September 7, 2006

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Nashua Publisher's Note: Fine art and Popeye
By Jeff Rapsis

This week’s Hippo brings you a round-up of all things cultural this fall in Nashua and the region. I hope you’ll find it interesting and informative, but most of all I hope you’ll find it useful.

By that, I mean I hope it inspires you to get off your duff, turn off the TV and actually check out some of the cultural things going on in the area in the next few months.

And by cultural, I don’t just mean touring the Stonyfield Farms yogurt plant in Londonderry, although that’s not a bad thing.

What I really mean is that no longer do you have to drive to Boston for worthwhile cultural events. Nashua and the rest of our patch of southern New Hampshire has grown up quite a bit in the past few years, to the point where there’s really no reason to go to Boston unless you’re interested in one-of-a-kind attractions such as the Museum of Fine Arts or the falling ceilings in the Big Dig tunnels.

This week’s Hippo gives you a good road map to cultural events closer to home, and by that I mean in Nashua and in nearby cities of Manchester and Concord. (And I’ll stop saying “I really mean” now. I really mean that.)

And then there’s Lowell, Mass., which to many people in Nashua may as well be another planet. But take away the “it’s in Massachusetts” factor, and you’ll find a very interesting city just a short drive down Route 3 from Nashua.

Actually, Lowell’s thriving visual arts community is a good model for Nashua to follow in efforts to get our own city’s art scene revved up, especially with our next Art Walk coming up on Saturday, Sept. 16. If you’d like to check out Lowell’s art scene, there’s a great chance to do so this weekend.

On Saturday, Sept. 8 at 7 p.m., the premiere of a new documentary film about Lowell’s Western Avenue Studios artists’ colony will take place at the Revolving Museum. The museum, located at the corner of Shattuck and Middle streets in the city’s downtown, is an attraction in itself.

The film, made by artist Donna Beales, focuses on 15 of the 75 working artists at the colony, which opened last year in a converted Lowell mill building.

I was surprised to see that the list of artists includes a guy I once worked with, Gary Destramp, who was a staff artist at the Telegraph when I worked in the paper’s ad department.

We had a lot of fun then — I recall one time he had to draw a crowd of people for some kind of downtown Nashua advertising promotion, and in the background he slyly tucked a guy throwing up into a barrel. Maybe this is why we both no longer work at the Telegraph.

I may not have matured much since then, but Gary, like the area’s cultural scene, has certainly grown as an artist. Today, he’s currently concentrating on stylized drawings of scenes of Lowell, his family’s hometown.

Gary’s talents extend in other directions as well. He does the best Popeye imitation of anyone I know.

I’m not sure if the new documentary will capture Gary doing Popeye, but it sounds worth checking out. The screening starts at 7 p.m.; a donation of $10 is requested to help support the effort.

And I mean that.


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