A Gallery with Grit

An Iraq War veteran creates a haven for South Shore artists

By Brianna Winters

Peering through the windows of True Grit Art Gallery in Middleborough, you will spy oil paintings of urban and “blue-collar” scenes hanging among delicate pastel landscapes. Gallery owners Peter and Jenn Damon embody the “true grit” work ethic reflected in the name of their business.

Gallery owners Jenn and Peter Damon

Peter always had a passion for art, but sustained severe injuries to both of his arms while serving as a helicopter mechanic in Iraq in 2003. Afterwards, he channeled his creativity into a mode of occupational therapy. “It was a creative outlet for my emotions as well,” says Peter.

Opening a gallery space to share his passion for art with others seemed like the next natural step. The Damons’ first gallery venture was forced to close after the economic recession of 2008. But two years ago, the couple decided to try again and opened True Grit Art Gallery in November 2015.

The gallery now represents about 25 local and regional painters, photographers, and sculptors. “Our artists are all uniquely talented and they all share our vision,” Jenn says.

An exhibit this past August titled “Post-Industrial Impressions: Reflections of the Industrial Age in New England” was extremely well-received. Peter, along with one of the gallery’s artists, Randy Swann, created a series of architectural paintings depicting the region’s characteristic three-level houses. “These houses have come to be synonymous with the massive Industrial Revolution in these small towns. They’re full of history. They’re landmarks of the area,” says Peter.

Randy Swann, “At Dusk”

Swann has exhibited his work at the gallery ever since it opened. His artwork captures the urban landscapes of the South Shore. “When you’re located outside of a big city it’s hard to find people with the same interests. But Peter and I connected right away because our styles and subjects are so similar,” says Swann. The show also caught the attention of artist James Reynolds. Normally a colorful, plein-air painter, Reynolds used a monochromatic palette and a partially subtractive approach to capture the hard and soft edges of industrial South Shore buildings for the show.

Not all the art is rough around the edges. Diane Reed Sawyer, a signature member of the Pastel Society of Cape Cod, has been exhibiting her work at True Grit since April. “The post-Industrial subject isn’t my style of art, but Peter and Jenn make sure the gallery is welcoming to all kinds of artists and customers,” says Sawyer, who is working on a series of landscapes exploring the South Shore’s powerful connection to water. She plans to participate in the gallery’s upcoming November exhibit, “Nocturnes.”

The Damons are on a mission to promote local artists and expose more people in the region to fine art. “It takes grit and determination to be an artist, to succeed in anything you do,” says Peter.

James Reynolds, “Rock Harbor Creek”

True Grit Art Gallery’s upcoming exhibit, “Nocturnes,” will open on November 18 and run through December 14. The exhibit will focus on artwork and photographic scenes of darkness, including moonlit landscapes, candlelight, streetlights and other night scenes.

“When I think of night scenes, I think of the way light is portrayed. The harvest moon comes to mind,” says Peter Damon. “We thought the holidays would be a perfect time to showcase the mystical beauty of night.”



When: Saturday, November 18-Thursday, December 14

**Opening reception: Saturday, November 18, 6-9 p.m.


Gallery hours:

Tuesday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.
Wednesday-Friday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m.-3 p.m.
Closed Sundays and Mondays


38 Center Street, Middleborough


    774-419-4160; truegritartgallery.com


Diane Reed Sawyer, “Purple Shadows Sandy Neck”

Diane Reed Sawyer “Rainy Night, Zakim Bridge”

James Reynolds, “Welfleet Cottages”

Diane Reed Sawyer, “ Red Sky At Night”

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