Art — The return of the art trolley tour
The return of the art trolley tour

By Michelle Saturley


The sun shines, the artists show and hundreds turn out for Queen City drive-through 

After days of dismal rain, the sun made a long-overdue appearance on Thursday, April. 28, just in time for the first Open Doors trolley tour of the year. The combination of pleasant weather and strong organization and marketing by the event’s planners drew a large crowd of city residents, and  art lovers from out of town.

The Majestic Theatre was the fiscal agent for the tour, and the Open Doors Committee consisted of some of the most energetic and influential people in the arts, including Jessica Kinsey (director of development at NHIA), Randy Knowles (East Colony Fine Arts and Knowles Design), Hope Jordan (former marketing director at the Currier Museum) Jan Langer (owner of Langer Place), and Georgie Reagan (Manchester Art Commission). The Committee also procured a grant from the NH State Council on the Arts and wrangled a media sponsor, WZID. The radio station had been promoting the event for weeks, and many of the attendees mentioned the radio spots as the reason they were there.

The committee’s renewed passion for the event definitely showed in the final product. A Boston-based trolley company provided two shiny, well-kept trolleys for the event, driven by pleasant, professional drivers who were enjoying the evening as much as the passengers.

For the majority of the evening there was standing room only on the trolleys, which bogged the pick-up and drop-off schedule down a bit. But many of the venues were close together, so it was easy to walk from place to place while waiting for the trolley to come back.

Langer Place was one of the major destinations of the evening. East Colony Fine Arts scheduled the opening of its  “Petals 2 Paint” exhibit to coincide with the Open Doors tour.

“We’ve probably already had 300 people in here so far, and it’s only 6:30,” said Sally Gordon Shea, member artist at East Colony and one of the show’s organizers. “We’ve been very busy.”

Not faring quite so well was the Valley Cemetery, one of the newer stops on the tour. The driver on one of the trolleys pleaded with passengers to get off at the Cemetery and visit with the folks, “Before they change from tour guides to permanent residents.” The Friends of the Valley Cemetery have been working to raise the profile of the historic landmark cemetery.

The Franco American Centre rejoined the Open Doors event this year, after a significant absence from all of last year’s tours. Adele Baker says that in the past, the cost for joining the tour was prohibitive, but this time around, the event organizers had lowered the cost and made it more affordable for some of the smaller venues.

- Michelle Saturley

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