Tuesday, August 20, 2019

A Day for the Arts

Photo: A sculpture installation of tiny houses by Patricia Woodbridge
 in between tents for viewers to see. Photo by Bynn Shen.
League of NH Craftsmen, Sunapee, NH 
As a summer intern for the NH State Council on the Arts, I had been in the office every day from 8:30AM–4:00PM working on various projects assigned to me whether they dealt with the grant panels or designing for conference graphics and bag designs. While I enjoyed learning the ins and outs of the council and designing work, I jumped at the opportunity to attend the League of NH Craftsmen fair in Sunapee, NH. Just for a day, I could stroll around and see what the artists had to offer with my parents. It was a break from work which you all could probably sympathize with me.

Photo: This copper pizza oven provided many people with good
looking pizzas during the beautiful weather. Photo by Bynn Shen.
We went Monday, August 5 which was a nice sunny day at 79 degrees Fahrenheit. As we arrived at noon at Mount Sunapee and parked the car, there was a shuttle bus taking people to the entrance/ticket booth. However, we had just missed it, so we walked for a few minutes to the gate ourselves. Before we walked around, we ate lunch at the lodge. Per my supervisor’s advice, we started from the very back tent and worked our way towards the tent closest to the gate. Since it was my first time attending, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was surprised to see how large the fair was and how many tents there were as we made our way to the end of the fair. There was a nice breeze, so it didn’t seem too warm when we were walking from tent to tent. Throughout the fair, there were blacksmithing, glass blowing, pottery, and basket weaving demonstrations as well as live music playing which made for a great and enjoyable atmosphere. In the center of all the tents, there were multiple food tents set up. The line for the pizza was very long and I could see why! 


Photo: This hand woven basket naturally aged over a span of
35+ years which became very informative for
the people visiting Jeffrey Gale's booth. Photo by Bynn Shen.

Each tent held up to 10+ artists with all varying focuses on painting, photography, woodworking, metalwork, ceramics, and many more. Among the tents was an Arts and Design Exhibition displaying work in one continuous space together. Throughout the tents, I noticed that there were many ceramic and woodworking artists like basket weaving, spoon making, and kitchenware. Some uncommon methods of working we saw were using Japanese wood blocks, utilizing copper etchings, and silk printing. As an artist myself, it was nice to be able to talk with the artists there about their process and interests. It gave my parents and I insight into the methods of art making that we hadn’t otherwise been able to learn in depth about. We neared three o’clock, so we took a quick snack and smoothie break. Afterwards, we finished up, we only had two tents left to go into. Overall, it was a really nice experience and we all enjoyed the wonderful weather. I’d definitely recommend it to anyone who’s interested in the arts or looking, something to do in the summer, or taking a break from work. The fair lasted for a little over a week, so it accommodated people attending to make sure they had time to come. Be sure to check it out next year in August!

Blog Post by Bynn Shen,  NHSCA Intern

Photo: The view from a small incline towards the rear
of the fair's many tents and visitors. Photo by Bynn Shen.

Friday, June 28, 2019

2019 New Hampshire Festivals, Fairs & Celebrations

Photo: NH Traditional Artist Garry Kalajian demonstrating
blacksmithing at the 2018 Traditional Crafts Days at Canterbury Shaker Village.
Photo by Kayla Schweitzer. 

Summer is here again in New Hampshire! Good weather coupled with great food, music, culture, arts and community- there are lots of celebrations, fairs and festivals to be excited about this summer! Below are some festivals, fairs and other celebrations in and around New Hampshire to enjoy! Make sure to check out area Old Home Days, music and food festivals  and agricultural fairs as well!

June 28-29
Portsmouth, NH
June 29-30               
Canterbury, NH
June 29-30
Washington, D.C.
The Social Power of Music
July 13
Exeter, NH
July 13-14
Warner, NH
July 14
Laconia, NH
July 24-25
Peterborough, NH
July 26-28
Lowell, MA
July 28
Loudon, NH
August 3-11
Newbury, NH
August 4
Nashua, NH
August 16-18
Manchester, NH
August 16-18
Lincoln, NH
Dover, NH
September 6-8
Salisbury, MD
September 7
Laconia, NH
September 7
Somersworth, NH
September 13-15          
Manchester, NH
September 14
Enfield, NH
September 15
Nashua, NH
September 20-22
Lincoln, NH
September 21
Keene, NH
September 21
Tamworth, NH
September 22               
Concord, NH
September 29-30
Portsmouth, NH
October 12
Portsmouth, NH
October 26
Canterbury, NH
November 2-3
Berlin, NH

