This Season’s Art Experience
By JP Goodwin
The Summer of 2023 looks to be an exciting arts experience around the Mt. Washington Valley and beyond, with a rich heritage and a wealth of diverse artists and artisans plying their trades at every turn in shows, exhibits, and festivals.
Some opportunities to participate in traditional arts festivals include the granddaddy of all, Art in the Park, celebrating the arts in this format for over 50 years, sponsored by the Mt. Washington Valley Arts Association (MWVArts), headquartered in North Conway.
This year’s event, months in the planning and run mostly by volunteers, will be held on August 5 and 6. Guests wander through displays of, perhaps, 50 artists and artisans whose work covers a broad range of mediums. Due to weather issues the past two times out, the MWVArts has chosen to move into the North Conway Community Center beside Schouler Park.
There will always be food trucks, music, judged art and fine craft with ribbons, and cash prizes awarded for exceptional work. It is a unique opportunity to admire and/or purchase a treasure in any price range imaginable.
On July 15 in Bridgton, Maine, Gallery 302 also has an Art in the Park, which they have hosted for about 20 years. Similar to that of the MWVArts, they open the event to many artists and artisans who buy booth space to offer their work for browsers and sales. Both these events are a great way to spend the day, learning about the works and the artists who create them, perhaps collecting a special piece. Gallery 302 has a rain date of July 16 at Shorey Park, if mother nature is not cooperating on Saturday.
There is a weekend in July that is filled with art, and well worth two stops, at least, in the Valley. The Summer Show, sponsored by Chocorua Creative Arts Center at the ArtWorks Gallery and held in Runnells Hall from July 28 to 30, is an invitational area-wide display and sale of striking work. Entirely volunteer-driven, this is sure to be a great show. In conjunction with the celebration of Chocorua Days, a town-wide festival, the opening reception with live music and refreshments is a great way to preview the exhibit and meet the artists on Friday, July 28 from 5 to 8 p.m. The show continues Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. all at Runnells Hall, located at Route 113 and the intersection with Route 16 in Chocoura Village.
Continue north to take in the Jackson Art Studio and Gallery Pop-Up Art Show at the Whitney Community Center, Route 16A, Black Mountain Road in Jackson, where over 30 artists—locally and nationally known—will exhibit their work for you on July 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. It’s sure to be a feast for the eyes and an enlightening experience.
During Old Home week, August 10, there is also an Artisans Exhibit on the town green in Sandwich, NH on Route 113. It is a festive celebration of the Village of Sandwich and the arts, and a great spot to stroll among talented craftspeople and see the unusual and fine work of our local communities.
Later this fall, the Jackson Historical Society has a unique show of mostly 19th and early 20th-century works by some of the well-known White Mountain artists, several of whom were also known for their Hudson River School pieces. They also have some select pieces by contemporary artists who practice their craft in the traditional 19th-century style. This event is well worth a look, especially during foliage season in Jackson, NH.
It is a huge months-long undertaking by these associations and businesses to stage exhibits and sales where most labor is volunteer, where artists and artisans are welcomed with work and its display components. But the creators themselves also spend months or longer considering subjects, mediums, awaiting good light, presentation, and hanging systems to best present their work in the allotted display space. After the hours and months artists spend creating a piece, framing or building a display stand, labeling, pricing, and packing, they eventually set up a booth that pleases them. They invest a huge amount of time and energy to bring you a chance to appreciate the beauty and intrigue of their efforts.
Please come for a look, admire the work, and enjoy a feast for the eyes. It is why we paint or draw, carve, weave, mold, weld, or otherwise re-imagine a piece of paper, canvas, metal, clay, or fiber, to share a vision that brings us happiness. We will be there for you, so stop by.
Most require no prior experience and will bring you joy. Workshop schedules are offered on the websites at www.jacksonartnh.com, www.chocoruaartworks.com, www.mwvarts.org and through other galleries. Find contact information in the listing and come play with us … you will love the experience!
Whether it’s as an admirer or a creator, make your summer a memorable art adventure here in the Valley. It’s an experience you will not soon forget.
JP Goodwin, past president of the MWVArts, former director of Art in the Park, and present board member and treasurer of Chocorua Creative Arts Center and ArtWorks Gallery, art instructor, and facilitator of the Friday Painters Group, can frequently be found around the Valley creating and exhibiting. Raised on the North Shore of MA, where she painted and taught extensively, she has been coming to the Valley since 1950 and painting here since the 1990s.