Art in 2006 in southern New Hampshire
New galleries open; museum closed for renovation
By Heidi Masek firstname.lastname@example.org
For what it’s worth, this reporter got word from transplanted Albany artists that Nashua does indeed have a more thriving art scene than the capitol of New York State. For artists in 2006, new opportunities opened up as new galleries opened and other spaces decided to devote wall space to art exhibits. Southern New Hampshire towns are getting mighty good at integrating the studio art scene with performing arts and local business. However, the major exhibition venue is currently closed—for expansion, fortunately.
Closed for renovation
The Currier Museum of Art closed in late June so that collections and visitors wouldn’t be affected by the construction expected to go on for 18 months. The Manchester museum, which opened in 1929, is expanding its exhibition halls, adding a café and courtyard, classrooms, office space and auditorium. The $20 million project will add 30,000 square feet of space, allowing the museum to display more of its collection. It had been able to show about 5 to 7 percent of holdings—less when large exhibits were visiting the Currier, said Susan Strickler, director of the Currier. There was also the problem of school tours literally running into each other in the small building. The two new classrooms will each accommodate a bus load.
To make up for its absence the Currier has been increasing outreach activities. “Currier Downtown,” a storefront on Hanover Street in Manchester, houses the museum shop, member services, family activities and art lectures. It’s also the meeting place for tours of the Frank Lloyd Wright-designed home the Currier maintains. The “Currier on the Move” program dispatches Currier staff to present age-appropriate art lectures at schools and community groups. The Currier Art Center is still open and is increasing art class options to better serve the community.
On their own
While the big repository for works by famous European and American artists is in shutdown mode, New Hampshire artists are striking out on their own.
Tom Devaney has opened T. Devaney Fine Arts in downtown Concord. The working artist had gallery space in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts before moving to New Hampshire with his wife and children. His projects include large-scale kinetic sculptures, commercial commissions, sculptures of recycled items and two-dimensional contemporary work. He admires Picasso, George Ricky and Hieronymus Bosch. Devaney displays his work and works on pieces in the space. He has also featured work by other artists, including sculptures by Christopher Saucedo.
Dennis Sheehan, professional painter, had studio space in Langer Place, Manchester, for years, but decided to expand with his own gallery space there in June, to have a space where he could avoid paying gallery commission fees.
The Black Brook Gallery opened in Goffstown. Sculptor Dennis Rechcygl and multimedia artist Pat LaBrecque were about to move to a Lowell, Mass., loft, when a deal fell through. With their Goffstown hillside home mostly emptied, they decided to turn the place into a gallery, inviting other local artists to show work and waiving commission for those who volunteered to staff the place. LaBreque is planning to offer plein air painting days. Artists will be able to use the mountain views and visitors can watch artists.
Robin Frisella has been active in the Manchester arts community, chairing the Manchester Artists Association and selling work through East Colony Fine Art at Langer Place. She was also MAA’s artist of the year this year, and belongs to Nashua Artists Association and Sharon Arts Center. Now, Frisella, who works primarily in pastel, is opening her own shop. The December inaugural show at Frisella Fine Art Studio, 26 Old Manchester Road, Candia, featured art from Robin and Tiffani Frisella, Doreen Boissonneault and Randy Knowles.
Anderson-Soule Gallery in Concord now runs a satellite, “The Gallery at 2 Pillsbury” at the former Blues Cross Blue Shield building, which was reopened for office space in November. Anderson-Soule artists will be exhibited in the entryway of the redesigned building.
Art is being integrated into other businesses in New Hampshire towns. The Wine Studio in Manchester opened in July and rotates monthly exhibits by local artists. On a larger scale, veteran Manchester corporate consultants Art 3 Gallery helped the Roedel Company place and commission work in the new Hilton Garden Inn near Fisher Cats stadium.
Theaters discovered they can make money off lobby wall space. Majestic Theatre in Manchester now shows two-dimensional work. The set-up guarantees that at least ticket holders view work. The Majestic takes a 10 percent commission, a creative way to increase revenue in the theater industry. Althea Haropulos, Karen Bessette and Andrew Mertinooke have shown there. The Stockbridge Theatre at Pinkerton Academy in Derry has showcased Heidi Lorenz, Rick Freed and Michael Roundy in its new lobby gallery.
The May floods did major damage to the Hargate art center at St. Paul School in Concord. Students were sent home two weeks early from the boarding school when Turkey Pond overflowed onto campus. The center has since been redesigned and renovated.
Studio art in southern New Hampshire maintained strides to coordinate their efforts this year, with outreach, open studios and cooperation with businesses and performing art.
Only a year and a half old, the Monastery Arts Collective has done an admirable job of offering regular evening interactive art events this year. Guests and artists created music, noise, art and poetry together in their Jam series. Patrons were encouraged to come in wearable art for some happenings. The gallery space at 21 W. Auburn St. in Manchester also presented exploratory sound artists such as Mitchel Ahern and his reclaimed handmade instruments, and Crank Sturgeon, who uses modified storage containers and rewired electronics. The group hosted music performance such as Fetish Chicken.
Art Concord, which started at the end of 2005, ArtWalk Nashua and Manchester’s Open Doors trolley tour kept up efforts to get the public and artists together this year and draw foot traffic to downtowns. About ten independent and academic galleries in Concord hold show openings a few times a year on the same Friday evening. Since many are downtown, it’s walkable. ArtWalk Nashua, which happens four times a year, now includes about 22 venues and galleries. People can often see art demonstrations or tour working studios. ArtWalk occurs for about six hours on a Saturday, which makes it more convenient and leisurely than the weeknight evening art tours of Concord and Manchester. The free Open Doors trolley tour runs four times a year on Thursday evenings. All of these usually mean a free, fun activity—and often free wine and cheese.
Bel Esprit was supposed to be a cultural celebration for Manchester, merging the Mill City Festival (formerly Riverfest) with the Manchester Art Association’s annual outdoor art show. However, NHIA and the Mill City Festival were double booked accidentally at Victory Park, and both had to compromise. Hopefully that September weekend will run more smoothly in 2007.