Pointing in the Right Direction At Five Points Gallery

Hartford Magazine/Hartford Courant

Torrington is experiencing a renaissance as its downtown revitalizes. Starting with the restoration of the historic Warner Theatre, the city has committed to transforming from its industrial past with ambitious plans to be an arts destination.

Leading the charge is Five Points Gallery. Started as Artspace Torrington in 2011, Five Points Gallery found a permanent home in 2012 on the corner of Water and Main streets in a space filled by light through floor-to-ceiling windows.

Gallery director Judy McElhone recounts the story: the former pharmacy owned by Torrington Downtown Partners — three businessmen promoting the resurgence — was offered free of rent and utilities for one year. “The partners have supported Five Points from day one and recognize what we’re bringing,” says McElhone. A cadre of dedicated, hardworking volunteers operates the gallery, including McElhone and manager Noel Croce.

The arts can be economically potent, notes McElhone. Within the first year, the gallery expanded, doubling its size. “We are adding to the cultural vitality of this city,” she declares. New restaurants and stores are beginning to open. “People honk; they are so excited to see us,” says McElhone, “and time and again tell us, ‘You’ve given us a reason to stop.’ ” One sign of the accretive effect: a new, private gallery will open next door this summer.

Five Points Gallery has exhibited the work of 70 artists since opening.

“The artists are fabulous,” says McElhone. “We have the consistently high-quality art that you see in bigger cities.”

One example is Joe Fig, whose miniatures of other artists’ studios astound with intricate detail. Initially reluctant to embrace an untested gallery, Fig says he watched its two-year progression with respect. “It’s quality all the way, from the exhibition cards to the opening receptions to the beautiful renovations.” Recently, Fig and his University of Hartford colleague Power Booth showed jointly at Five Points Gallery to rave reviews.

“Judy is on the hunt for quality, and she wants to be surprised. It is such an interesting combination: every show has remarkable quality, while also being unpredictable,” Booth said.