Our 50 Year History
…"art is an experience that brings people together"…
Eleanor Grace Martin
1914 - 2006
From 1959 to 1967, Eleanor Martin and a few dedicated "artistic" friends spent many Saturdays and evenings painting together and learning together. The group usually met at the Martin's house. The decision to show their work in a Gallery setting coincided with the availability of a business space in one of the original "downtown" buildings, including Caton's Five and Dime, which stood where the Arlington public library now stands. Eleanor's son Mac and his friend Don Mebus were headquartered in the space, operating a recording studio and music business.
Mac suggested that Mom take-over the upstairs space just above the Martin/Mebus Recording Studio and show some of the art work that was taking over the Martin's den at home. No doubt, James Martin, Arlington Schools Superintendant - endorsed the idea.
Thus, in 1968, the Upstairs Gallery had its first public show. This original group of painters including Eleanor Martin, Al Brouillette, Jane Jacobs, Steve Rascoe, Virginia Cobb, Sandy Rabitt, Larry Harris and others helped establish the Gallery's reputation as a place for artists to gather and exhibit their work.
Less than a year later, the city announced plans for the new library and the Martins made the decision to relocate to a quaint house on Abram Street. The Upstairs Gallery soon became a family affair, with James Martin, adding encouragement, wit and good will, helping to hang art and electing to make the Gallery the work of his retirement years. There, she introduced thousands of Arlington patrons to fine art through Art Openings and through classes.
James Martin passed away December 6, 1997. Mrs. Martin and her family continued operating the gallery. On April 2, 2006 - Eleanor Grace Martin passed away at her home. She left a legacy of leading people to a greater enjoyment of art. She saw beauty in everything and everyone. Life was an adventure and a joy to her. She was 91. A priority of the gallery that continues today are the workshops and classes.
Eleanor Martin has always felt it was important to encourage new artists. Offering classes puts new artists and emerging artists together in a setting where both can learn. The Martin family, J.T., Martha Sue and Mac, continue to find a sense of joy in what the Upstairs Gallery represents - a place where artists can gather and visitors to the gallery can experience the joy of art.