Your first sign that something unusual—possibly wonderful—was going on around Lebanon’s Colburn Park on Saturday, December 1 might have been the one that said: “Caution: Horses.”
Horse-drawn carriage rides, which were one part of the city’s holiday celebration, also featured visits with Santa and the park’s official tree lighting. Not far from the bundled crowds, far cozier and just as bright, AVA Gallery hosted its annual Holiday Exhibition and Open House, offering a relaxing, art-filled opportunity to welcome the season.
Right as you walked in, peace greeted you. Yes, a wall with handwritten messages of peace, all hung from twine, encouraged visitors to leave a message of their own or to take one as they went. And exploring AVA further, a sense of peace followed you, through every room on every floor, where chance after chance to engage with local art and artists seemed to be waiting.
Overheard at one point in the long first-floor hall: “AVA is like a real-life Advent calendar today.” Each doorway opened to some new delight.
Entering the main gallery you found a beautiful showroom and marketplace with an inspiring variety of artworks by staff and member artists, from painted canvases and sculptures to handmade ornaments and fine jewelry, all available for purchase—a sale that continues seven days a week through December 24, guaranteed to be the most pleasant holiday shopping experience anywhere in the Upper Valley.
A steady stream of visitors wove in and out of artist studios on the second and third floors, welcomed in by the artists displaying works-in-progress up close as well as finished pieces for purchase. A piano recital in the Library sent music throughout the second floor, and venturing to the top floor, you might have discovered the small exhibit of artwork created by children in Allison Zito’s weekly after-school workshop.
In the classroom studios, festive art waited to be made, whether collage ornaments or handmade cards. For the slightly more courageous, in the warmly lit North Studio, AVA faculty artist Karl Neubauer offered to sketch your portrait—that is, if you could sit very still for 20 minutes.
Heading next door into the Bente Sculptural Studies Building was like stumbling upon Santa’s Little Village, where children and grown-ups alike tinkered and toyed with everything from lumps of clay to hot metal.
Santa’s little elves were everywhere. Roger Goldenberg and his trusty apprentice, AVA’s marketing manager Alicia Bergeron, showed off a metal-manipulation process called hot forging and steel inflation. Nearby, Dudley Whitney and Chris McGrody gave a hands-on tour of woodworking implements. Stone-carvers Sandra Silverang and Heather Ritchie shared their workshop, and David Ernster and Karen Earls invited visitors to sink their fingers into clay.
All day and into evening, the holiday spirit gathered and swelled throughout AVA, as outside the horse-drawn carriage made its loop around town. Gathering coats and mittens and purchased art before departing, many paused once more at the wall of peace, to breathe, to read new messages that had been added, to take a little peace with them as they went.
Photos by Michael Seamans
By Tom Haushalter
Little treasures were too many to count at the closing party for AVA Gallery’s 2nd Annual 10×10 Exhibition and Fundraiser. In every corner, it seemed, there was something going on: food trucks, a photo booth, a live DJ, and dancing. And that’s all before you got to where the art was happening.
The event’s namesake showcase of art of was its own endless array of treasure. More than 140 works—all made using the same 10-inch by 10-inch wooden panel—created and contributed by 103 area artists covered the walls of the Members’ Gallery. On Friday, after two weeks on display at AVA, the art works were finally available for purchase at $100 a piece.
Partygoers and potential buyers might have looked like kids in a candy store—and some actually were kids—as they moved from panel to panel, admiring each one for its own colorful, often whimsical, and bite-sized take on the challenge to create something inside less than one square foot.
Mila Pinigin, AVA’s Exhibition Manager and organizer of the event, was truly impressed with the talent and range on display in the 10×10 exhibit, featuring works by professional artists and community members alike, although they were shown anonymously, encouraging partygoers to see each piece for its own sake.
Pinigin learned that some artists used the 10×10 opportunity to rekindle old techniques, such as oil painting, or to experiment with new. “One artist wanted to buy his own piece back because it’s taken him on a whole new trajectory,” she said.
And you could call the general mood in the gallery gleeful, with so many people either itching to snag the little piece of art they’d had their eye on for days or completely unable to decide which one they liked most. Some were purchasing art for the first time. Some, of course, went home with more than one.
