The Hippo


May 25, 2020








A model posing in Abbott H. Thayer’s Dublin studio, on display part of “Making Places: Artist Studios in New Hampshire” at the Currier Museum of Art. Courtesy image.

“Making Places: Artist Studios in New Hampshire”

Where: Currier Museum of Art, 150 Ash St., Manchester, in the downstairs gallery
When: On view through Jan. 12, hours Sunday, Monday and Wednesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Admission: Museum admission is $15 for adults, $13 for seniors, $10 for students, $5 for youth ages 13 through 17
Contact:, 669-6144

Starring NH artists
Currier show looks at local creatives and their studios

By Kelly Sennott

 Forget the art — the Currier Museum of Art’s latest library and archives focus exhibition is all about New Hampshire artists and their work spaces. 

“Making Places: Artist Studios in New Hampshire,” on view through Jan. 12 in the downstairs gallery, explores the relationship between artists and their studios, both as places of creation and created spaces. It acts as an extension of “Mount Washington: The Crown of New England,” which identifies how the Mount Washington region caused many artists to flock to the Granite State in the mid- to late-1800s.
“Upstairs, they’re making the argument that it was really the landscape and the region. But then they stayed and formed these communities,” said Meghan Petersen, Currier librarian and archivist, during an interview at the museum. “They included visual artists, writers and philosophers, and many of them stayed for decades.”
The show starts with floor-length photos taken from glass plate negatives of painter Abbott H. Thayer’s Dublin studio in the 1890s. Most of them feature one of his favorite models, Elise Pumpelly, posing in various stances — holding olive branches, raising her arms or looking off into the distance.
“We tried to show some that would show as much of the physical space as possible. Here you can see the draping of the fabric behind the girl with her arms outstretched,” Petersen said, pointing to one of the photos. “You’re seeing behind the curtain, really.”
In a display case is a sketch by Thayer’s cousin, mural artist Barry Faulkner, whose work decorates the New Hampshire Statehouse. Beside it sits an F. Scott Fitzgerald book decorated with Thayer’s cover art, and various other items patrons wouldn’t normally see.
“When you come see [the library archives] shows, the materials are from the library and archives collection, and then we supplement that with some museum objects that would never see the light of day upstairs,” Petersen said. 
Another section looks at the state’s writing community and contains a photo of Mark Twain, taken by a Dublin photographer during the author’s 1905 stay in town, plus books by Elizabeth Yates illustrated by Nora Unwin, who stayed and worked with the author for 10 years in New Hampshire. 
At the end of the hallway, visitors will find text analyzing the historical architecture of creative spaces — what’s important in terms of light, layout, decor, inspiration and access to materials? — and a look at two modern New Hampshire artists, furniture maker Vivian Beer and painter James Aponovich.
Beer works in a downtown Manchester industrial shop, where she can easily access raw materials  like metal, cement, concrete walls and a large loading dock. Aponovich paints in one of his rural home’s spare rooms.
“I think it’s obvious, and I don’t know why entirely, but as humans, we just seem to want to have this attachment to the landscape. And there is something about New Hampshire that is very compelling. In some ways, it feels remote, but it’s not. It’s still connected enough so that artists are able to get the supplies they need and sell their work without having to travel too far, without having to go to New York,” Petersen said. “There does seem to be something about New Hampshire that keeps people here.” 

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