Art when you're *broke

Since Wordpress conveniently deleted my last post outlining gallery impressions in Portland I want to throw in this rundown: Greenhut Gallery is welcoming and has some really great art up, Susan Maasch Fine Art reliably shows excellent work, and the past shows at SPACE were really awesome (We Build Excitement by Jesse Sugarman and Standard by Karen Gelardi). Now that I know a few hours of writing can be summed up in less than two sentences, I'll move into last weekend's adventures with Sarah and our friend Rachel.

The sun was just barely filtering through our windows as I crept into Sarah's room. Placing my phone on her dresser, I pressed play and let the stylings of Eddie Murphy do their work. She made a sleepy entrance from her room ten minutes before we had planned on leaving and in fifteen we stumbled to her car and sleepily started the journey to Peterborough, New Hampshire for *broke arts fair.

Sarah setting up her table; we were one of the first to get there!

Organized by the non-profit The Glass Museum, the art fair featured a slew of different artists selling work for $50 or under. Rachel and I helped Sarah set up her table before we headed off to a local coffeshop/bookstore for breakfast and caffeine. The rest of the day we spent wandering an adorable sort of provincial town, weaving between the crowded tables of the fair and meeting a number of lovely creative individuals. The adventure ended with the three of us cuddled in our own box pews in the Unitarian Universalist Church, watching the beautiful musical stylings of Nat Baldwin and Arc Iris.

The gathering of varied media and artistic style was thrilling. The fair boasted hand-printed t-shirts, beautiful ceramics (by a woman who patiently taught me as a preteen), gold jewelry, and a host of other creative items (obviously including Sarah's stuffed items). All of these artists were local - most of them from the sparsely populated rural area around Manchester, NH. The idea of so many talented creatives in the area wasn't surprising, given the astounding beauty of the old mill towns and the forests between them, but to see them all together was really inspiring. It was something you wouldn't find in a traditional gallery setting, even if some of the artists could (probably did) exhibit as such. The chance to interact with the artists, chat about art or the upcoming winter, was also invaluable. Having been immersed in creative activity for the day, I couldn't end it without delving into my own efforts. The concert at the end was the perfect opportunity; the excess of space allowed me to take over a pew.

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Creativity on a large scale is aggressively contagious and I am constantly impressed with the efforts of organizations like the Glass Museum to recognize and capitalize on this fact. Arts non-profits working to combine many different styles of artistic expression have recently increased in scope and popularity, at least in the upper New England area. Many such organizations are established in Maine, and the opening of 3S in Portsmouth will hail the entrance of a multi-dimensional artistic space in Seacoast New Hampshire (with food!). These groups bring a sense of cooperation and community to artistic effort. They show how different forms of artistic expression feed on each other; I've written before about how the a community of people devoted to creation is an important element in perpetuating artistic dedication.

I'm excited to see where the efforts of these organizations take the New England art scene; determined to seek out such groups in my travels.With such different attitudes in every area, I'm curious how culture will effect how they go about achieving a similar mission. I want to see how other parts of the country devote themselves the intersection of music, visual arts, and a huge focus on community engagement. Maybe after that, I'll see about the rest of the world.

Links to the Non-Profits:

SPACE Gallery - Portland

Engine - Biddeford

The Glass Museum - Peterborough

3S Artspace - Portsmouth

If you know any others please post them in the comments!