Art — Better living through artistry

Better living through artistry


By Michelle Saturley


Painting part of program’s detox and healing process


When Arts Commission chair Georgie Reagan was searching for a new artist for the spring Art on the Wall at City Hall exhibit, she decided to follow up on an idea presented to her nearly a year earlier.

“I was acquainted with Janet Stiles, who works over at A Way to Better Living,” Reagan said. “She had told me on a few occasions that one of the members who was working toward sobriety had started an arts group, and the work that was coming out of it was pretty good.”

Though Reagan had already booked the Art on the Wall slate for the remainder of the year, she kept that little bit of information stored away until the time was right.

“When we were planning the exhibits for this year, I presented Janet’s idea to the board, and they were immediately excited about the idea, even before they’d seen the work,” she said. “Then, when we saw the work, we were thrilled.”

At the time, Reagan says, there were two major obstacles to making this show a reality: a lack of art supplies and sponsor for the show. However, Reagan said that plenty of businesses in the community were willing to step forward when they heard about the concept.

“The Hatfield Gallery, the Framer’s Market and E.W. Poore all donated supplies so the work could be properly mounted,” she said. “And WestBridge Community Services, who offers peer-to-peer support to A Way to Better Living and A Road to Recovery, stepped up to the plate and offered their financial sponsorship.”

WestBridge is also the sponsor of the reception for the artists, scheduled at City Hall on April 28, to coincide with the first Open Doors Manchester Trolley Tour of 2005.

Stiles said that most of the participating artists are looking forward to the reception.

“For all of the artists involved, this was their first public showing of their work,” she said. “They were nervous, but also felt good about being accepted.”

One issue Stiles has been contending with is tracking down some of the featured artists, who have since gone out into the community. Stiles is hopeful that they are still sticking with the principles of the sobriety program and are functioning well.

“The gentleman who started the art program has since gone out into the community, and, the last I heard, he was working two jobs,” she said. “I have been trying to get in touch with him so that he will be sure to attend the reception.”

Stiles said that some of the other artists haven’t fared as well.

“One of the artists came and wanted their art back, because they had since become homeless and didn’t want to part with the art. They said it was all they had.” Still, Stiles hopes to resurrect the art group with some new artists, if the interest is there.

“It’s a positive way for these people to express themselves, which is an important factor in their continued recovery,” she said. “If people want to keep it going, and if there is a gallery in the community who would like to show the work, I would do it again.”

For more information on the new exhibit, featured at City Hall through the month of Apri,l call City Hall at 624-6500. The reception will be held on April 28, 5-8 p.m.

—Michelle Saturley

2004 HippoPress LLC | Manchester, NH