian Lopez and Jim Borggia as well as a very popular New Year’s Gala.
Magnonagle said they recently applied for a grant for a “Makerspace” for the town. “MakerSpace” is a workspace for collaborative creation using high tech tools such as 3D printers and laser cutters or low tech tools such as cardboard and Legos. “Makerspace” also provides hands-on learning, helps with critical thinking skills, boosts self-confidence, and “helps to prepare those who need the critical 21st century skills in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM),” according to the Makerspace website.
Building up the gallery, Magonagle said, has been a progression. “I wanted to do an exhibit, an art stroll where we’d put up posters of art on storefront windows. However, business owners didn’t like the idea of posters in their windows blocking views from the sidewalk, so we worked with the borough and put them up on lamp posts.”
The tradition of the art stroll continues tonight, Friday, September 6, with the opening reception of the Fourth Annual Art Stroll from 6:00 P.M. until 9:00 P.M. The outdoor exhibit will display the works of 30 local and regional artists featured on posters hung on the lamp posts on Broadway between Laurel and Holly Avenues. The exhibit runs through October 30.
The Pitman Gallery and Art Center is located at 59 S. Broadway, Pitman. For more information or to become a supporter/member, visit their website at https://www.pitmanartcenter.org/.
“We welcome more people to get involved,” Magnonagle said. “The more we grow can only benefit everybody.”