May 14, 2009

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Nine public artworks for Nashua?
Nashua prepares for second international sculpture symposium

By Heidi Masek hmasek@hippopress.com

Five public sculptures were added to Nashua over the past year through its first International Sculpture Symposium. Four more are expected to be placed in June after a second, from May 17 through June 7.

Nashua arts patron Meri Goyette said motivation for the effort goes back to reading the Money magazine issues naming Nashua the best place to live twice: “One thing that was lacking in Nashua was art and culture,” Goyette said.

Brookline sculptor John Weidman said Goyette wanted him to have a show in Nashua, and thought it would be fun if the city would buy some artwork. But nobody has any money, Weidman said. He proposed a symposium to help Goyette get more public artwork into Nashua.

Weidman is the director of Andres Institute of Art in Brookline, which he co-founded with its main benefactor, Paul Andres. Visitors can explore more than 50 sculptures along hiking trails. The artwork comes from its fall international sculpture symposia. In its 11th year, Andres Institute is open during daylight hours and admission is free, though donations are welcome.

Nashua’s symposium uses Brookline’s model of relying on the community. Goyette has a long list of folks involved, including those providing materials and helping with installation. Ultima NIMCO in Nashua’s millyard is again providing workspace. The City of Nashua and the Parks and Recreation Department are helping. “Everyone has really pitched in,” Goyette said.

“We just could not do it without volunteer community and participation and support that exists there.... The time and energy and expense that a lot of people have gone through to help us have been really tremendous,” Weidman said.

There are probably more than 50 volunteers involved, according to organizers. Many help with meals and transportation, Marjorie Bollinger Hogan said. She became involved through City Arts Nashua. Restaurants are donating. Picker Building artists are hosting a potluck. Volunteers (including Goyette and her husband, Dr. Charles Goyette) house the visiting sculptors.  

“Hopefully, I think [the public artwork] would draw people to the city to come and see the work. It brings the community together” and raises awareness of arts in the community from both inside the city and outside the city, Hogan said. It “helps connect us,” she said.

The City of Nashua, For the Artist and the Nashua Area Artists Association are also involved. Andres Institute is serving as the 501(c)3 nonprofit. Weidman participated last year (his “Monument to Memory” is on South Main Street) and will again this year. Visiting artists are Luben Boykov, originally of Bulgaria, who has worked at Andres Institute (www.sculpturebyluben.com), along with Michele Golia of Italy and Sarah Mae Wasserstrum of Israel. The city has funding from the Rotary Club to turn land on Main Street near Lake Street into “Rotary Park.” Boykov’s, Golia’s and Wasserstrum’s work will be installed there, Goyette said. 

The theme for 2009 is “Future:” “Well, it’s what we do today that is our future ... it’s not the future, not a future. Just future, which is omnipresent, every nanosecond, every decision. We can make a decision in an instant which will affect the future, and we have to consider that,” Weidman said.

Last year’s theme was “First Footprints.” The five sculptures from 2008 are now installed. “Moon Shadow” by Mai Thi Thu Van of Vietnam is on library grounds, and “Frida Rota,” by Cuban sculptor Tomas Oliva is on Temple Street. Weidman said the people who have works in their location are excited about it. They like them, “and the sculptures like the people, as well,” Weidman said.

“Nashua is known as the Gate City. So we’re dubbing it the Gateway to Art,” Goyette said. She thinks this will attract visitors. It’s also educational, she said. Vaclav Viala, a sculptor from the Czech Republic, created “For Frank Lloyd Wright,” in 2008, inspired by the architect. It’s installed on the grounds of Elm Street Middle School where a teacher used it for lessons about architecture and art. Art teachers are also helping Goyette organize a walk-athon with students in the fall.

Although this is public artwork, they don’t use taxpayer funding. Goyette said they are aiming to raise about $36,000 to cover costs. New Hampshire Charitable Foundation provided a $5,000 grant. She has fundraisers planned, and seeks major sponsors for the pieces. Goyette was actually canvassing on Main Street in Nashua last week. “It’s going to happen because it has to happen,” Goyette said of the symposium.

“I think it’s just amazing how much art we got for so little money,” Hogan said. Pam Tarbell, owner of Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord, said public sculpture prices range widely — from about $10,000 to about $500,000 for a large piece. There are lots of variables, and she can’t give an exact comparison, but said Nashua’s getting a “huge value.” They raised about $36,000 for last year’s event and placed five sculptures — that’s “peanuts” for that amount of work, Tarbell said.

Tarbell opens her summer outdoor sculpture exhibit in June.

The artists who come to Brookline get a stipend, but have said they come for the opportunity to experiment with materials, techniques or tools — which is hard for them to do with commissioned work.

