by ANNA GROOVER
David and Martha Moore say they do not have time for stuffy, pretentious art spaces. Once, while in Seattle, they visited an art gallery with a plastic model of a massive, red T. rex on display. David recalls his disappointment seeing a “Don’t Touch” sign juxtaposed with several children running around the model, dying to play with it. “Plastic dinosaurs are meant to be played with,” he says. “How do you not touch a huge, plastic dinosaur?”
Thanks to its new nonprofit status, Pictura Gallery embodies this sensibility. Pictura, the Moores’ contemporary, fine art photography gallery, had been a staple on the downtown Square for a decade when the Moores moved it to their new community arts space—the FAR Center for Contemporary Arts—which opened last year.
Pictura’s physical move to the FAR Center, at the corner of West 4th and South Rogers streets, accompanied a shift in its purpose when the Moores decided they wanted to expand their opportunities for education. “By making Pictura a not-for-profit, we can offer things that we couldn’t afford to offer before because we can apply for grants,” Martha says. In its new location, Pictura strives to engage the community by continuing to provide free public gallery hours and participating in Bloomington’s First Friday Gallery Walk.
For-profit events like weddings take place in the FAR Center, helping sustain the nonprofit activities of Pictura, like arts education workshops. This business model is novel but not unprecedented, the Moores say. They’ve taken inspiration from similar arts centers with a goal of being culturally relevant and economically self-sustaining.
Accessibility is at the heart of Pictura’s mission. “I grew up in a home where art was part of daily life, and discovered as an adult that many people did not share in that experience,” Martha says. “My goal in starting Pictura was to create a space with no barriers where anyone could appreciate art.”
The week prior to this interview, children and teenagers from the Boys & Girls Clubs of Bloomington visited and created cyanotype sun prints. While the children took their art with them, Polaroids from the event are strung along the gallery windows—a reminder of a past event that offers a foundation for Pictura to build on in the future.
For more information, visit picturagallery.com and thefar.org.