Area artists Open Doors for public

Anyone who lives in the Granite State knows there is a burgeoning arts community out here. Literally thousands of artists toil in their studios every day, producing a bewildering array of arts, crafts and quality foods.

The work of these artisans will be celebrated on the weekend of Nov. 8 and 9, during the NH Open Doors event. At this time, members of the public will be given a rare chance to see the creative geniuses at work, discuss their inspirations and techniques, and purchase some locally produced artwork, just in time for the holiday season.

“This is a really big event,” said Elaine Farmer, owner of White Birch Fine Art Studios in Amherst. “Originally, it started as a program hosted by the New England League of Craftsmen. Then, they started collaborating with another group, NH Made, and created NH Open Doors. Basically, this is a state-wide event, sort of like a pub crawl, for lack of better terminology. I would call it an artisan crawl, really.”

Farmer said that the list of artisans is extensive, and encompasses a wide range of disciplines.

“There’s everything from candle makers to fine art, and everything in between,” she said, “including farmers, cheese makers, and alpaca farmers. Really, it’s all-
inclusive, involving anything made in New Hampshire.”

The White Birch Fine Art Studio, at 20 Brook Road, will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. on both days. In addition to the artwork of Elaine Farmer, wood bowls will be on sale by Bernie Rozmovits, of Milford, stained glass creations by Carol and Michael Domingue of Hancock and mosaics by Linda Jarousky. Elaine Farmer will also have her book “Harmonious Color Schemes; a no-nonsense approach using the Color Wheel” available for purchase at a special first-run discount with a book-signing option. Visitors will also be encouraged to paint on a collaborative painting at the studio.

Farmer sees hopeful signs within the arts community that might indicate a general turnaround in the economy.

“I know a number of fine artists who are actually participating this year, having backed off in the past,” she said. “I hope that’s a sign of a change of events as far as the economy is concerned, and the artists are feeling that the market is there for them to do that. Additionally, those artists who do not have studios of their own are collaborating with those that do, so the range of exposure is that much higher.”

Other collaborating artists can be found at East Colony Fine Art Gallery, at 55 South Commercial St. in Manchester. During the weekend, visitors can purchase items made here in New Hampshire, talk with artists and craftspeople in their studios, sample fresh products from farm stands and orchards, and savor fine cuisine and wine at local restaurants. There will also be special activities on hand, including craft demonstrations and workshops, horse-and-buggy rides, food samplings, and more.

“I’m actually a part of the East Colony Fine Arts Gallery as well,” Farmer said, “and I would like to think that it was partly due to my encouragement that they came on board.”

The tour is self-guided, so visitors can create their own driving routes and visit the participants and locations that interest them. To help visitors plan their self-guided tour, the NH Open Doors website – www.nhopen
doors.com – will feature an interactive map listing participants by region. Each listing will describe what each participant will be offering, and a custom-designed Google map showing the location of each participant with detailed driving directions. The website also features recommended itineraries suggested by NH Open Doors participants that highlight different areas of the state.

The NH Open Doors Passport Contest provides visitors with another reason to take the tour – they can win great prizes. Visitors can download an NH Open Doors Passport from the NH Open Doors website to take with them on their tours. For the contest, you must visit 10 NH Open Doors locations and have the participant sign and date your passport. Those who visit ten locations during NH Open Doors will be automatically entered to win free lodging, gift certificates, gift baskets, fine craft, and more. NH Open Doors is managed by the League of NH Craftsmen with promotional assistance from numerous art, craft, and business organizations throughout the state. The League of NH Craftsmen (www.nhcrafts.org) is a non-profit arts organization that encourages, nurtures and promotes the creation, use and preservation of fine craft through the inspiration and education of artists and the broader community.

“This is a great way to kickoff the Christmas shopping season,” Farmer said. “People can buy New Hampshire products, and support the local arts and the local economy. I think that, sometimes, people are intimidated by the idea of visiting a studio, as this is our workplace. This takes it totally out of that sphere, and creates a welcoming atmosphere, where the community can really connect with the artists, and see what is going on right in their own neighborhood.”

For more information on New Hampshire Open Doors, visit www.nhopendoors.com.