Inside the lobby, a pop-up portrait studio gave buyers the chance to pose with their exciting new purchase—a token of gratitude for their support of AVA’s mission to make art happen in the community, through classes and workshops, exhibitions and scholarships, for people of all ages and abilities.
The fervor of the occasion held steady, even as panel after 10×10 panel came down from the wall, heading for its new home. Delicious flavors from the VT Munchies and Taco’s Tacos food trucks outside mingled with DJ Melissa’s thumping rhythms well into the evening, and it wouldn’t have been odd to catch someone dancing their way out of AVA, with a piece of art tucked beneath their arm.
If you participated in our complimentary photo booth, click here to download your portrait! (If prompted, use the password AVA10x10)
Little treasures can still be found in our Members’ Gallery–each for only $100!
Portraits by Sarah Farkas
Event Photos by Michael Seamans
April 12, 2018
By Tom Haushalter
You could hear violins and the hum of the gathered crowd even before you entered AVA Gallery and Art Center last Saturday, April 7, for its annual Silent Auction Party.
Not much was silent about this year’s auction, nor was enthusiasm in any way subdued among attendees—who included AVA members and volunteers, local artists, and community supporters—plucking hors-d’oeuvres from passing trays and sipping wine while they artfully outbid one another on a range of donated artworks that filled the gallery space.
Violinists Betty Kim and Katie Wee provided the elegant soundtrack to an event that helps to sustain and extend AVA’s mission for the arts in the Upper Valley. Paintings, mixed media works, sculpture, jewelry, and much more went home to the highest bidders, and resulted in over $40,000 raised for AVA.
Those whose walls at home are already full could choose to “Fund A Need” from a wish list of AVA opportunities and initiatives, including sending a kid to camp, hand tools for the new Bente Building, and computers for AVA’s Digital Arts Media Lab. And many needs were funded.
Measured in part by competing bids, the community’s support for AVA seemed only to grow as the night went on. And auction-goers grew less silent about what this arts organization means to them and their experience living in the Upper Valley.
Deborah Sherwood, a ceramic artist in Hartland, VT, is glad to have connected with AVA since she moved to the area two years ago. “This seems to be the place that has the most significant art to offer the area, so I’m very excited about it.”
Casey Villard of Etna, NH, who has taken a handful of art and poetry classes, remembered when he worked next door and could count on a mindful midday visit to AVA to rescue him from a bad day. “I’d come over here and my spirits would be lifted. I’d feel more expansive, the weight lifted off my shoulders.”
Kathy Rines, also of Etna, NH, and a longtime supporter who has participated in AVA silent auctions, she says, “eternally,” reflected on AVA’s place in a community quietly bursting with arts. “I think Lebanon is one of the great undiscovered spots. We have AVA for the visual arts, and for music there’s the wonderful Upper Valley Music Center. We have Opera North in the summers. It’s become an amazing cultural center.”
Roger Goldenberg, an AVA faculty artist who has been integral to the development of the new sculptural studies program, said he moved here from Portsmouth, NH, two years ago because of AVA. “A lot of people will try to tell you that Portsmouth is the arts mecca of New Hampshire,” he says, “but I think it’s the Upper Valley. And I think AVA’s the hub.”
Photos by Michael Seamans
February 22, 2018
By Tom Haushalter
Last Friday evening, AVA’s main gallery space quickly filled up with people of all ages. Some arrived by the yellow school bus-full. All came to celebrate the artists whose work was selected for the 10th Annual Best of the Upper Valley High School Exhibition.
Featuring 140 works of art from 139 artists representing 16 different high schools in the Upper Valley, the exhibition is an impressive showcase of the breadth and depth of creative young talent in our region.
The gallery on Friday was tinged with anticipation as the artists, their families, and friends awaited the awards ceremony, announcing the winners and honorable mentions in each of 14 categories, from analog photography and painting to woodworking and wearable art.
