by Donna Dodson
Not everyone can make their dreams come true. It takes hard work, careful planning and perseverance. Rose Bryant not only has what it takes — she has infected others with her vision for a vibrant art community in Exeter, New Hampshire.
Bryant taught private art classes in her home studio in Exeter for 10 years. She created a community of artists by hosting outdoor shows, pop-up art exhibits and open houses. Wanting to find a permanent home for her transient community of artists, she began to look for a building in town. When the former teen center became vacant, she and her husband purchased the building at 120 Front Street in Exeter in September 2016. Art Up Front Street opened as a for-profit venture in December 2016.
Here are some of the people that make up the Art Up Front Street community:
ROSE BRYANT is a painter and founder of Art Up Front Street. She loves to use vibrant colors in her artwork. The New England landscape is Bryant’s main source of inspiration. Her work teeters on the edge of realism and abstraction. Currently there are six resident artists in addition to Rose, and there are currently two openings for new members.
BECKY BARSI is a multimedia artist whose background is in black and white photography. Her MFA work explored themes of emotion and power, but her current work is playful, colorful and evocative. Barsi is the co-chair of the Creative Arts Department at the Derryfield School in Manchester, New Hampshire, where she teaches visual arts classes and manages the Lyceum Gallery.
GABY GROSSMAN is a Jill of all trades: a painter, a mother of three and an activist. She is turning her talents towards the political area in 2018 and campaigning for a seat in the New Hampshire House of Representatives.
ANNE KENNY is the inventor of Industrial Quilts. She uses circuit boards, copper wire and bronze screen to create her multimedia assemblages. The Amoskeag Textile Mill history in New Hampshire and the “mill girls” inspire her work. Kenny’s quilts have been exhibited at the Museum of Arts and Design and the American Craft Museum in New York, as well as the Currier Museum of Art and the Hood Museum of Art in New Hampshire.
WO SCHIFFMAN is a painter who studied at the Cleveland Institute of Art and at San Francisco State University. “Inspired by images of galaxies beyond our realm and the natural environments of our own planet, I paint with encaustic and mixed-media on paper, wood and canvas,” she said. Her current exhibit in the gallery, “Winter Dreams,” is vibrant and eye-catching.
DEB WHEELER-BEAN is an artist and educator at Lincoln Street School in Exeter. She has been working with fifth grade classes since 2002 to create class “gifts.” In 2017, they created artwork in the school for the “Three Gates,” based on the Sufi proverb: “Before you speak, let your words pass through three gates. Ask yourself: are my words true? Are my words kind? Are my words necessary?”
A very special permanent work of public art was designed for this project by the Seacoast School of Technology. The final step in 2018 is adding the text of the three questions to the large wooden gates: “Is it true? Is it kind? Is it necessary?” The text will be designed and created by Dawn Amey, an artist at Art Up Front Street who specializes in laser printing.
Rose Bryant is proof that one person can make a difference. Art Up Front Street is a living example of the power of community. By working side by side, collaborating and creating art, the sky is the limit. For more information visit artupfrontstreet.blogspot.com.