Hippo Manchester
July 21, 2005

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Lollipops and Hand Grenades

Local artist collective hosts eclectic show, peppers downtown with weird dolls

by Michelle Saturley 

If you’ve happened to notice a series of thin-limbed, pony-tailed, papier-mâché dolls strategically located at various spots around Manchester’s downtown, don’t panic. You aren’t seeing things. The dolls were created by Jason Bagatta, a member of the Monastery Artists Collective, and they were meant to pique your curiosity — provided you pay attention. The group of experimental visual artists hosted its first show on Saturday, July 16, at a studio located on West Auburn Street, just behind the Omega nightclub in downtown Manchester.

The startling one-day show, titled “Lollipops and Hand Grenades,” featured the works of about 12 local artists from a variety of media, including oil paint, drawings, found object collages, hand-blown glass and art installations. The pieces came from profoundly personal places of each artist, and demanded the viewer’s full attention.

The exhibit, a loosely organized collection that spanned several rooms on the third floor of a mill building, was held from noon to six, with a reception for the artists later that evening featuring techno music and experimental musicians.

The Collective’s founders, Jaime Grady, and glass blower Aaron Kilby Slater (who leases the studio space on W. Auburn Street), say they hope to raise awareness of the group within the community.

“The name ‘Lollipops and Hand Grenades’ signifies that anything can happen when artists get together and start experimenting,” Slater explained.

Grady began reaching out to other artists to form the Monastery Artists Cooperative, located at 300 Bedford Street, after becoming disillusioned with the mass marketing and commercialization of art. The Cooperative and the Collective are two separate groups. The Collective is a more specific group of nontraditional artists who are looking to make an impact on Manchester’s art scene through thought-provoking, sometimes shocking, words and images. The Cooperative, however, is open to any artist in need of space to think, work and share ideas with the group.

“We would like to attract nontraditional artists who are looking to become part of a group where no one person is the leader; there are no students and teachers but we learn from one another,” Grady said.

Currently, the Monastery Artists Cooperative hosts an open life drawing class each Saturday at the 300 Bedford Street location, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The class is open to all artists and costs $10 to cover the model’s posing fee.

Grady is already looking ahead to October, when the group plans to hold an exhibit focusing on masks. The group is also exploring the possibility of hosting a youth program.

For more information about the Monastery Artists Cooperative or Collective, call Jaime Grady at 913-1930.