event for artists, by artists
However, art fans are also welcome at the Greeley Park Art Show
By all accounts, the
Greeley Park Art Show in Nashua is the It event for area fine artists.
The festival marks 52
years with this weekend’s festival, Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21,
from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in Greeley Park. Entrance to the event is free and
nearly 100 artists have registered to show their works.
The artists have found
a good home in Greeley Park, and recently the Nashua Area Artists
Association, which organizes the festival, has been working to make it a
top summer event.
I learned all this from
Sarah Roche, the president of the Nashua Area Artists Association.
The fee to participate
is $20 for members of the association. It costs $25 to become a member
of the organization. Nonmembers can exhibit for $45, said Mark Vatalaro,
the owner of Bilancia Gallery on West Pearl St.
Vatalaro is the contact
person for people interested in participating at the show.
I asked whether, as a
gallery owner, Vatalaro saw the show as a way to make contacts.
“I always hope to make
contacts,” Vatalaro said. “However, my reason is to make Nashua a
destination for the arts.”
Ambition and concern
for the Nashua art scene drives the show, which in recent years has been
given a boost by a revitalized downtown — several new galleries have
opened in the area in the past three years.
With it, the quality of
the art has increased.
“It’s very good with a
lot of people not recognizing that it is good,” Roche said of the Nashua
area art scene.
On the ground, several
veterans acknowledge that the times are changing.
“The people have
changed, some artists have retired, some have left,” said Marilene Sawaf,
an oil painter who has been attending the show for 20 years. “There are
many new people ... and the artists are more talented.”
With new people coming
in — the show hit 100 participants for the first time two years ago —
organizers face an old dilemma.
What is art?
Specifically, what is
At the art show, there
is a conscious attempt to make sure that the very gray line between art
and craft is not crossed.
“I thought it was a
two-dimensional show,” said Leslie Malouf, a potter who did not even
apply to be included in the show. “I only do functional pottery.”
That is a
misconception. The art show is looking for three-dimensional work; for
example, jewelers display their work at the show.
When it comes to the
most visible display of three-dimensional art, the show is lacking.
“There are no
sculptors, unfortunately,” Vatalaro said. “I would love to add some into
Apparently, few, if
any, sculptors, have their studios in Nashua. Vatalaro said he hopes
sculptors will move to the area and give the Nashua art scene further
dimension and fill the vacuum.
But in a show that is
then dominated by two dimensional art work, paintings and photographs,
and one that is trying to become a center for art, there is a difficulty
in evaluating other media.
“They have to be fine
arts crafts,” said Vatalaro. “It’s blown glass versus dolls ... we are
trying to come up with some guidelines and the crafts have to be juried
to enter the show.”
And, to make it a
fairer system, the organizers are further thinking of having a jury
examine all the art entering the show, Vatalaro said.
The show organizers
will award prizes in several different categories: oil, watercolor,
acrylic, photography, pastels, printmaking, and mixed media. The jury
members are not from the area, and so are unlikely to be friends with
any of the competing artists.
The whole weekend costs
$3000 to $5000 — programs are normally paid for by sponsors, although
when I talked to him about a week before the show, Vatalaro was still
searching for a sponsor to pay for the programs. There is an additional
expense — the show offers $1000 scholarships to two high school students
There is also one
significant change this year. Each year the art show also gives children
aged 3 to 18 the opportunity to display alongside adults. However,
logistical difficulties forced a rethink.
“It was a big problem
for parents; they had to come both days, bring the children, set up,
take down everything, and then return the following day,” said Roche.
This year, the
youngsters will be limited to only the second day of the exhibition. The
show will give awards on the second day for two groups of children:
three to six year olds, and 18 and under.
Most afternoons Monique
Sakellarios sits in Maison de L`Art, her studio on East Pearl St. Many
times, I have found her, paintbrush in hand, dabbing away at the canvas.
“I paint in the
impressionist style,” Sakellarios said, as I sat in her narrow gallery.
I asked Sakellarios
what it takes to be an artist.
“It’s a full time job,”
Sakellarios said. “I don’t think you ever stop working.”
Oh, so she made art all
the time — how wonderful, I thought.
“To succeed you have to
be established, driven and disciplined,” Sakellarios said. “You have to
take criticism rigorously and you have to be tough.”
described a trip she took to an art fair with her son.
“My son said he could
not do that,” Sakellarios said.
“Sell the paintings.”
Sell the paintings?
“Between the painting
and the marketing and the shipping, it takes 12 hours a day,”
Sakellarios said. “A lot of galleries are seasonal ...gallery on the
green in Vermont is best in the fall, because of the foliage; Cape Cod
is busy in the summer.”
Suddenly, I was seeing
the supposedly relaxed life as an artist through another lens.
Over the phone,
Marilene Sawaf trashed my fantasy even further.
“The life of an artist
is very bad,” said Sawaf, who studied interior design at college. Sawaf,
who grew up in Lebanon, started painting when she immigrated to the
“You have to work,
[then you] sell, don’t sell,” Sawaf said. “It is very unpredictable.”