Patrick Dunfey, Head of Exhibitions Design and Planning at the Hood Museum of Art, juried this year’s exhibition. In his remarks, reflecting on how much fun he had spending time with “so much great work,” Dunfey encouraged all the artists, winners or not, to “take a moment to think of the accomplishment of being part of this show.”
And because art is an act of sharing and community, Dunfey urged everyone, “Tonight if you see work you really like, find the artist and introduce yourself and share that with them.”
AVA congratulates this year’s High School Exhibition winners in each category:
BEST OF AWARDS
Analog Photography – Ryan Blackden, Newport High School, Grade 12
Black and White – Rachel Xia, Kimball Union Academy, Grade 10
Ceramics – Yuhe Zheng, Kimball Union Academy, Grade 12
Digital Art – Caleb Hazelton, Lebanon High School, Grade 11
Digital Photography – Mina Nguyen, Holderness High School, Grade 11
Digital Photography – Quinter Johnson, Newport High School, Grade 9
Drawing – Hannah Young, Thetford Academy, Grade 12
Best Environmental Message – Ethan Trombley, Newport High School, Grade 10
Mixed Media – Sean Gaherty, Ledyard Charter School, Grade 11
Painting – Tobias Bannister-Parker, Proctor Academy, Grade 12
Portraiture – Camie Rediker, Woodstock Union High School, Grade 12
Printmaking – Jacob Slaughter, Thetford Academy, Grade 11
Sculpture – Olivia Kinnett, Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Grade 12
Wearable Art – Coreen Carley, Kimball Union Academy, Grade 12
Woodworking/Design – Andrew Harrell, Proctor Academy, Grade 11
Black and White – Artemis Tangalidou, Thetford Academy, Grade 12
Leah Kaliski, Thetford Academy, Grade 12
Ceramics – Eliza Goodell, Oxbow High School, Grade 12
Eric Hazen, Hartford High School, Grade 11
Megan Jette, Mascoma Valley Regional High School, Grade 12
Digital Art -Emma Duranceau, Hartford High School, Grade 11
Lizzy Pierce, Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, Grade 11
Digital Photography – Evaline Huntley, Hartford Area Career and Technology Center, Grade 11
Drawing – Hannah Zhang, Kimball Union Academy, Grade 10
Ingrid Cole-Johnson, Proctor Academy, Grade 10
Neve Monroe-Anderson, Hanover High School, Grade 11
Best Environmental Message – Carley Malloy, Thetford Academy, Grade 12
Emily Surrell, Woodstock Union High School, Grade 12
Mixed Media – Baylie Ordway, Rivendell Academy, Grade 12
Megan Smith, Hanover High School, Grade 11
Painting – Anna Krajewski, Proctor Academy, Grade 12
Annie Zhao, Lebanon High School, Grade 11
Cameron Eaton, Stevens High School, Grade 11
Poppy Tans, The Sharon Academy, Grade 10
Victoria Tillman, Stevens High School, Grade 10
Portraiture – Emily Lyons, Lebanon High School, Grade 12
Megan Graber, Thetford Academy, Grade 12
Printmaking – Bea Green, Rivendell Academy, Grade 12
Falcon Jaacks, Hanover High School, Grade 10
Sculpture – Alden Sawyer, Holderness High School, Grade 10
Odin Mattern, Hartford High School, Grade 12
Sam Wyckoff, Proctor Academy, Grade 11
Wearable Art – Carly Miliken, Kimball Union Academy, Grade 10
Phoebe Altman, Hanover High School, Grade 11
Woodworking/Design – Alex Kaupp, Proctor Academy, Grade 12
The High School Exhibition runs until March 9 at AVA Gallery and Art Center. Here are just a few of the works to discover and enjoy:
“Fissure” by Yuhe Zheng, grade 12, Kimball Union Academy (Photo: Tom Haushalter)
“Dad” by Camie Rediker, grade 12, Woodstock Union High School (Photo: Tom Haushalter)
“Untitled” by Jessica Gravel, grade 10, Mascoma Valley Regional High School (Photo: Tom Haushalter)
“Untitled” by Poppy Tans, grade 10, The Sharon Academy (Photo: Tom Haushalter)
Photos ©Michael Seamans unless otherwise noted