Littleton's Depot Art Gallery marks anniversary with online exhibition

Event is not part of festival this year

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Artists at Depot Art Gallery in Littleton are celebrating a 58th anniversary without the usual happy, crowded opening reception, which, at this time of year is ordinarily part of Western Welcome Week.

For this summer, the little red gallery will forgo its usual WWW show at its Powers Avenue home and run a collection of works by members online. From current wording on the website at depotartgallery.org, we gather that the gallery will not reopen until 2021.

We look forward to re-entering this local historic gem, which was the railroad station built in 1888 for the Atchison, Topeka and Santa Fe Railway. (Not to be confused with the historic stone and wood depot that serves as the Downtown Littleton Light Rail Station, after once serving the Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.)

Both were busy establishments, transferring milk cans for many area dairy farms into Denver creameries daily, as well as other freight and a number of commuters. The commuters are clearly still with us, but dairy cows, not so much!

There were also creameries in Littleton — dairy farming was a big business in Arapahoe and Douglas counties. Former Littleton Independent publisher Ed Bemis worked in Littleton creameries as a young man and lived on a farm south of the old county courthouse, which is now Littleton’s Municipal Court.

Also on the Depot grounds is an 1880s caboose, which serves as an additional gallery. It was donated by a previous member.

The Littleton Fine Arts Guild was founded in 1962 by 10 women who loved to paint. It first met in the Grange Hall that stood at the corner of Orchard Road and University Boulevard and members kept an eye out for a more permanent location.

In 1976, the nation celebrated its Bicentennial, and some history-related grant money, plus donations by local supporters, was obtained to move and renovate the building with elbow grease and affection. It had stood unused in Bega Park. Local supporter and sculptor Varian Ashbaugh moved the building to its present location and LFAG members went to work, aided by their families in many cases, scrubbing and painting, and waxing, plus installing wiring and plumbing.

Described as “a wooden frame, vernacular building, ‘Railroad Style,’ with wood board and batten structure,” the building opened in 1978, ready to exhibit works by guild members and other artists. It is a designated historic site.

The gabled roof and overhanging eves sheltered passengers from rain and snow. Most windows are original, according to the guild’s website — an important feature to historic preservationists.

The guild now numbers about 60 and includes photographers as well as painters and a few sculptors — and new members are welcomed. See information on the website at depotartgallery.org. In a normal year, members would hang new exhibits every month or two, in a calendar with themes announced each year. Most exhibits are juried by a visiting area arts professional.

Enjoy the online 58th Anniversary Exhibit by Littleton Fine Arts members and celebrate the historic buildings, which would have many stories to tell if they could speak! To view, go to depotartgallery.org.

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