If there are additional festivals, fairs and/or other celebrations not listed here, please feel free to let us know!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Discover WILD NH Day: The Legacy of the Outdoors on New Hampshire’s Living Cultural Heritage

Photo (L-R): Heritage & Traditional Arts Coordinator Kayla Schweitzer, Traditional Bamboo Fly Rod Maker Fred Kretchman, Black Ash Basket Maker Alice Ogden and Decoy Carver Fred Dolan. Photo by Shelly Angers.
This past Saturday, the Heritage and Traditional Arts Program (HTAP) participated in New Hampshire Fish and Game Department’s Discover WILD NH Day. As this annual community event explores New Hampshire's wildlife resources and legacy of outdoor traditions, this aligns with the mission of the HTAP Program "to identify, document, preserve, and promote traditional arts and artists in New Hampshire so they continue to be a visible and vital aspect of the state’s living cultural heritage."

New Hampshire has a strong legacy of stewardship of our natural and cultural resources so they will be available for future generations to benefit from.

Through this legacy and abundance of diverse natural resources, a wide array of traditional arts and folklife traditions have grown out of the love and relationship with our landscape- including decoy carving, timber framing, fishing, basket making, snow shoeing, stone wall building and dog sledding.

Attendees had the opportunity to learn about the NH State Council on the Arts and meet with traditional artists who were demonstrating their art forms: traditional bamboo fly rod maker Fred Kretchman, black ash basket maker Alice Ogden and decoy carver Fred Dolan.

Photo: Fred Kretchman  talking with attendees about
the design process for his bamboo fly rods. Photo by Kayla Schweitzer

Photo: Fred Dolan explaining the original
use and design of decoys to attendees. Photo by Kayla Schweitzer.
Photo: Alice Ogden showing
attendees her black ash baskets. Photo by Kayla Schweitzer


Thursday, March 21, 2019

2018-2019 Apprenticeship Spotlight: Fred Dolan and Paul Spencer, Decoy Carving and Painting


Originally designed as simple and utilitarian in form, Decoys, or “working birds,” were used throughout North America to lure birds in range of hunters. Usually carved out of cedar and weighted with lead for balance, decoys were suited to local hunting methods and specific bird species of the region. Like many of our living traditions, the tradition of decoys evolved in result of the passing of the Migratory Bird Act of 1918. This Act prohibited the hunting of over 800 species of migratory birds, which in turn made the demand for decoys decrease. With the lack of “demand,”
Photo: Calling Mallard by Fred Dolan.
Photo submitted by Fred Dolan.
decoy carvers moved from creating simple utilitarian decoys to decorative decoys, in which carvers executed decoys as beautiful portraits of the birds. This iteration of the tradition towards artistic excellence in techniques of carving the sculptural form and painting the sheer beauty of the bird transitioned decoys from their simple, functional form to works of fine craftsmanship and treasured pieces of folk art. Like many generations of master craftsmen and carvers that have shared and passed on their knowledge and skills in the tradition, Fred Dolan has dedicated his life to the mastery of this tradition and sharing his knowledge and skills with others.

Photo: Merganser by Paul Spencer.
Photo submitted by Paul Spencer.
During their 2018-2019 Apprenticeship, Fred Dolan and Paul Spencer will be researching the works of early Master Decoy Carvers, regional style differences, design techniques pertaining to materials and tools and will study basic bird anatomy and topography. As Paul has had previous experience in decoy carving, the team will be creating a Rocking Head Decoy, an innovative style developed by Master Carver Gus Wilson (1864-1950).
“As the state of New Hampshire develops and habitat is lost, I fear that this cultural tradition could be threatened. I strongly believe that our history and culture need to be commemorated and preserved. I take great pleasure in passing on my own knowledge and skills to emerging carvers.” –Master Artist Fred Dolan on why it is important to preserve this tradition in New Hampshire.
This year the NH State Council on the Arts supported by the National Endowment of the Arts was able to fund a total of five Master-Apprentice teams working to preserve and share the knowledge of Decoy Carving & Painting, Russian Icon Painting, Letterpress Printing, Accordion Music of New England and Scotland, and Blacksmithing, specifically focusing on pre-industrial handmade locks. We will be highlighting each of the five Apprenticeship teams in our "Apprenticeship Spotlight" series.
 Apprenticeship grants fund a master traditional artist to teach a qualified apprentice in one-to-one sessions over a period of six to ten months. Traditional arts and folklife – including crafts, music, dance, and foodways -  are passed down from one generation to the next within communities through observation, conversation, imitation and practice and are an important part of our living cultural heritage.