March 22, 2007


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Compassionate cause
“Bringing Home the Arts” event benefits
By Heidi Masek

In just a few years this fundraiser has grown from an auction of prints and art posters to a month-long event featuring original work by widely known artists of the Souhegan Valley.

The April 14 “Bringing the Arts Home” art auction is part of the Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce effort to move from an entity solely for business networking to one focused on community resources, said May Balsama, executive director. Part of the proceeds will go to Souhegan Home & Hospice Care.

The event also gives people a chance to meet some of their neighbors who happen to be nationally or internationally known artists. For example, Sylvia Nicolas of Mont Vernon is a fourth-generation stained glass artist whose family has worked on windows all over Europe.

Some artists are participating because they have a connection with Souhegan Home & Hospice Care. Hospice played a role in the life of Beth Whelton of Wilton and her family twice. It helped her parents care for her brother 18 years ago. The opera singer and actor had been exposed to AIDS before the virus was understood. Later, Hospice helped care for her mother, Lillian Whelton, of Hollis, when she was diagnosed with brain cancer. She died in 1999 at home.

“The experience of compassion that Hospice brought into our household has given each of us something special to take out into the world,” Beth Whelton said. Her sister Sarah Buckley is also involved. Some of the works available will be displayed at restaurants she owns with her husband Michael Buckley, of Michael Timothy’s and Surf restaurants in Nashua and Buckley’s Great Steaks in Merrimack.

Other businesses are displaying art to promote the auction, including Hampshire First, First Colebrook Bank, Ocean National Bank, Lake Sunapee Bank, Frederick’s Pastries and the PSNH Energy Park. The pieces will move to Daniel Webster College’s new Collings Auditorium April 10. Preview the art from 5 to 7:30 p.m. when silent bidding starts. The event culminates with a live auction and gala reception April 14 at Collings. It includes some sports memorabilia to as an alternative for non-art-collecting guests.

The auction kicked off with a preview March 8 in the new atrium of St. Joseph’s Hospital, which Hospice is associated with.

At last count, 175 works have been submitted, featuring 64 at live auction. Items include sterling and topaz jewelry, oils, watercolors, a hand-painted goose egg, and sculpture, Balsama said. The pieces range from impressionist and contemporary to still life, landscapes and seascapes.

A solid business community is necessary to support a solid nonprofit community, Balsama said of the Chamber’s efforts. The auction is also a good tool for artists. The artist can set a limit of the lowest they can afford to take for a piece. The event offers a generous split of auction profit to the artists, Balsama said, but some donate work outright.

“This is my way of giving to the community,” oil painter Monique Sakellarios said. The auction will be well-promoted and it’s an excellent group of artists to be counted among, she said. “Also, for people who can’t afford to pay the full price, it’s a great way of building an art collection.” Sakellarious owns the Nashua gallery “Maison de l’Art.”

Balsama said the Chamber hopes to double their 2006 donation to Souhegan Home & Hospice of $2,000 this year. The Chamber uses some of the proceeds to continue community programs including a career and business expo to which they invite high school students, and a high school golf tournament. This year, art teachers were asked to select one or two students from each area school to participate in the auction.

Buy tickets to the gala and live auction for $25 in advance or $35 at the door. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for art viewing and noshing. The live auction starts at 8 p.m. Buy tickets at Toadstool Bookshops, St. Joseph Hospital, Expressions Gallery, studio k graphics, Frederick’s Pastries, the Jaffrey Civic Center or First Colebrook Bank, or call the SVCC at 673-4360.

Chelsea Demers of Wilton-Lyndeborough Cooperative High School was selected to show work alongside professional artists’ in the “Bringing the Arts Home” auction in April. Demers’ grandmother was aided at the end of her life by home health nursing and hospice care. Karen La Mesa photo..

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