The Hippo


Jul 24, 2019








Volunteers paint the mural at French Renaissance Park. Courtesy photo.

Attend PSA DeFined

Where: Arena Sports Bar & Nightclub, 53 High St., Nashua, 881-9060
When: Thursday, May 21, 7-10 p.m.

Staying positive
Positive Street Art starts spring with a pop of color

By Kelly Sennott

Now that the long, cold winter is over, Positive Street Art wastes no time in continuing its mission: to inspire passion and build the Nashua community through urban arts. During phone and in-person interviews last week, PSA members hit on some of the nonprofit’s recent efforts to brighten the city’s downtown with paint, dance and music.

PSA Passport
PSA’s Passport program is sort of like a smaller version of the Nashua ArtWalk, except it involves downtown businesses without a natural art presence.
Every Wednesday evening and Saturday afternoon in April, partnering restaurants — including San Francisco Kitchen, The Nashua Garden, Agave Azul Mexican Restaurant, WineNot Boutique and O’Brien’s Sports Bar, among others — presented local artists and their art as part of PSA’s pilot Passport program, meant to get the word out before the larger version’s launch early summer.
“We wanted to get local artists exposed while helping businesses downtown,” PSA president Ulibarri said via phone. “We thought the best way to do that would be to showcase them in a sort of scavenger hunt form.”
On these days, participants were encouraged to visit the businesses, meet the artists and move on to the next a few doors down. Once all the sites were stamped in their PSA passports, they received free T-shirts at the 174 Main St. PSA site.
Jason DeBow braved the cloudy and windy evening while he painted en plein air outside Agave Azul on one of these nights, wearing a Runner’s Alley T-shirt and eating tacos as he worked on a tiny watercolor of the street ahead of him.
“I love what [PSA] is doing. I think it’s really fantastic,” DeBow said. 
Down the street, Teri Moores displayed her bright, bold art at O’Brien’s Sports Bar — she had recently begun hanging work at local businesses because of her home’s declining wall space — and at The Nashua Garden, Tom Lopez showed off two paintings. One, a black and white acrylic, was inspired by his job as an employment education advocate at the Nashua Soup Kitchen. The other was a hot air balloon skyscape crafted with spray paint. 
Some passersby glanced at the art before moving on with their meals, but a few stopped by and asked questions. At least a couple artists used the opportunity to sell or get artwork commissioned.
Ulibarri plans to recruit more artists and businesses in May for a larger version starting in June. The difference is that the artists’ work will hang in businesses for longer periods of time — perhaps a month or two — and the meet-and-greets will happen once a month.
Though traffic has been slow in this small pilot program, businesses appreciate the effort.
“We wanted to be involved because PSA has always been supportive with our business, ever since we opened a year ago,” said Agave Azul owner Pedro Aguirre, who hired PSA to paint the restaurant’s indoor mural. “I think this is just what Nashua needs. There [are] enough bars and restaurants and everything, but this is something to bring the kids downtown for — to eat, walk around and enjoy the arts. They’re making the downtown more attractive.”
Bastian DiCaprio, manager of San Francisco Kitchen, agrees.
“I like the concept,” DiCaprio said. “And we don’t mind helping them out because they’re giving us business as well.”
PSA DeFined
There’s a name for the phenomenon that happens when, at a dance party, the crowd gathers around one or two dancers trying to one-up each other — a dance cypher — and it’s the heart of the nonprofit’s spring art show, PSA DeFined, on Thursday, May 21.
“A dance cypher is like a dance battle, but it’s in a freestyle form,” Ulibarri said.
The event, which occurs at the Arena Sports Bar & Nightclub, will contain visual art by local artists, the dance cypher, live painting and a DJ battle (the winner of which will provide music for the afterparty). 
The annual spring show’s new elements come with the nonprofit’s constant effort to “one-up” itself. Last year’s live art battle series (in which artists created work live within an allocated time period) was very successful, and Ulibarri said it will continue this summer too.
Mural work
PSA is also in the midst of painting two downtown murals. One, a ginormous painting of rolling hills and rivers that tells of the history of French-Canadian settlement, is about 80 percent completed and located on the skirts of French Renaissance Park. 
The other is an ode to Christa McAuliffe, located on the rail trail off the corner of Ash and West Hollis streets. PSA artistic director Manny Ramirez has been driving this project with the help of a collection of PSA youth. 
Ulibarri expects both will be completed this summer, though if PSA’s three-year history is any indication, they won’t be the nonprofit’s only projects.
“Every year, we just keep expanding. We always have something to do. Art is everywhere, and it’s not something we’re going to get tired of. We’re not going to run out of places to paint; we always have people asking if we can do something in their space, indoors or outdoors,” Ulibarri said. “We’re always looking for volunteers.”
As seen in the May 7, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

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