Arts bringing the community together

Posted by Stephanie Tickner on Thursday, June 14, 2012 Under: Art Exhibits
One of the really fun parts of being an artist in the Monadnock region is when the community comes together around art. When I participate in art events, exhibits and fairs, I meet so many new people, connect with friends, and others I haven’t seen in awhile, and really feel I am part of an amazing place.

The annual Keene Art Walk is a great example of art bringing the community together. I was juried into the Art Walk and assigned a window in Clark Mortenson Insurance on Main Street. On Thursday, May 31, when I had to set up my paintings in Keene, I had a crazy day of moving my art around in town! First I had to get to Keene. We had terrible storms on Tuesday, May 29, complete with two tornado warnings in Marlow and surrounding towns! The incredible amounts of rain that fell in a very short time completely washed out many area roads, both dirt and paved! Thankfully, unlike some, I was not stranded and was able to find a round about route from Marlow to Keene.

This is the route my daughter’s school bus took to get from Marlow to Keene on Wednesday, May 30. It was only one lane in places!

Once in Keene I took down my two month exhibit from the 3rd floor of Keene City Hall in the City Manager’s suite. Then, I carried my laundry basket full of paintings wrapped in tapestries and pillowcases down to the 1st floor Revenue Office of City Hall to hang a different two month exhibit there. I noticed people look at you funny when you walk around City Hall with a laundry basket! 

My exhibit on the 1st floor of City Hall

After finishing at City Hall I drove down to the other end of Main Street to Clark Mortenson. It can be a bit nerve wracking hanging an exhibit in a new space, but Dolly, the receptionist, was incredibly friendly and helpful from the moment I arrived. She moved items that are usually in their lobby to accommodate my paintings. I feel an immediate connection to the various businesses and organizations that open up their spaces to support the Art Walk and other art exhibits. It’s a wonderful example of art bringing the community together. If I hadn’t done Art Walk, I probably would not have met Dolly. We had a bit of a challenge with the business name on the windows, but I think the exhibit came out very nicely. Dolly was such a great help throughout the Art Walk week.

Friday, June 1 was the official kick off of Art Walk. There was an artist reception at The Colonial Corner next to the Colonial Theater where artists could meet each other and enjoy light refreshments and live music. I am always a little nervous before events like this, but I met many nice people with interesting stories of art and other things. After the reception artists were to stand in front of their windows and chat with people who stopped by. I was amazed by how many people were out on this lovely Friday evening looking at the art, asking questions, and pointing out favorite pieces. It felt like a festival with various musicians set up playing on the sidewalks as well. The two hours flew by! I felt I had been a part of a very special community event.

On Friday, June 9, I participated in the Paint Out day of Art Walk. We had had lots of rain all week, and I was grateful to wake to sun and comfortable temperatures. The state road crews had been working hard since the storms and I was able to take my regular route to Keene, even though parts were still temporarily repaired with gravel. I set up my table, chair, paints, water, paper and brushes in front of Clark Mortenson, and sat down to work on a painting I had started many years, ago but never finished, of my niece when she was about 2. It turned out to be a very fun day. Staff from Clark Mortenson came out on breaks and checked out my painting progress. School groups from Keene walked with their teachers, stopping to talk to each artist and ask questions. The students were so attentive and complimentary and polite. Their questions were interesting, and I enjoyed explaining my process to them. I also talked to many other people, some running errands, some specifically enjoying the Art Walk, and some visiting from out of town. Some asked for information about commissions, and many took my business cards. Along with sharing my painting process with those who asked about it, I heard all kinds of stories from others about family, pets, art, travel plans, and interests. Just like the two hours during the opening night, the almost six hours of the Paint Out passed very quickly. I decided to take down my set up a bit early when the clouds started to darken in the west. I didn’t want to risk being caught out in a storm like the ones that had popped up each afternoon that week.

My set up in front of Clark Mortenson

Working on the painting of my niece from a favorite photo

My view towards the Colonial Theater and Brewbakers

Dark clouds starting to grow in the northwest towards Margaritas

These dark clouds over Ted's Shoe and Sport, a gusty wind, and a rumble of thunder were enough for me to pack up for the afternoon!

Participating in the Paint Out day of Art Walk in Keene was very fun, but then there was an added benefit of a gift bag from local businesses for artists who participated in the Paint Out. When I was done painting I drove down to the circle on Main Street and stopped by Creative Encounters, which was distributing the bags. In the gift bag there was an 8x10 mounted canvas from Creative Encounters, a cd of local musicians compiled by The Starving Artist, a Brewbakers coffee mug, a giant pink magnet clip (I don't know who provided it to artists, but it's great for me since I have reminder notes everywhere!), gummy butterflies from Life is Sweet and an artist's apron! I love being part of such a supportive local community where artists, citizens and businesses can come together and celebrate the joyful events in our area!

In : Art Exhibits 

Tags: arts "community support" "local business" "art walk" "monadnock region" keene  nh" 
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