Artist, meet writer
Art parties give singers, designers, painters and others a chance to mingle
By Adam Coughlin firstname.lastname@example.org
Sports fans have it easy. Go to a Fisher Cats game and find 6,000 people with a similar interest. But where can artists go to meet people with the same creative outlook on life? Tanya Lacourse, who studied in Boston and worked in New York City and San Francisco, could find no answer in New Hampshire. She decided to take matters into her own hands.
She enlisted her neighbor, Kristina Gerig, and a mutual friend from New York, Travis Commeau, and held her first art party last April. The concept was familiar to her, as Lacourse had hosted much larger-scale ones in New York. She did her research on local artists and utilized Facebook to reach out to friends of friends. She encouraged sculptors, painters, photographers, all disciplines of art, all ages to submit pictures of their work. At the first art party, which was held at Wallie and Bernies in Manchester (Lacourse’s old roommate was a bartender), 30 people turned out.
Now, she holds art parties every three months or so.
“Long enough between parties so people don’t get burned out but close enough so people don’t forget,” Lacourse said. “People think in New York you can do anything but in reality everything has already been done. In New Hampshire we have an opportunity to shape it as we want.
“I’ve been to cool little boutiques in Brooklyn that were selling the work of New Hampshire artists,” Lacourse said. “I thought, why can’t they do that back home?”
The art party is like a young professionals mixer without the dinner jacket. Many in attendance at the fourth and most recent art party, which was held on Wednesday, May 12, at Jewell and the Beanstalk, 793 Somerville St. in Manchester, had done the traditional networking scene and found it too rigid.
“I’ve been to some business events but found them too formal,” said Becky O’Neil, standing in front of one of her handbags, which hung on display inside the cafe. “It’s been great rounding up all of these creative people and each party seems to attract someone new.”
Ryan Hoarty, a creative writer who is working on taming his first novel, was in the car when his girlfriend, graphic designer Amy Mauriello, announced they were going to the art party. Hoarty was happy he came.
“I just moved to Manchester and want to surround myself with people with the same mind-set,” Hoarty said. “I hope we can push and support each other.”
Maggie Baldwin, who also designs handbags, agreed with Hoarty’s assessment. She said it was great to have a support network and the best thing about the art parties is that there are people from all aspects of art, so whatever your cup of tea, you’re likely to find a match. This was done by design.
“There are tons of interesting people in Manchester,” said Travis Commeau. “But there was little inter-pollination between art groups and circles of friends. We wanted organic relationships, where you didn’t just pass out your business cards.”
“I like meeting people, especially creative people,” said Kate Baker Richards, whose jazz singing was playing on CD through the café speakers. “When someone finishes a project or is published in a magazine it is a blast to share that moment with them.”
This wasn’t always the case in New Hampshire. The art scene has very much been a closed industry, according to Sonia Chopra, an L.A.-based website designer who grew up in Manchester.
“I grew up taking art classes at the Currier but there wasn’t anything outside of that,” Chopra said. “I think these parties are really good for the city.”
It is exciting to be on the ground floor of a new venture and Hoarty believes Manchester has a lot working in its favor.
“Manchester is small enough to make great connections and relationships but big enough to have a cultural side and urban opportunities,” Hoarty said.
The next art party won’t be until the fall as schedules book up in the summer. To learn more, contact Lacourse by e-mail at email@example.com.