HALLOWELL — After celebrating its 50th anniversary last month, a downtown art gallery got a donation that will give its leader a full-time job.

The Harlow Gallery, a nonprofit entity founded in 1963, was given stock valued at $30,000 by Brooks Harlow Jr., a regular donor who is the nephew of Genevieve Harlow Goodwin, who gave the initial $6,000 donation to buy the gallery’s Water Street building. For years, the gallery has played host to workshops and exhibitions featuring local artists.

Because of Harlow’s donation, Deborah Fahy, the gallery’s part-time executive director since 2004, will be full-time starting in 2014. She said her main goal will be to focus on fundraising. Since she took over, she said, the gallery’s annual budget has moved from about $30,000 to almost $100,000, with a focus on improving donor relations and attracting new members.

“The types of shows we’re doing are much more varied, and we’re trying to do shows that appeal to different audiences,” she said.

Fahy said probably thousands of Maine artists have passed through her gallery over the years. Darrell Bulmer, assistant director of the Maine Arts Commission, said in an email that the Harlow Gallery and other longtime nonprofit galleries in Maine serve as “a focal point for community interaction.” Other examples are the Center for Maine Contemporary Art in Rockport and the Barn Gallery in Ogunquit, he said.

Harlow has long been in the middle of Hallowell’s arts economy, rich in the city, which supports SpinOff Studio, Gaslight Theater and many local musicians, artists and photographers.

Janet Merrill, owner of Reappearances, a downtown store selling accessories, clothing and textiles, said her store, which has been open for 17 years, feeds off of other arts-related businesses, such as the Harlow. The gallery is helped by them, too.

“It all works together,” Merrill said.

The gallery also has gained a positive statewide profile, if Daniel Kany, an art historian who reviews art for the Maine Sunday Telegram, a partner paper of the Kennebec Journal, is any indication. The Waterville native, now of Cumberland, said the Harlow has long been one of his favorite art galleries for its approachability and variety, saying it represents many types of art well, including painting, sculpture, photography and performance.

He has been attending the gallery since he was a child, but said it has gotten better under Fahy and other leaders, who have been “driven by the interests and energies of their community.”

“It does have a local scope, but it’s one of the arts groups that deserves more statewide recognition. At the same time, it hasn’t overmarketed itself,” Kany said. “They’re not too big for their breeches, and their breeches aren’t too big for them.”

Michael Shepherd — 370-7652 [email protected]

Twitter: @mikeshepherdme@mikeshepherdme

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