Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Merrry Christmas from 263 Art Gallery!

Nashua art gallery celebrating artists who exhibited there in 2011
                                                          Published: Thursday, December 15, 2011

NASHUA – It has been said that art is the international language, crossing all cultures and creeds.
That certainly holds true at the 263 Art Gallery, as a cosmopolitan group of artists will be gathering for “Holiday Celebrations,” commemorating the wide number of practitioners who have exhibited at the gallery over the last year.
The reception, which will take place from 3-6 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 18, will feature works by Marilene Sawaf, Hsui Norcott, Albine Vermot Gaude, Gay Gawron, Suzanne Binnie and Alene Sirott-Cope, of Hollis; Pat Steiner, of Nashua; Jacqui Hawk, of Dunstable, Mass.; and Donna Howard, of Burlington, Mass.
Many of these artists hail from different parts of the globe: Sawaf is from Lebanon, Norcott from China, Hawk from Scotland and Vermot Gaude from France.
“The gallery has been in business for over a year,” said Hawk, who helps with publicity. “Every month, we have an Artist of the Month exhibit. This is the end-of-the-year celebration, featuring all of the artists who have exhibited here over the year.
“We’re inviting the public to a wine and cheese reception, where they can meet with the artists and discuss their work.”
The approaches that the artists bring to their productions are as varied as their origins, Hawk said.
“I’m a mixed-media artist,” she said. “I work with anything involving texture – wax, glass, decoupage, modeling clay. Marilene, on the other hand, is an oil painter, Hsui paints with oil on silk and Donna is a very whimsical artist.”
Hawk says one of the aims of the gallery is to promote local artists and their work.
“I don’t know why, but there’s a real resurgence in purchasing original art,” she said. “I personally have sold 33 paintings this year, which is quite significant for an emerging artist. There’s definitely an upward swing, which is so encouraging given this tough economy.”
Given that 10 percent of all sales at the reception will be donated to the Humane Society for Greater Nashua, it’s only natural that one of the exhibitors, Sirott-Cope, should have made a vocation out of creating pet portraits.
“I started in professional graphic design and somehow ended up in pottery,” she said. “After that, I switched to making jewelry, and that was my profession for a while. Recently, though, I’ve been focusing on pets, including dogs and cats.”
This sort of subject matter makes an ideal holiday gift, Sirott-Cope said.
“I get a lot of work over the holiday season,” she said. “I have three dogs myself, so it was kind of a natural thing to combine my love of pets with my art. I believe that the 263 Gallery has about eight or nine of these pieces on display right now.”
The move into pet portraiture is a new thing for Sirott-Cope, as she started producing them only over last summer.
“I was admiring the work of some of my friends, who work strictly in oils or acrylics, and this inspired me to go into the fine arts myself,” she said. “But instead of painting portraits, I decided to combine painting with Photoshop. I just fell in love with the idea of portraying these little stories that people have around their pets.”
Sirott-Cope discovered there was a definite need for pet owners to reconnect with their companions that have died.
“I had one customer who had a pet that had passed away, and he wanted to memorialize him by having a multimedia portrait,” she said. “Prior to that, I had just been creating portraits for people who loved their cats and dogs. Now, however, I’m getting work from those who want to remember their pets in this way.
“I thought that it was such a good idea that I portrayed two of my own pets in this manner.”
Sirott-Cope’s approach to the work is a combination of technology and fine art techniques.
“What I do is to take a photo that I either scan or someone e-mails me,” she said. “I open it in Photoshop, filter it a couple of different ways and print it out in color. Then I go over it with colored pencils and finish it off with pastels. After that, I’ll either mount it on a tile or a piece of board and pour resin over the top.
“When the resin dries, the piece looks like it’s covered with glass. Not only does that protect the artwork, but it also gives it a nice finish. I then fit it with wire for hanging and ornament it with little ceramic bones. That gives the piece a nice whimsical feel.”
The artists in the exhibition are heavily involved in community outreach, Hawk said, and are finding creative ways to bring arts into the public arena. One recent event was organized by Art-Reach, a Philadelphia-based organization devoted to bringing the arts to under-served audiences. Each year, its programs enable more than 15,000 people with disabilities or economic disadvantages to gain exposure to artistic activities.
“Through Art-Reach, all of the artists painted a 6-foot by 6-foot mural in the lobby of St. Joseph Hospital in Nashua,” Hawk said. “The objective was to promote art in the context of a healing environment.
“In another event, Donna Howard and I painted a series of bras that were auctioned off to benefit the Breast Cancer Foundation.”
Hawk sees the efforts of the artists have made a definite stride toward exposing the public to all that the fine arts have to offer.
“The main thing is that the 263 Gallery has really put art on the map,” she said. “It encourages artists to pursue their dreams and connect with the community as a whole.”
Eric Stanway can be reached at or

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