In Brookline, the artists close their few weeks of frantic art-making with installation of their piece on their chosen site. That was not possible in Nashua last year. Weidman said the artists were disappointed that they weren’t able to participate in the installation process or dedication ceremonies. The last one, “Birth of Venus,” by James Gannon of Ireland, was installed a few weeks ago.

This year, however, Nashua’s locations are already set at Rotary Park, and equipment and personnel are being organized so the artists can be present, Weidman said.

Andres Institute’s 2009 symposium runs Sept. 13 through Oct. 4, themed “Cornerstone,” reflecting “Basically fundamental considerations of importance, namely how we as a society collectively hold up ideals ... of that society,” Weidman said. Artists will probably come from Burkina Faso, Turkey, the U.S. and Australia.


Outdoor art
Manchester is also seeking to install more public art downtown.

• “Vivace,” the public sculpture that was installed Monday, May 11, in front of Verizon Wireless Arena (555 Elm St.), is dedicated to longtime Manchester city Arts Commissioner Georgie Reagan. “She’s the one who’s been quietly pushing to make sure these art funds are there,” said Meena Gyawali, the city’s development coordinator. It’s been a lot of hard work, she said.

Jonathan and Evelyn Clowes of Walpole were chosen from about 80 artists’ submissions who answered a 2006 request for proposals for the piece.

“We actually looked at a couple of different sites trying to figure out where it would fit the best,” Gyawali said. With Granite Street scheduled for an overhaul and a new entry ramp from the highway planned, the city wanted a sculpture to be a focal point as people enter downtown.

Representatives from City Hall, the arena and the general public put together a proposal and judged finalists.

“It seemed appropriate to have something sort of related to sports,” Gyawali said. They may have been thinking about actual sports figures originally, but the Clowes design was more representational of movement, she said. Considerations included future maintenance, the artists’ history, safety, issues of graffiti and whether people would be able to climb on it.

“Vivace” is approximately 18 feet tall and six feet wide. The cost is $50,000, with $10,000 raised by the City Art Commission, and $40,000 coming from the arena’s percent for art fund. That fund also is used for other art-related projects in the city, like the Palace Theatre and the Acting Loft.

• Submissions were due in April for a recent request for qualifications from the City of Manchester for public artwork for the intersection of Granite and Old Granite streets.

Gyawali said the city is forming a panel to choose among about 20 submissions. It’s expected to include two arts commissioners and a highway department member to access structural engineering issues. The judging team will ask three or four artists to provide detailed proposals. Gyawali hopes to have an artist chosen in the next couple months, and a piece installed next spring.

Preference will go to an artist within Manchester or the state, she said. They learned a lot about transportation issues from the last project and want to find an artist within driving distance.

No taxpayer dollars are involved. Funding comes from contributions from the arts fund and citizen donations, Gyawali said. 

A lot of people come to the city to see the Currier but don’t realize there is other art in the city, Gyawali said. For locals, the public art is something to enjoy that doesn’t cost them money. She also hopes that these pieces help draw people downtown and start dialogues around art in the city.

• “I think it’s always good to have public art,” said arts commissioner Liz Hitchcock May 6, after the installation of a bronze bull sculpture at the former Jac Pac site in Manchester. Whether it’s a piece like the Currier’s that caused a stir, or a piece everyone loves, it’s good to get people talking about it, Hitchcock said.

Essex, Mass., artist Chris Williams created the abstracted bull, which weighs about a ton. Trustees of the Alex Shapiro Charitable Trust have donated it “to commemorate Manchester’s entrepreneurial tradition as exemplified by the founders and employees of Granite State Packing Company and Jac Pac Foods.” It’s on the east side of the Hands Across the Merrimack footbridge.

Williams and his apprentice installed the piece May 6 as a crane lowered it. Irwin Muskat, the last president of family business Jac Pac Foods, was present, along with cousin Lee Forgosh, of Art 3 Gallery. “I love it ... It appeals to all my senses,” Forgosh said. Jac Pac was sold 10 years ago, she said.

Symposium events
• The opening reception is Sunday, May 17, from 4 to 6 p.m. at Gallery One, 5 Pine St. Extension in Nashua.
• Watch the sculptors at work, or see in-process pieces between May 23 and June 3 at NIMCO, 1 Pine St. Extension in Nashua. Visiting times are from noon to 2 p.m. Monday though Friday, Thursdays from 4 to 6 p.m., and from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturdays.
• Albert Wilkinson, who has an engraving and embossing studio in the Picker Building, photographed the sculptors at work in 2008. An exhibit of those images is at the Hampshire First Bank, 221 Main St. in Nashua, from May 17 through June 12. A reception for the exhibit is Wednesday, May 20, at 6:30 p.m.
• Check www.CityArtsNashua.org for related art exhibits, demonstrations, performances and tours as dates are announced.
Contact hershk@nashuanh.gov, Meri Goyette at 882-1613, or the Andres Institute at 673-8441 or see www.andresinstitute.org


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