Morrison Gallery offers new space, plus state-of-the-art storage
By Linda Tuccio-Koonz
“I’ve just always loved art,” says Billy Morrison, longtime owner of Kent’s Morrison Gallery. “The art world is exciting. It’s fresh.”
Morrison Gallery features contemporary works from around the globe. There’s paintings, sculpture, and mesmerizing kinetic objects. “It’s great when someone gets a piece of art they really love, because it just has so much meaning,” says the entrepreneur, who is also a musician.
His latest project is a new 25,000-square-foot art storage facility and gallery space. The facility, with its state-of-the-art security and climate control, sits just behind the gallery; a breezeway connects them, making it especially convenient when rotating exhibits.
MASF (Morrison Art Storage Facility) is popular with collectors as well as artists. “The biggest thing for art storage clients is privacy,” Morrison says. Aside from total security, MASF offers private rooms clients can use for events from photo shoots to viewing parties.
“We’re excited to get back to exhibitions every four to six weeks,” Morrison says. “We’ve picked up a lot of new artists from overseas, who’ve never shown in the states before. We found a lot of great new artists during COVID, and even before COVID.”
You’ll find MASF in a contemporary building at 60 North Main St., just across from Kent’s Fife ’n Drum Restaurant. Rainscreen siding gives the hemlock-wood exterior a natural look. The north side of the structure features a smooth outdoor wall for eye-catching projection art.
Morrison had MASF built “from the ground up, with all the bells and whistles, and top-notch security.” Although it’s certainly a large, multilayered project, he says it came about quite naturally.
“It just kind of happened,” says Morrison, who’d been using another storage space before this one. “That was for my roster of artists, and we were able to keep a large inventory.” Between all the artists and art handlers he knew, word of mouth sort of took over. “That space was working so well without even trying, so we figured, let’s just go for it and build a big beautiful one, so we did.”
Morrison enjoys his role as a gallerist who keeps things fresh and fun. The new exhibit space is about 6,000 square feet with 20-foot ceilings—perfect for experiencing innovative creations. Its soaring, white walls give everything an open, airy feel, providing a modern museum-like setting for pieces of all shapes and sizes.
He especially loves that the gallery is a gathering spot—a place for people to connect. Looking ahead, he’s excited to offer a major sculpture exhibition with works outside, as well as indoors. The new gallery lends itself to that because the doors are large enough to really go big.
“I never really wanted to be an artist, but I always wanted to learn more about art history and the things people do,” says Morrison, who grew up in Danbury. “I moved my family to Kent in 1999 when I bought a small art studio. I expanded it into what is now Morrison Gallery.”
Over the years, Morrison Gallery has operated from different locations, showing works by renowned artists from the late Wolf Kahn to Ugo Rondinone and Michael Steiner, as well as the late Cleve Gray, who lived in Warren. Morrison and Gray, known for his Abstract Expressionism, were friends.
“Kent has been an art destination since the mid ’80s, with the opening of the Caboose Gallery, by Jacques Kaplan,” Morrison says. “It seems like more and more people are coming to visit, with all the B&Bs, restaurants, great shopping, and wonderful private schools. And now, with the art scene growing into surrounding towns, it’s making the art scene in Kent even stronger.”—morrisongallery.com