Bente Torjusen receives award for Distinguished Arts Leadership

The New Hampshire State Council on the Arts is pleased to announce the winners of the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards, who will be formally honored at a gala on Oct. 21, 5-7:30 p.m. at the Capitol Center for the Arts’ Bank of New Hampshire Stage in Concord.

New Hampshire’s Governor’s Arts Awards recognize the contributions of individuals, organizations and communities that make a difference in quality of life in New Hampshire through the arts. To be eligible for nominations, individuals must reside in New Hampshire or have made significant contributions to the arts while living in New Hampshire; nominated organizations, cities and towns must be physically located in New Hampshire.

The 2019 Governor’s Arts Award winners are:

  • Arts Education: Theo Martey, Manchester
  • Arts in Health: Crotched Mountain School, Greenfield
  • Creative Communities: Town of Mason
  • Distinguished Arts Leadership: Bente Torjusen, Lebanon
  • Folk Heritage: Jane McBride Orzechowski, Newport
  • Individual Arts Champion (two awards): Stephen Duprey, Concord and Robert O. Wilson, Concord
  • Lotte Jacobi Living Treasure: Sylvia Nicolas, Mont Vernon

To learn more about the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards and to see lists of previous winners, visit

Limited tickets to the 2019 Governor’s Arts Awards event, which will include a reception with light refreshments, are available online from the Capitol Center for the Arts or by calling their box office at 603-225-1111.

Award sponsors for the event are Dartmouth-Hitchcock Health, Eversource, New England College, Northeast Delta Dental, Sanborn Mills Farm, Shannon Chandley and Tom Silvia, and Christine Dwyer. Event sponsors are Blue Orchid Interiors, Carol and Roger Brooks, the Capitol Center for the Arts, the Hotel Concord, Kelley Family Properties, O Steaks and Seafood, and WMUR.

The N.H. State Council on the Arts is a division of the Department of Natural and Cultural Resources. The State Arts Council provides a wide variety of services, competitive grants, and technical assistance to not-for-profit organizations, schools, health care facilities, and individual artists, helping to ensure that the arts thrive in New Hampshire and are accessible to all. Funding for grants and services is provided by the New Hampshire Legislature and the National Endowment for the Arts, a federal agency. Learn more at

AVA Announces New Executive Director

AVA Gallery and Art Center Appoints Heidi Reynolds as Executive Director

Lebanon, NH (October 14, 2019) The Board of Directors of AVA Gallery and Art Center today announced the appointment of Heidi Reynolds as AVA’s new Executive Director.  AVA’s Board Chair, Andrew Garthwaite stated: “The Search Committee considered many qualified applicants from across the country.  Heidi’s natural leadership qualities, her dedication to the role of the arts in the Upper Valley community and her commitment to the future of AVA made her the clear choice for Executive Director.”

Reynolds recently joined the staff at AVA as Interim Exhibition Manager in June and was retained permanently after successfully integrating into the culture at AVA. She will continue her duties as Exhibition Manager until her successor is named, assuming the Executive Director mantle from Bente Torjusen, AVA’s previous Executive Director who returned to AVA on an interim basis during the directorship search.

“I follow in the footsteps of a formidable leader and am grateful to have Bente as a mentor and guide as AVA embarks on this new chapter,” says Reynolds. “AVA is experiencing a groundswell of support since Bente spearheaded the Spring Into Summer Campaign and I intend to continue honoring AVA’s past and improving upon the traditions that make this institution the core source of support and community for visual artists and patrons in the Upper Valley and beyond.”

A life-long photographer who studied at Columbia College in Chicago, Reynolds served on the board of Fotofest in Houston, Texas, while continuing her photographic studies at Maine Media and Santa Fe Workshops. Reynolds’ family later moved from San Francisco to settle in Hanover, New Hampshire in 2004 where she continued her commitment to service as a volunteer and board member at several non-profit organizations. Most recently, Reynolds worked in development at Northern Stage, managing the corporate sponsorship and exhibiting artist programs, and at the Montshire Museum of Science, coordinating development events and managing volunteers.

Reynolds feels a strong responsibility toward supporting non-profit organizations that sustain our rich community life. “Having worked or volunteered at many Upper Valley organizations, I understand how interwoven these teams are among the lives of the people they serve. I am honored to have relationships with those who are dedicated to the arts, social services, education, and research, whether as employees, clients, members, or donors. I hope to nurture these relationships and continue to foster collaboration among as many fellow non-profits, supporting businesses, and benefactors as possible. Working together only makes us stronger.”

Valley News Article

Concord Union Leader Article

A Welcome Reception for Heidi is planned in the Gallery at AVA on Friday, November 8, 2019, from 5:30-7:00 p.m. All are welcome!

From the Executive Director

Eugene Dauphinais courtesy of photographer Jack Rowell. Virginia Rice Kelsey courtesy of the artist.

September 30, 2019

It is always a pleasure to write about the positive experiences people have had here at AVA, whether as students, gallery visitors, exhibiting artists, or as participants at our many special events. This time I’d like to do it the other way around and draw the attention to two individuals who –in different, yet related capacities—have impacted AVA in profoundly positive ways. One is Winkie Kelsey, artist and—with her husband, Preston (Pete)—patron of the arts. The other is Eugene Dauphinais, who for nearly 40 years worked at the H.W. Carter & Sons overall factory—the Lebanon landmark that now is the home of AVA.

