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Vivian’s Dream came to fruition in 2014, which is painted in downtown Nashua. Shoshana Goldfein photo.




5 to look forward to in 2015

Currier’s new exhibitions. One is “Still Life: Photorealism,” on view Jan. 24 through May 3, and consist of paintings “so real you feel you can walk into the canvas and back in time.” Another very intense exhibition starts Sept. 11, 2015: “Witness to History: James Nachtway’s 9/11 Photographs.”
Palace Theatre events. In celebration of the company’s 100th year, the Palace Theatre is going all out for its 2014-2015 season. Jodi Picoult will be featured at a Feb. 6 event, and after Christmas, the winter/spring season includes Mid-Life! The Crisis Musical; West Side Story; Godspell; Les Miserables; and The All New Piano Men.
Seacoast Repertory Theatre growth. The Portsmouth-based company was in turmoil when it requested funds from Rep supporters, with the promise it would rebuild and completely restructure itself to make it more economically sound. Upcoming mainstage performances include Guys & Dolls; Patsy Cline; Into the Woods; South Pacific; Avenue Q; a surprise Viewer’s Choice performance; and Oliver!
New Hampshire Institute of Art growth. New president Kent Devereaux expects to form a number of “smart partnerships” to help with the growth of both the Manchester BFA and the Peterborough-based MFA programs.
More public art. Because why not? All the state’s major cities have seen benefits of having a visually vibrant downtown, with examples from Nashua, Meredith, Portsmouth and Manchester.




2014’s artistic side
A look at the year’s news, trends and shows

12/25/14
By Kelly Sennott ksennott@hippopress.com



Scientific art, public art, edgy art, new leaders in art — there was a lot of cultural activity in New Hampshire this past year.

Art made appearances in interesting, dynamic and unusual ways. There were ups, there were downs, but one major trend that remained consistent was best articulated in a phone interview with Ginnie Lupi, the new director for the New Hampshire State Council on the Arts: “One of the things I think is happening very strongly in New Hampshire is that communities and community leaders are recognizing the power of the arts as they relate to community and economic development,” Lupi said. “That idea of creative communities — I think you’re going to hear a lot more about that in 2015.” Here’s a glimpse of what’s been happening.
 
Outdoor art was everywhere
This was most true in Nashua, where two long-awaited outdoor art projects were finally completed. 
One was the Gallery at the Wall in Rotary Common (315 Main St., Nashua). The project, spearheaded by Yvonne Dunetz, showcases 17 city photographs in weatherproof casing by Amherst photographer Yusuf Abudi. The other was Vivian’s Dream, a 35- by 40-foot mural depicting the Tremont House hotel in 1909. It decorates the wall behind the parking lot of TD Bank, right at the corner of Main and West Pearl streets.
Nashua public art flourished elsewhere, too: Positive Street Art added more murals to the downtown art scene (on the Heritage Rail Trail, in French Renaissance Park), and it also aided in developing the city’s inaugural Downtown Arts Festival in September and the Our City: Live Art Battle, an outdoor painting competition whose finals were showcased at the festival.
After seven years, Nashua’s Sculpture Symposium has finally become a festival people in the city recognize and celebrate. Three artists — Amgalan Tsevegmid from Mongolia, Lasha Khidasheli from the Republic of Georgia and Kim Sunjin from Korea — added to the plethora of sculptures now characteristic of the downtown cityscape. 
In fact, outdoor sculpture popped up everywhere this year; the Andres Institute of Art and Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden held their annual events and exhibitions, but the Fells Historic Estate and Gardens also played host to an outdoor sculpture exhibition, as did the town of Meredith, which held its first-ever downtown sculpture walk.
In Manchester, Eagle Eyes and Friends of Art Manchester facilitated in adding two more murals to the city, while InTown Manchester and Studio 550 recruited three artists — Rob Sardella, Carolina Davidson and Nancy Welsh — to liven three dreary utility boxes on Elm Street.
In Concord, the city celebrated its 250th birthday by establishing a community art project called Mosaic 250, which at its end will be a bright, colorful mosaic with images that reflect the city’s character. (It’s still in progress.)
 
