The life of a visual artist is often solitary. Hours of dedication and practice are needed to master a craft like painting, sculpting or furniture making. Yet a new exhibit spotlights the influences friends and colleagues can have on an artist’s work.
“An Artist’s Circle,” which opens July 9 and will run through Aug. 28 at the Sharon Arts Exhibition Gallery in Peterborough, will showcase the work of some of New Hampshire’s most prominent artists.
The exhibit is the brain child of former New Hampshire Artist Laureate painter James Aponovich and his wife, and fellow artist, Elizabeth Johansson. It will display their work as well as that of 12 of their friends and colleagues, including Lifetime New Hampshire Artist Fellows Jon Brooks (furniture maker) and Gary Haven Smith (sculptor), current New Hampshire Artist Laureate furniture master David Lamb, Governor’s Arts Award winner Gerry Williams (potter) and MacArthur Fellowship winner David Carroll (naturalist and illustrator).
Most of these artists will be on hand at an opening reception Friday, July 9, from 5 to 7 p.m., which is free and open to the public and will provide an amazing chance to see some of the best artists in a variety of disciplines.
“We’re thrilled and our constituents are thrilled to host such an exciting show,” said Sharon Arts Exhibition Gallery Manager Camellia Sousa. “This an excellent opportunity to see some of the most awarded artists in New Hampshire. Many of these artists have had their work shown nationally and internationally.”
Obviously, the artists have reached success. But how did their friendships with other artists help their climb to the top of New Hampshire’s art scene?
“Typically, in my case, I interact with other furniture makers,” Lamb said. “We get together on a monthly basis and are in constant communication.”
Lamb said they talk about what they think about certain venues, shows and techniques. He also said talking to and working with artists with different skills is stimulating and inspirational and can take an artist to places he never expected.
Lamb said he was reading a book by David Carroll and it was fascinating to get inside the head of a such a smart man. Lamb said regardless of the medium, artists use art as an expression of the heart.
Over the years, Lamb has received a lot of advice and physical help with his furniture making from his best friend: his wife, Janet.
“A lot of times I’ll be thinking about something and it is entirely too complicated,” Lamb said. “Then I call my wife in and she gives a real direct, straightforward response and it is really great.”
Lamb said while he felt fortunate to be able to spend so much time with his wife, he realizes not every couple can do that and so much of art needs to be done alone.
“Being a visual artist is really such a solitary pursuit,” Sousa said. “These sort of exhibits bring them together.”
About three years ago, Lamb and Aponovich came together on their first of three (so far) collaborations, playfully referred to as Lamb-ovich. These pieces integrate Lamb’s furniture making with Aponovich’s paintings. This collaboration, however, began after both artists had reached a high level of personal success.
“Certain things come forward when the time is right,” Lamb said. Lamb said he had admired Aponovich’s work and wondered whether the Nashua-born painter would work with him. As it turned out, Aponovich was also looking for a similar project. When collaborating, Lamb said, the two talk on the phone at least every other day, discussing progress and schedule. He said there was never any tension or posturing about who would outshine whom.
“It has been a very satisfying interaction,” Lamb said. “And it keeps you on your toes.”