Winkie, an accomplished sculptor, painter and photographer, has for years been the driving force behind AVA’s stone carving program. There are reasons that one of the four core studios in AVA’s Sculptural Studies Building is named “The Winkie Kelsey Stone Carving Studio.” There are also reasons why AVA’s 11 Bank Street building was renamed the Carter-Kelsey Building following the extensive 2006-2007 renovation, made possible by a $4.5 million capital campaign.

This Tuesday, October 1, at 4pm, an exhibition titled Winkie Kelsey: 64 Years of Work will open in the First Floor Gallery at Kendal at Hanover (67 Cummings Road). All proceeds from the sale of her work will benefit AVA, an organization that Winkie continues to champion for the benefit of all. The exhibition at Kendal will be on display through October 31. Thank you, Winkie for your ongoing creativity and generosity!

Eugene Dauphinais worked at the Carter Factory until it closed in 1985. In the course of his nearly four decades of cutting fabric, sewing, pressing, folding and bundling the work clothes for which the factory was noted, he also was a keen observer of all aspects of the production and collected numerous photos taken of workers and machinery. When the factory building was being renovated to suit the needs of AVA, Eugene’s route for his daily three-mile walk through Lebanon always led him to stop by 11 Bank Street to see how his former work place was being transformed into an art center. Gradually, he started bringing with him treasure troves that he donated to AVA–photographs taken over the years, and examples of clothing that had been made at the factory. All of these were ultimately included in the Historical Display area in AVA’s entrance lobby. His visits were always sparkled with fascinating insights and anecdotes that brought the history of the building alive.Eugene played a key role when AVA in 2013 hosted the Smithsonian traveling exhibition The Way We Worked, which we juxtaposed with a display of the history of work in the H.W. Carter & Sons factory. (Simultaneously, we also presented a show titled The Way We Work, featuring the artists with studios in the building; Winkie was one of them.) Eugene and his wife, Anne-Marie, became cherished regulars at exhibition openings and special events.

This past Saturday, due to health reasons, Eugene had to move from his home on Mechanic Street in Lebanon to stay with his son and daughter-in-law in Massachusetts. We will miss seeing you on your walks and on your visits, Eugene, and wish you all the best as we thank you for how you have helped connect the threads from the past with the brushstrokes of the present. Here is to the many ways of working together to support AVA and the arts!

Bente Torjusen, Interim Executive Director

New AVA Board Members

September 17, 2019

AVA Board Members paid tribute to departing Board Member Paulette Werger at the annual meeting on September 17, 2019, and also welcomed the following members:

Casey Carpenter completed his undergraduate degree in Philosophy and enlisted in the United States Air Force where he unearthed a love for the arts: literature, painting, and storytelling in particular. A graduate program at Dartmouth College brought him to the Upper Valley, and storytelling brought him to AVA Gallery, where he has served on The Mudroom committee before becoming a board member.

Christine Cook is a relative newcomer to the Upper Valley, having come to Hanover in 2016 to serve as the Chief Financial and Administrative Officer for the Thayer School of Engineering at Dartmouth College. While not an artist herself, she comes from a creative family where her children still participate in performance and fine art. Her mother in law was a water color artist, and she hopes to honor her through her work on AVA’s board.

Alan DiStasio is Chief Operating Officer of Four Seasons Sotheby’s International Realty in Hanover and has experienced the arts through many years of drumming and local courses such as Japanese brushwork, photography and modern art interpretation. He has been a supporter of AVA since moving to the Upper Valley in 2011, and his office in Hanover has served as a gallery for community members to display the work of AVA artists.

Barbara Johnson, Ed.M. is a consultant who has had a life-long exposure to the visual arts through the influence of many talented family members. Throughout her professional career in higher education administration, she had promoted sustainable organizational practices as well as environmentally friendly campus facilities and was pleased to know of AVA’s commitment in these areas. Most recently, she has helped facilitate AVA’s search for a new Executive Director.

Eunice Lee moved to the Upper Valley in 2015 and joined the law firm of Stebbins Bradley as an attorney specializing in estate planning and probate administration. She also holds a bachelor’s and master’s degree in psychology, and prior to her work in the legal sector, she worked in the field of psychology, specializing in child development and behavioral disorders. Her love of the arts was ignited during her early childhood when she began taking classes in visual and performance arts at local community centers.

Helen Shulman has an MA in mathematics, but the bulk of her pre-art career was in mental health. For the last 15 years she has been working as a professional, practicing artist. She is a 30-year member of AVA and has had a studio here for the last two. Throughout her life, the arts have remained an organizing principle. She has always taken art courses, and also worked as a potter and a weaver. She exhibits her abstract paintings in oil and cold wax nationally and has taught workshops in the medium at AVA.

George Sykes has lived in Lebanon with his wife, Jayne Buckley, for more than 30 years. He is a retired Deputy Chief of the Lebanon Fire Department who was in the department when AVA acquired the former H.W. Carter factory in 2003. He is also a Fourth-term NH State Representative and Chair of the Transportation Committee and Grafton County Delegation. He was recently appointed to the Lebanon City Council and is a longtime supporter of AVA.