Changes in the arts in 2007
It’s big, it’s orange, it’s steel
By Heidi Masek email@example.com
The Currier Museum of Art managed to keep itself visible, although the Manchester museum was closed for expansion in 2007, especially when it unveiled the contemporary sculpture that will grace the center of the new outdoor entrance plaza. “Origins” is 35 feet tall, orange, and involves I-beams.
The Currier continued operating its art school and added a downtown storefront to house their museum shop, member services, a Zimmerman House tour meeting point and activities. That Hanover Street storefront closed Dec. 23 to allow for staff transition back to the museum. When the museum closed, it was estimated that construction would take about 18 months, which could have meant a January 2008 reopening, but plans now call for the museum to reopen in spring.
The New Hampshire Institute of Art has renamed its library after John Teti, a friend of the college’s trustee chair. Teti donated a collection of rare photography books dating back to the 1800s with an estimated value of $1.5 million. The special collection was unveiled in May at the college and is expected to be a magnet for photography scholars.
The arts scene in Nashua seems to have taken some hits. City Arts Nashua is only about two years old and was sharing office space with Yellow Taxi Productions on Main Street. City Arts’ lease is up in January, and board president Liz Ricciopi said they are planning to give up the space. After looking at their budget for 2007, the board saw that the office space wasn’t being used often. Rent money could be spent on programming for the arts promotion group instead, Ricciopi said. The office was used for some board meetings, but mainly by their part-time executive director, Sid Ceaser. “It’s just really hard to justify having that space,” Ricciopi said. The NH State Council on the Arts grant that funded Ceaser’s position expires this month. “We took a look ... over the course of the year, we thought maybe we don’t actually need a paid executive director,” Ricciopi said. So far it looks like Ceaser, of Plastic Camera Studio, will join the board of directors. City Arts will look for volunteers to do things like answering the phone and their Art Walk committee will take over organizing that quarterly downtown studio stroll. Ceaser did much of the organizing for it this year, after City Arts took Art Walk over from Great American Downtown.
There are usually more than 20 venues listed on the Art Walk maps, although participation levels can run the gamut. They want to see more “solid” participation from arts businesses that have established presences. Aside from the Art Walk, City Arts wants to conitnue offering a business series for artists, and wants to evolve programming “in a way that makes sense for the community,” Ricciopi said.
“I think in this day and age with the tools that we have [we] really don’t need to have a physical presence to show that we’re the real deal,” Ricciopi said. They intend to keep their phone number and Web site, cityartsnashua.org, and hold board meetings in members’ homes, restaurants or the library.
Meanwhile, the Nashua Area Artist Association had trouble this year keeping board positions filled and finding volunteer gallery sitters for Gallery One.
Manchester gained an arts Web site, www.manchester-arts.org, in November, launched by the Manchester Arts Commission and the Palace Theatre. In May, the Manchester Area Convention and Visitors Bureau ceased operations after the city cut the $80,000 contribution it normally made to the bureau. The bureau briefly had funding for an arts staffer and ran a cultural calendar that listed art events.
In Concord, Anderson-Soule Gallery closed when Trish Anderson-Soule decided to focus on corporate and residential art consulting again. She still rotates exhibits of work by the artists she represents at 2 Pillsbury. The New Hampshire Institute of Technology in Concord launched an associate degree in visual arts in 2006, which has grown so much they project that between majors and non-majors, about 700 NHTI students will take visual arts courses at the Kimball-Jenkins Estate on North Main Street this school year. Rent from the college has helped keep the estate afloat, although controversy erupted this fall when students protested a rumored turnover of the Kimball-Jenkins property to the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen headquarters. So far, it’s resulted in a probate hearing, lots of work for the Attorney General’s office, and allegations that a former employee embezzled were made public. The employee was indicted on two fraud counts in November.