Ann Temkin

TORRINGTON > > Five Points Gallery hosted a curator from a world-renowned institution on Saturday evening, adding some bravado to the already anticipated soft launch of the gallery’s newly expanded space in downtown.

The special guest, Torrington native Ann Temkin, is chief curator of painting and sculpture for the Museum of Modern Art in New York. She delivered a free lecture titled “The 21st Century Artist” inside the 3,800 square-foot space on Main Street.

More than 200 guests took advantage of the opportunity to listen to Temkin’s lecture. At least 150 of those guests paid $50 for VIP access that guaranteed them a seat inside the gallery an hour before the program began. By the time the evening program commenced, it was standing room only for additional guests.

Temkin said she was happy to return to Torrington for the lecture. She will also be serving in the gallery’s board of directors.

“It’s a wide-ranging lecture,” Temkin said about her presentation. “It’s about the Museum of Modern Art a bit, and a bit about 21st century art.”

She also discussed her thoughts about what those involved in the art movement should be looking for in 21st century art during her lecture. She said the expanded gallery looked fantastic. The expansion had been announced in June.

“It’s fantastic for the artists in the area to know that there’s a place that they can see work by their peers or by themselves,” Temkin said. “When you’re an artist, you make art for yourself but you really want to make it for other people, and so you need places like this.”

Temkin’s lecture at Five Points is the first of what the gallery has dubbed the Five Points Lecture Series, which the gallery will host with the aim of expanding the public’s appreciation and understanding of contemporary art.

Having such a guest was stunning, executive director for the gallery Judith McElhon said, adding that there was originally no plan to have her talk coincide with the completion of the gallery.

“It almost came together like stars aligning, because she agreed to talk last December and all this just sort of came together,” McElhon said. “This space became available, and it was able to be finished just in time for her talk.”

The gallery adds distinction and a tremendous amount of people from outside the city in Torrington, McElhon said.

“I think it’s wonderful, not only for downtown Torrington, but for the whole region,” McElhon said.

Noted city figures like City Council member and mayoral hopeful Elinor Carbone were present at the event. Members of the art community in Torrington were also in attendance, including Nutmeg Conservatory for the Arts founder and executive director Sharon Dante, who seemed excited about the gallery and the lecture it hosted.

“Torrington is making a major effort to become an art city,” Dante said.

Janet Slom had several pieces on display on the gallery. The South African native said she specializes in mixed media, mentioning graphite and powdered pigment as material for her works.

“This is one of the most important moments for Torrington,” Slom said. “What is going on here is hard to put into words. But you can feel it.”