What do you get when you mix equal parts beer and art?
“New Hampshire Proud,” a two-day pop-up art gallery at Hooksett’s White Birch Brewing, happening Friday, April 13, and Saturday, April 14.
Hooksett artist Cathy Steele and White Birch owner Bill Herlicka came up with the idea of having a pop-up gallery at the brewery sometime last fall after White Birch hosted Hooksett Farmers Market.
“We’re a small business and local, and we try to support our peers,” said Herlicka, who moved White Birch to its new location, a former car dealership on Hooksett Road, this past September. “One of the wonderful things about an urban area like Manchester and even the farmers markets and craft fairs around New Hampshire is [that there’s] a vibrant art scene, an Americana art scene. While I am not an artist, I think there’s an artistry to making beer; it’s creating something.”
Herlicka said that with the closing of different galleries, there are often not many places for pop-up and other art events to be held. He decided to team up with Steele, who was also involved in the fall farmers market, and she suggested a pop-up gallery where local artists could display, discuss and sell their work.
“It’s a chance for people to see what we’re doing, and what the artists are doing, and that’s awesome,” Herlicka said.
Southern New Hampshire University’s Culinary Arts Program will be chipping in hors d’oeuvres for the gallery’s Friday night reception, music will be playing both days, and guests will be able to tour the brewery and sample its draft offerings. All the while, 17 artists (as of early last week) will share and speak about their work, which will include paintings and photographs. Each artist will have his or her own 10-by-6-foot space to display whatever works he or she chooses, including at least one New Hampshire landscape photo or painting to keep with the gallery’s theme of Granite State pride.
“One benefit of pop-up art galleries is that they’re really focused,” said Steele, whose background is in health care management and who took on the responsibility of planning the gallery and coordinating with the artists. “People who go are looking for artwork [to buy]. It’s part of the draw for artists to do this kind of show.”
Steele’s own acrylic paintings will be included in the show, and she says her husband will be standing by her easels as she makes sure the event runs smoothly.
Part of Herlicka’s motivation to host the event is that he envisions White Birch as a “community brewery.” He said he wants it to be a place that can provide valuable, interesting events for locals to enjoy. If the pop-up art gallery goes well, Herlicka said, he hopes to host it again next year, perhaps making it an annual event. He is also currently organizing the details of a car show that the brewery will host next month.
“We provide a forum,” Herlicka said. “I get to enjoy it personally, we get to do some good, and it creates another fun event for southern New Hampshire and the Hooksett area. … We’re trying to put the word out in as many ways as we can.”
And yes, that includes Herlicka’s van, which he calls the “Birch mobile,” or his “rolling billboard.”