Math, science and … art?
Math and science were manic in the New Hampshire art scene this year. This was most true at the Currier Museum of Art, where its fall exhibition, “M.C. Escher: Reality and Illusion,” fills three rooms and contains more than 180 Escher prints and drawings. 
Escher reportedly aligned himself more closely with mathematicians than with artists, and he used these complex ideas to create abstract worlds that can only exist on paper. Art and math teachers alike have been flocking to the museum with students in tow to attend both this show and the one at the SEE Science Center, “Escher: The Science Angle.”
Two other artists furthered conversations about art and science coming together. One was Alison Williams, an NHIA professor who, during a faculty Art Talks March presentation at LaBelle Winery, discussed “How Art and Science Connect.” Another was Kim Bernard, who explored physics with kinetic and kinetically inspired art at a Southern New Hampshire University exhibition called “Objects in Motion: Survey of Work by Kim Bernard,” which was on view through Dec. 18.
 
Leaders came and went
The most recent was Kent Devereaux, who stepped in as the new NHIA president. Another was Billie Tooley, the new CEO of the Manchester Community Music School. Deirdre McClure was named the new artistic director of Women Singing OUT!, a Seacoast-based, lesbian-supportive chorus that sings to inspire social change; the Seacoast Repertory Theatre lost Craig Faulkner and is looking to soon fill the gap with two full-time positions (executive and artistic director); and fiddler/violin maker Rodney Miller was named the state’s new artist laureate in March.
 
Big birthdays were celebrated
The Palace Theatre celebrated its 100th birthday during the 2014-2015 season, as did two other New Hampshire cultural institutions: the New Hampshire Audubon and the Manchester City Library. Derryfield School celebrated its 50th birthday this season with a few more artistic events, and the Currier Art Center turned 75 with an exhibition of artwork by current and past students, newspaper clippings, photos and scrapbooks that told of the center’s life. 
The Manchester Community Music School also turned 30 years old, and the Concord Chorale turned 45.
 
Youth theater took risks
This year, the kids went all out with daring, dynamic productions. In February, the Derryfield School produced Rent: School Edition, which is a singing-intensive rock opera set in the 1980s and follows a group of East Village artists confronting the new plague of the age, HIV/AIDS. In July, Peacock Players put on Spring Awakening, about 19th-century German teens who don’t get the sex talk (teen pregnancy, rape, abortion, suicide occur), and this fall, Palace Youth Theatre kids performed Carrie: The Musical, based on Stephen King’s novel.
Upon invite by the Royal Shakespeare Company, Project Shakespeare kids in Jaffrey traveled all the way to Shakespeare’s birthplace, Stratford-Upon-Avon, to perform Hamlet in August.
 
Other theater freshened up
Every year, bountiful numbers of New Hampshire actors, directors, producers and crew members talk about creating theater that’s fresh and daring, but there were a few that stood out this year.
As for new, the Community Players of Concord performed two original, locally written plays. One was Kong’s Night Out, created by Derry playwright Jack Neary, which was performed in February at the Concord Auditorium. The other was Hotel LaPutts by Wallace Pineault, which the Players performed in May.
A group of UNH alumni created a new company called Cue Zero Theatre Company, whose inaugural production was Project Zero, which was made up of two original works written by company members. This summer, local writer Aaron Sommers’ The Death of a Dragon Slayer was performed in Portsmouth. Andy’s Summer Playhouse, as always, produced original work for summer audiences, and theatre KAPOW and Wax Idiotical Films presented the fourth 24 Hour Play Festival (one day, five new short plays) in October.
There was a bit of freshening up old work, as well; the Windham Actors’ Guild took Oliver! by storm and steampunked it, and theatre KAPOW presented a new aesthetic to Macbeth on Halloween, with three actors and scarves playing every prop.
As for risk-taking, actors skated onstage in Xanadu and went butt-naked in The Full Monty at the Palace Theatre, and they performed Penelope in bright speedos with theatre KAPOW last February.
Just Love to Sing has changed its name, location and mission to serve southern New Hampshire. Piccola Opera started its Concord City Auditorium reign with a Halloween Ball and an opera vocal competition in November. Nashua native Greg Hindy finished his performance/visual art endeavor in July; he walked across the country with a camera and camping supplies in tow while promising a year of silence. 
Some local auditoriums were also freshened up; the Prescott Park Arts Festival received a new pavilion roof, and the Portsmouth Music and Arts Center moved to a new location at 973 Islington St. In Nashua, there was talk of creating a brand-new performing arts facility; that plan is still under wraps. 
 
As seen in the December 25, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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