Coming into its 59th year, the Greeley Park Art Show in Nashua remains as community-oriented and as invigorating as it was 40 years when event co-director Sandra Peters sold her first pieces of art.
The art show and local art organizations enabled residents, such as Peters, to become the artists they are today.
“I always wanted to be an artist, back when I was very young, probably when I was just 4 or 5 years old. I never received a formal education in the arts — it just didn’t work out. I took my very first art classes with the Keyes Art Group in Milford,” Peters said. “My education was through the different courses and groups in the area.”
This community and these events are incredibly helpful to area artists, Peters said, and it’s likely why the event is entering its 59th year this weekend, Saturday, Aug. 18, and Sunday, Aug. 19. It features an adult Best of Show Competition (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday), a student art competition (10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday), scholarship announcements (4 p.m. Sunday), music by classical guitarist George Parker (10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday), marionette shows by puppet master Teresa Moler (2 p.m. Saturday, 11:15 a.m. and 2 p.m. Sunday), a raffle and a hoopium demonstration by Robin Rapture (10 a.m. Saturday).
The event today features far more multi-media work, said co-director Jacqueline Barry. Thousands of visitors will come to see all types of art, including oil, acrylic, photography and even jewelry.
New this year: Teacher Janet Moran of Elm Street Middle School in Nashua will put on a demonstration and film of the kids she teaches, about the process of creating ceramics, Barry said.
It’s also a community-driven event; scholarships and raffles are funded through local organizations, businesses and banks. Barry hopes that the activities, the kids’ showing and the scholarships encourage more kids to come out, to see local art and art of their peers. On Sunday, the Nashua Area Arts Association and the Unitarian Universalist Calvin Libby Memorial Fund scholarships will be awarded to two New Hampshire artists.
“I hope that these [events and scholarships] encourage more kids to come in — there are so many scholarships geared towards kids in sports, but this is something for the more artistic kid. Children are a big part of the arts scene,” Barry said. And the quality of the youngsters’ work is unbelievable, Barry said. “They’ve developed their own technique already, the high school kids. I’m amazed at how non-influenced they are when it comes to art. It seems that they’re more free-thinking at this age,” Barry said.
It is, according to its website, the oldest art show in southern New Hampshire, and is the biggest event that NAAA puts on each year, hosting work from at least 50 area artists.
“There’s a lot of creative energy in this part, from Lowell to Peterborough — lots of people here are in the ‘artistic state of mind,’ but this is a nice summertime event,” Barry said. It’s also free admission. “It’s just a nice way to spend the day, looking at art.
There’s something new to look at every year, but there’s something about the show that still has a little New England charm to it.
“In New England, there seems to be a lot more green space, and there seems to be a softer form of art. I’ve seen art from the Southwest; it seems harsher, perhaps because of the environment, the elements. We also have a lot of history,” Barry said, which is evident to visitors when they view the still lifes, the old houses and farm houses featured in these pieces shown, she said.
But the best part is seeing the thousands who come to view the work.
“I love it when the public comes — seeing them smile, seeing the kids amazed. It’s fun to watch the children enjoy the arts,” Peters said. “And I always get a kick out of seeing people coming with their dogs.”