The Nashua art scene is buzzing with activity. Yet for local art patron Meri Goyette it isn’t enough. She won’t stop until the Gate City is known as the Gateway to the Arts. And she is doing everything she can to make that happen.
Goyette’s imprint can be felt all over the city. She has helped promote public art through her work with the Nashua International Sculpture Symposium. Years ago, she was able to convince James Aponovich to paint a mural at City Hall, and she has been active in supporting the Hunt Memorial Building. She helped organize live music performances downtown on Thursday nights from 6 to 8 p.m. She’s even attended the Opera Circle, which shows opera on a flat-screen television at the Nashua Historic Society.
“I thought I hated opera,” Goyette said. “But now I’m hooked.”
She highlighted the works of many artists, which can now be seen in the windows of 100 Main St. in “Art Under Glass.”
“Artists should be out there being seen,” Goyette said.
Her newest project is an effort to revitalize West Pearl Street as a historic site. She already has an artist, Barbara Andrews, ready to paint a mural of Nashua in the late 1800s. She also wants to promote the history of the Greeks who first settled on West Pearl Street.
To talk with Goyette is to get lost in a frenzy of passion. She quotes Picasso — “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” — and knows everything that is happening in her city. But where does this desire to dedicate herself to the arts come from? It comes from her own personal history, which is interwoven with Nashua.
Goyette and her husband, Charles H. Goyette, have known each other since they were five years old growing up in Barre, Vt. The two were high school sweethearts, and Goyette, who joked that she was really good looking back then, told Charlie she wanted to marry a doctor, not a farmer. Dr. Charles Goyette has delivered around 10,000 babies in his career as an obstetrician.
At the beginning of that career, when the young couple was looking for a city to move to, they first thought of Manchester but something drew them to Nashua.
“Nashua is different,” Goyette said. “It is smaller and I like the feel.”
The couple raised six children in Nashua, and when they were grown, Goyette was looking for something to do. She got her start in art working as a board member of Nashua’s Arts and Science Center. Through the years, Goyette had often frequented Boston and knew the city was an artists’ haven. She eventually worked at the Hotel Meridien in Boston, where she promoted artists for 12 years. All of these experiences taught her about art and that artists needed a champion on their behalf. They have found one in Goyette.
“She’s a real dynamo,” said Jacqueline Barry, president of the Nashua Area Artist Association. “Nothing gets in her way. When it comes to promoting the arts, she doesn’t take no for an answer.”
“When you think of Meri Goyette you think of Nashua and vice versa,” Barry said.
Through her involvement, Goyette has made great friends, like Barry, whom she has known for more than 10 years.
“I love helping my community and helping the artists,” Goyette said. “I have made such wonderful friends and get to do something with my life. Arts and culture are very important.”
But life wasn’t always easy for the Goyettes. When Charles began his practice, there were few specialists and he turned down many calls because he didn’t want to be known as a general practitioner. While this was a financial struggle, the family experienced a devastating loss when their son, Robert, was murdered in Nashua in 1991.
Despite this tragedy, Goyette’s love of Nashua did not falter. While many would have turned their back, Goyette doubled her efforts to make the city a better place. It seems to be working.
“Changes are happening,” said Barry. “Nashua is now a destination place.”
But in an ever-shrinking world, where people have more mobility than ever, is there still this sense of community? Do young people still care about their community?
“Definitely,” Goyette said without hesitation. “I love working and being around young people. They have great energy.”
And Goyette has the gift of experience to pass on to whomever she encounters.
“It has been a good life,” Goyette said.