May 8, 2008

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Public eye
Nashua to host international sculpture symposium
By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

One of the coolest places you’ll find around these parts, though it’s not very well-known, is the Andres Institute of Art. The trails of the former ski hill are open to the public to traverse, free of charge, while viewing, touching or even sitting on outdoor sculptures. For nine years, a small group of sculptors from around the world has been invited for an annual symposium there. They work for about three weeks and leave a piece of artwork on the hill.

Andres Institute, at 98 Route 13, marks its 10th symposium this September. So far, symposia with themes like “Sit On It” and “Liberated Pedagogy” have resulted in 48 works across the hill.

There’s a big emphasis on involving the public. People are encouraged to watch the work and talk to the artists. The project depends upon community volunteers, who house the visiting sculptors, bring meals, borrow heavy equipment to site the pieces and act as caretakers for artwork.

Now, Nashua is partnering with Andres Institute to create its own downtown International Sculpture Symposium, a series called “Footprints.”

“We certainly want to not just sit up on this little mountain and have people come here. We want to go out and be with people.... They’re welcome to come here for respite ... it’s an even exchange,” said John Weidman, sculptor and director of Andres.

Weidman will be joining four sculptors May 18 through June 8 working out of the NIMCO factory in Nashua’s millyard.

The theme is “First Footprints.”

“You affect people’s lives even without knowing it,” Weidman said. People leave behind craft, artwork, music and writing and you may not always see the person behind the product, “but you see the result of their efforts, their passions, essentially,” Weidman said.

Three of the sculptors participating in Nashua have already taken part in an Andres symposium: Vaclav Fiala of the Czech Republic; James Gannon of Ireland, and Tomas Oliva of Cuba. Mai Thu Van of Vietnam is the fifth.

One of the main forces behind the Nashua project is long-time Nashua arts patron Meri Goyette.

“Truly where else do you have large sculptures in a downtown?” she asked. It’s common in Europe and in warmer states, but she thinks it will be new to New England. She’s determined to make Footprints happen, and to have it continue next year, she said.

Goyette and her husband have donated about $10,000. She’s working on fundraising, and needs about $37,000 more by June 8, she said. However, she does not want to ask the area merchants because she feels they are asked too frequently to give.

No matter. Goyette is soldiering on. Alan A. Manoian, Nashua’s former downtown development director, is helping to recommend sites for the final pieces, Goyette said. The city’s community development division is on board. The artists of the Picker Building, as well as the Nashua Area Artists Association, are holding concurrent events during the symposium. City Arts Nashua is helping with the organizing.

Of the millyard artists, Weidman said, “I’m excited to know them. I’m learning things from them.”

“You know, the art community, I think it’s a shot in the arm for them,” Goyette said. “We’ll be highlighting the mill studios.”

“We see it as an opportunity for a lot of business and arts organizations to jump on the bandwagon and get out there within that period of time when we’re hoping to draw a lot of people,” said Liz Racioppi of City Arts Nashua. “It’s an interesting public project but also has an international flavor,” she said. This is one of several projects City Arts is involved in. Some City Arts members are also helping with things like hosting meals for the visiting sculptors, and one is taking the artists to the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston for a day.

The fall Andres symposium theme is “Reflections.” The nonprofit group is working to improve its parking, and seeks volunteers to help with the trails and the symposium. There’s also a lecture and workshop series at Andres, and special public events and tours during the symposium.

Works of art
Watch the sculptors at work between May 24 and June 4, at NIMCO, 1 Pine St. Extension in Nashua, between noon and 2 p.m. Monday through Friday; from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursdays; and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays. Related exhibits, demonstrations, entertainment, events, and architecture tours are being planned for downtown and the Nashua millyard area including the following:
• Symposium opening reception at Gallery One, 5 Pine St. Extension, in Nashua, Sunday, May 18, 4 to 6 p.m.
• Trunk sale at Stepping Stones Jewelry in the Picker Building, 99 Factory St., Saturday, May 24
• Pottery demonstrations at Out on a Limb Pottery in the Picker Building May 24
• Spring art exhibit “Garden Party” at Gallery One through May 24
• Loretta CR Hubley art exhibit, “A Floating World,” featured at Gallery One through June
• Nashua C.A.R.E.S., a community project featuring children’s art displayed in windows along Main Street in Nashua in June
• Public urban design mobile workshop, “Forms of Expression,” conducted by Alan A.Manoian, AICP.
• Symposium closing reception and Victorian Day, Sunday, June 8, on the lawn of the Hunt Building, 6 Main St.
Student field trips are available. For more information, or to help out, call The Andres Institute at 673-8441. Visit www.andresinstitite.org or www.CityArtsNashua.org for more details. All events are free and open to the public..



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