Both a tourist spot and a respite from Madison's increasingly bland suburban periphery, tiny Paoli continues to expand its artistic offerings. In May, the Paoli House Gallery joined furniture maker Richard Judd's Zazen Gallery and the 20-year-old Artisan Gallery in the town's quaint core.
Paoli House Gallery is situated in a refurbished two-story hotel that once served customers of Paoli's landmark limestone grist mill (both buildings were restored by local light Bill Hastings), and it's very much a family affair. Staffed by Madison physician Michael Thom, his physician assistant wife, Beverly, and her son Christian Andrew Grooms, it serves as a showcase for Grooms' contemporary paintings and mixed-media pieces.
The gallery's debut show in May featured work by Grooms and prominent local artists Warrington Colescott, Sally Hutchison and Frances Myers. Despite the rural locale, it was a great success. "We had about 400 people for the opening," Beverly Thom says. "It was a wonderful evening in terms of response, and we did sell some things, too." She adds that thus far sales have covered the gallery's expenses.
Grooms splits his time between Madison and New York, where he settled after earning an MFA from the Parsons School of Design. But Thom expects him to be a greater presence at the gallery as time goes on, staffing many of the opening hours, working in his studio on the building's second floor, and securing artists for upcoming shows.
Indeed, the gallery's next new show, October's "Big Apple Meets the Mini Apple," is very much Grooms' creation. Along with his own work, it will include pieces by Vicente Caro, Scott Davidson and Joseph Pfeifer, artists he became acquainted with during time spent in both Minneapolis and New York.