The Hippo


May 28, 2020








Yusuf Abudi and a sample of the framed photographs that will be featured at the Gallery at the Wall. This sample passed the durability test; it was left outdoors for a year. Courtesy photo.

Attend the grand opening

Where: Rotary Park Common, 315 Main St., Nashua
When: Saturday, May 10, at 1 p.m.
What: Mayor Donnalee Lozeau will preside at the ribbon-cutting ceremony, and the Stagecoach women’s chorus will add music. The event will end with a walk of the labyrinth.

First in the nation?
Nashua’s first outdoor art gallery

By Kelly Sennott

 On Wednesday, April 30, the wall at Rotary Common in Nashua was smooth, bare and a bit damp from that morning’s rain. Its function at the time was to provide a solid divide between the Adult Learning Center and the city’s Reflection Garden and Labyrinth; the wall had only recently been restored, and thus far, it was performing perfectly. 

But in a week’s time, there would be a new function for the wall: Saturday, May 10, it becomes part of an outdoor gallery, the first in the state, but also perhaps the first in the country.
“There are other forms of art in parks, but there are no galleries like this, celebrating the city’s past and present,” Yvonne Dunetz said in a phone interview.
The outdoor gallery has been two years in the making, a dream child of Dunetz, business owner and chair of the founding committee — she led the way in raising the $130,000 to build the labyrinth and reflection garden on the outskirts of the Learning Center in 2010, and she imagined the concept and rallied the community (and the funds) to support the art, too.
The 180-foot wall will showcase 17 photographs by Amherst photographer Yusuf Abudi. These images depict historic and current scenes of Nashua, with special attention to the city’s architecture. Many of the pictures were taken while Abudi was milling around the city during the early morning, just as dawn causes the city’s colors to change rapidly.
“One of the things I do on weekends, and whenever we have free time, my wife and I drive around in a 27-year-old convertible Miata. We take the camera and explore the area. We stop at different places when we see something of interest,” Abudi said.
It takes many trips to get it right; how cloudy the skies are makes for different coloring and different moods. He uses a high dynamic range technique that allows him to take seven to 11 shots at different exposures and then superimpose them into one piece.
“I love the mill buildings. I think the architecture of the industrial era is very vibrant in the way it presents itself. There’s detail here you don’t necessarily see on newer architecture. It’s hidden unless you look for it,” Abudi said.
Abudi and his wife own a management consulting firm, but he owns a photography company as well. Dunetz told him about her idea, her vision for the outdoor gallery, when, during a visit at his home, she saw some of his work plastered on his walls.
“She told me about the idea and asked if I was interested,” Abudi said. “But when I went to meet her at the Adult Learning Center, there was a 180-foot wall, and my heart dropped. [He laughed.] It wasn’t exactly a flat wall, and it wasn’t a straight wall. There was a grade to it, and it was pretty lengthy.”
The photos will be printed on specialty canvas with a glossy finish, meant not to fade, and also coated with anti-graffiti material. They’ll be mounted to the wall in custom wood frames with acrylic protecting the images, Dunetz explained in a follow-up email. The west side of the wall will hold five photo collages of Nashua’s history, and the east side, 12 framed photographs of Nashua today. It’s Dunetz’s hope that, every two years, this gallery will make room for new artists’ work.
To test out these frames, Abudi encapsulated a piece of art last year and left it outside. There was no damage to the original piece, which he hopes is a positive sign for the new space.
Dunetz came up with the gallery idea shortly after the garden’s completion in 2010. The park is already home to three sculptural pieces made through the city’s annual symposium, and the wall was in plain view from the park benches.
The only problem was that the wall, at the time, was crumbling, uneven, and replacement would likely be expensive. But she was in luck; the Adult Learning Center had already been looking to repair the wall with a community development block grant.
“It’s very exciting to me, that this will be a continuing aspect of the celebration of the arts and history of the greater Nashua community. It will live in the park. … It’s kind of like a legacy we’re weaving into our community,” Dunetz said. 
Visually, this is the last step in the park’s completion, she says, but she sees much more happening here. She’d like to see it become part of art walks and culture tours, concerts and performing arts showcases.
As seen in the May 8th issue of the Hippo.

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