Art therapist opens new community art gallery in downtown Presque Isle
PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — On May 1, Shelby Pelletier opened The Common Gallery on Main Street in hopes of making unique contributions to the local art scene and to the city’s downtown revitalization efforts.
Pelletier, who also lives in Presque Isle, is an artist and art therapist and operates her practice in the same building where The Common Gallery is now located at 422 Main Street. Art therapists are mental health professionals who use art and the creative process to help clients explore their feelings and improve their sense of well-being, according to the American Art Therapy Association.
Pelletier has always thought about opening a gallery and sees her new venture as a way to help strengthen the arts community.
“People don’t always realize how many artists, crafters and artisans there are around here,” Pelletier said. “I’m also a supporter of growing the community in Presque Isle and ever since I moved back I’ve wanted to open a gallery that supports the arts and downtown revitalization.”
The Common Gallery recently featured watercolor artist Jacky Poulin and will showcase Presque Isle-based artist Jasmyn Shaw in June. Pelletier plans to hold exhibit openings for each artist during the monthly First Friday Downtown Art Walks, with Shaw’s show debuting on Friday, June 7.
Pelletier also wants to host interactive art events that will be open to all community members who would like to take part. During the June First Friday Walk she will host a Pottery Slam, an interactive event in which folks can try making pottery.
“If the opportunity presents itself, I would also like to offer art classes and workshops,” Pelletier said. “I want this to be a community space where people can come be creative themselves or just be around local art.”
For the past year, Pelletier and her husband Chris have also been printing and distributing The Aroostook Common, a free event listing, where The Common Gallery gets its name. She said she is passionate about making people aware of the fun, exciting events that happen regularly in Aroostook County and hopes her gallery will play a role in getting people to explore downtown Presque Isle.
“I love Aroostook County and I don’t consider what I do with The Aroostook Common or the gallery to be a ‘job,’” Pelletier said. “It’s something that I can do to contribute to the community.”
The Common Gallery is typically open by appointment and during the First Friday Downtown Art Walk from 6 to 8 p.m. on the first Friday of every month. For more information, visit The Common Gallery on Facebook.