Spring 2024

Celebrating 65 Years

Ardith Racey

Celebrating 65 Years

Celebrating 65 Years 


The Belleville Art Association (BAA) celebrated 65 years of ‘longevity’ in 2023, and according to Dona Knudsen, what makes it still viable is that “everyone is a volunteer working to create a community of artists.” Located at 208 Front Street in Belleville, the gallery has a goal of selling members’ work; however, it’s more about the education and community and less about the commercial push. “The association opened its first physical gallery in 2005, so it’s quite amazing that we’ve been a gallery for 19 years,” says Knudsen, a contributing member. 


What’s truly unique about the BAA is that it’s an unjuried gallery. Members pay a small annual fee and are encouraged to submit new original works on a rotational basis. Member Nancy Sherk says that they “currently have about 60 contributing artists and a dozen artisans out of roughly 140 members. Every second Tuesday of the month, there’s a new show. A team of volunteers install the works and try to make the pieces fit together so it’s like looking at a larger painting.” In addition to paintings in various media, the gallery exhibits photography, pottery, jewelry, miniatures, and other artisanal pieces.


In keeping with education and community, the association hosted 15 artist led workshops last year, and those workshops will continue in 2024. There are studio groups and painting bubbles (a term coined during the pandemic) which meet every week. The gallery space is light and filled with a quiet energy that emanates from the balanced, thoughtful hanging of local art from both new and professional artists. “The willingness of artists to mentor emerging artists and share resources and ideas is a major factor in the group’s success,” says Sherk. 


Art Walks, which began in the early 2000’s, are a great opportunity to explore the downtown Gallery District by visiting the BAA, Quinte Arts Council (QAC), Gallery 121 and the John M. Parrott Art Gallery, located on the third floor of the Belleville Public Library. The four galleries are within walking distance to each other and each is unique with its own history and vibe. This year, the BAA will host the 57th annual juried show “Perspectives” at the Parrott Gallery.

“Several other artists’ groups have formed in the area out of the idea of supporting artists and having members work together. There’s a camaraderie that reaches beyond painting at the gallery. Small groups paint together on a regular basis sharing ideas and skills which has allowed the association to evolve” says Sherk.

Both Sherk and Knudsen are passionate about the BAA and its dedication to art and artists, driven by their desire to enable anyone to showcase their creative work. Throughout the decades, the association has garnered its support and passion from encouraging ordinary people to put their best work out for others to see. “The association began as a group of mostly women – primarily housewives in the 1950’s – who were dynamite ladies – powerhouses. One of the original contributing members, Joan Reive, used to tell the story that when her kids went down for a nap, she would get her paints out.” says Knudsen. 

The association has several sponsored locations where they hang artists’ work. Currently, about 350 pieces hang in various venues such as: The Anchorage, Highland Shores Childrens’ Aid, the Belleville Police Station, Sans Souci, Belleville General Hospital and commercial offices. 

The downtown gallery is an exceptional venue, open five days a week, solely thanks to the dedication of its volunteers. Whether you’re a professional artist, emerging talent, or simply a lover of the arts, we invite you to drop in and explore what the BAA has to offer.


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