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New Hampshire Art Association

Plein air artist


by Greg Morell

Artists have strong personalities, passionate and independent, and making art in most cases is a very solitary labor. Artists, usually driven by economic need, band together to form co-ops and collectives; unfortunately, the result is often short-lived.

However, this year the New Hampshire Art Association (NHAA) celebrates a 75-year history. Their membership boasts 250 members and an ample storefront gallery at 130 State Street in downtown Portsmouth, just a block from the city center.

Its 36th Annual Parfitt Open Photography Juried Exhibition (juried by Julee Holcomb) takes place from September 2 through 26, and in October, they will hold a members-only plein air showcase. Plein air painting is a mainstay of the Association and is hosted in weekly “Paint Outs” in and around the Portsmouth environs. Much of the success of the NHAA is credited to special interest sub-groups, like the Plein Air crew, that help drive the vitality of the organization.

The New Hampshire Art Association’s celebrated history is intermixed and cross-fertilized by the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, which predates it by just a few years. Both of these longstanding institutions were brought about by FDR’s Works Progress Association (WPA). The two organizations share a common mission: “To encourage, nurture and promote the creation, use and preservation of fine contemporary and traditional arts and craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community.”

A tribute exposition honoring the long term success of both institutions is chronicled in a superb installation through October 2 at Discover Portsmouth. A smartly redesigned former library that serves as the nexus of Portsmouth history and attractions, Discover Portsmouth houses two comfortably appointed galleries, an upstairs and a downstairs, both flooded with natural light.

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