The Hippo


Jul 16, 2019








Vivian Beer. Courtesy photo.

Art by Vivian Beer

Where: The Annex, 55 S. Commercial St., Manchester
When: On view through July 25; exhibit hours are 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., meetings with Beer by appointment
Closing night party: (RSVP only) Saturday, July 25, 8 to 11 p.m.

Another art outlet
The Annex features local furniture maker Vivian Beer

By Kelly Sennott

For an artist who’s worked in the Queen City the past six years, Vivian Beer’s got very few Manchester gigs on her resume. She’s had work in the Smithsonian, the Museum of Fine Arts, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Museum of Arts and Design, but nothing within a 10-mile radius of her Manchester studio, tucked between a ballroom dance company and car repair shop off Dow Street.

Until now, that is. These past few months, Beer’s actually been a little Manchester-crazy; she recently completed a commissioned piece for the Currier Museum of Art (a chair, part of her “Anchored Candy” series), and this week, she collaborates with The Annex to produce a show featuring her own sculptural furniture, on view July 18 through July 25.
The idea came about a few weeks ago. She’d been renting photography material from Glass and Gear, which owns The Annex studio in an old mill building, and somehow, she and owner Robert Daniel got to talking about the Manchester arts scene. He told her he’d always wanted to hold an annual or biannual contemporary art show in the space. She agreed the city needed something like that — and volunteered to be part of the first show.
“There’s this hope that both us have that [The Annex] just becomes another arts outlet here in Manchester,” said Beer, clad in jeans, work boots and a T-shirt, in her Dow Street art studio last week. “I show all over the country, but I don’t do much here. … [Manchester] is an art-light city, but it doesn’t need to be. It has a lot of the components you need as an artist. There’s a lot of space, and it’s also incredibly inexpensive.”
Beer has lived all over the country but moved here because her brother and his family are New Hampshirites. She found she liked the state more than she thought she would.
“I feel like it’s really easy to run a business in New Hampshire,” she said. “It’s a very entrepreneurial state. I feel like half the people you meet have an additional business on the side. I’ve lived all over the country, and that’s not the case everywhere.”
During her interview the Monday morning before the show’s opening, she had one last piece to finish — a bronze bench, part of her “Desert Impressions” series made from castings of the desert floor, which she took during a trip out west in 2014 as part of a fellowship. 
Visitors will find a handful from this collection, and also a variety from her other series, all of which have different personas. Pieces from her “Ruffle” collection look like gigantic slabs of ribbon folded neatly to create chairs and benches. 
Furniture in the “Streamliner” series is kind of futuristic — one cabinet pops open with the touch of a finger — and the “Infrastructure” series has an architectural, tidy appearance despite being made, for the most part, out of concrete.
The show will also highlight at least one element from her “Anchored Candy” collection, works that are bright, shiny and reminiscent of old-fashioned automobiles.
Beer said she’s inspired by forces of nature and forces of culture. Though most of her art has contemporary flair — it’s sleek and, at times, in your face — you’ll find small details reminiscent of dated fashion, from clothes and cars to furniture and pop culture. She grabs much material while traveling (she recently returned from a Smithsonian Air and Space Museum fellowship, during which she studied aeronautical design), and she looks to continue casting as well (next could be trees, rocks, mountains).
Beer said part of the reason she’s shown elsewhere is that she finds there’s more of a market for fine furniture in New York, Philadelphia or Boston; it’s her hope, though, that through this show, some of the area’s art connoisseurs will come out of the woodwork. Daniel has given her free rein to use the space as she sees fit, and he hopes it’s the start of many shows highlighting locals.
“The fact of the matter is, there is talent living here but displaying elsewhere,” he said via phone. “I want to highlight artists in New Hampshire.” 
As seen in the July 23, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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