Friday, May 28, 2010

Arts Accolades & Festival Weekends

Are you an Alliance member with a special event or program coming up that could use a little more publicity? Let me know and I'll post information here and send a blast out on our Facebook page. I'm looking for out-of-the ordinary programs or individual accomplishments. I'd also like to hear about artists and entrepreneurs, and about businesses and creative places where you go for inspiration or services. You get the idea! The Arts Alliance is a community of artists and arts supporters, entrepreneurs and creative enterprises – if you're part of that community, or want to be, send me your thoughts and your news. 

Kelly Bryer honored by state Travel Council: The Arts Alliance's webmaster extraordinaire Kelly Bryer, owner of Maplewood Technology, was honored by the New Hampshire Travel Council this month for her contributions to the travel industry. The Advertising and Public Relations award was presented to Kelly at the 34th Annual Governor's Conference on Tourism in Portsmouth. Kelly has provided services primarily to nonprofit organizations, like the Arts Alliance, through her Thornton-based marketing firm for more than a decade. Maplewood specializes in content management systems and outbound internet marketing; visit for more information.

Portrait of a Wabanaki bead artist: Arts Alliance member and Wabanaki bead artist Rhonda Besaw (www.rhondabesaw.comis having a very busy spring. She's an excellent example of an artist who has worked hard at her craft and is always open to new opportunities. Rhonda recently sat for her portrait (image above) for artist Gerry Biron, who is doing a series of paintings of Northeast Woodland Indian beadworkers. Note the squirrel he put on her shoulder and the raven flying overhead. He also used the fiddlehead designs from her beaded purse to add to her shirt. As Rhonda says, "It's amazing where these little beaded purses have led me!"

You can see an example of one of her purses at the Northern Light: Variations on a Theme art exhibit at the new Fiddleheads gallery ( in Colebrook through June 5. Rhonda is one of 28 northern New Hampshire artists whose work was selected for the juried exhibit. Bette Guerin and her husband, Ron, are using the new space at the back of their store to highlight the work of area artists. In addition to the Northern Light exhibit, the gallery currently features a Small Works show by members of CRAG – the Connecticut River Artisans Guild. Bette is a strong supporter of the arts – she's on the board of the Great North Woods Committee for the Arts ( and has recently joined the Arts Alliance board.

Rhonda Besaw will be demonstrating beadwork techniques over Memorial Day weekend at The Balsams (  Stop by and meet her and seven other artists and craftspeople, enjoy live music (including Roland Cotnoir and Patrick Ross), food, beverage, and entertainment for the kids. Rhonda's bags are also included in the Spirit of the Maker exhibit at the League of NH Craftsmen's Gallery 205 in Concord
The woven tapestries of Sarah Warren of Jefferson are in the League exhibit, too, and one of her pieces is in the Northern Light show. (

ArtSpider blogger: Artist Michele Johnsen of Columbia, another artist featured in the Northern Light exhibit (and the Small works show!) is a featured blogger on the site, devoted to artists of all persuasions living and working in New Hampshire.

Lisbon Lilac Festival is this weekend: Don't miss the Lisbon Lilac Festival, now in its 27th year. The fun begins on Friday evening, May 28, with the carnival opening. Saturday's line-up includes the parade at 11 a.m., music in the gazebo, lots of local food, crafters, a dunk tank, and antique and classic cars, all in downtown Lisbon. The annual Memorial Walk takes place beginning at 10 a.m. on Sunday, from the White Church on South Main Street. There will also be entertainment at Chevron Park. The weekend wraps up with fireworks on Sunday evening. For details, contact Lisbon Main Street, Inc. at 603-838-2200 or

Profile Awards: Arts Alliance Executive Director Frumie Selchen, last year's individual recipient of a Profile Award, presented by the Old Man of the Mountain Legacy Fund, was recognized on May 16 during the 2010 awards celebration. She presented the individual award to this year's winner, John Harrigan of Colebrook; Copper Cannon Camp of Franconia was presented with the organization award; and the Lake Sunapee area towns of New London, Newbury and Sunapee were honored with the community award. (

Thursday, May 20, 2010

What's Your Inspiration?

This quote by David Whyte is posted on the wall next to my computer:  "Give up all worlds except the one to which you belong."
That's how I felt last fall when, after a 20-year career in the newspaper business, I decided it was time to change hats and devote more time to something near and dear to my heart: the arts.

Some background. I'm an artist and an arts administrator, but I began my career in the arts in a decidedly unprofessional way - as an inquisitive child and a vandal!

As a girl growing up in Manchester in the 1950s I lived 7 or 8 blocks away from the Currier Gallery of Art, which is now the Currier Museum. It was a beautiful building surrounded by trees and flowers and grass, and very appealing to someone who lived in a brick tenement building and played kick the can or hide and go seek in the alley.

Every so often my friends and I would head for the museum. It always impressed me that the two elderly women and the elderly gentleman who worked there were so welcoming. Here we were, bratty kids, probably pretty dirty in our shorts and sneakers. Yet they never kicked us out, never told us not to touch the paintings and sculptures and always seemed glad to see us. I loved the glass exhibit – all the colored pieces set out on sparkling glass shelves. Another favorite was a miniature room set behind a window in one of the sub-basements. We had to stand on a wooden box to see into it and marveled at the teeny, tiny pieces of furniture.

The best part of the museum was outside. An enormous, 20-foot-high and 20-foot-wide mosaic flanked the carved wooden front doors. Called The Arts, it depicted famous men in ancient history and literature – Cicero, Sophocles, Plato, Demosthenes. Back in the ‘50s the mosaic was in disrepair and the glass tiles were falling apart. It was easy to pick them off – and we did – throwing the colored pieces into the reflecting pool. We knew we were naughty but not too concerned – what we didn't know was that we were throwing away pieces of a great work of art!

Fortunately, the mosaics have been restored and are now part of the museum's Winter Garden. If you haven't visited the Currier yet you should – it's a world-class museum with a wonderful art collection – including those mosaics!

Fast forward 50 years or so – I'm now a mosaic artist, working with recycled materials, as well as the assistant director of the Arts Alliance of Northern New Hampshire.

I haven't forgotten my roots as a child hungry for beauty and unexpected treasures. That's why I'm excited and proud to work for the Arts Alliance: we make arts and cultural opportunities available to thousands of people each year, many of whom would not otherwise be exposed to music, dance, literature, or the visual arts. I want others to experience the joy I felt as a young girl – and continue to feel -- by connecting them with the many creative and cultural endeavors under way in our region.

My early experiences at the Currier were my introduction to the arts and the inspiration for what I do today. What's your story? Are you an artist or an arts supporter? Can you remember what first sparked your creativity and imagination? Where do you find your inspiration today? I'd love to hear from you!!