Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Love, Lust, and Desire

A low fat alternative for your sweetheart on Valentine's Day - affordable art to tickle everyone's fancy.

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening of “Love, Lust & Desire” featuring the works of over 40 different artists. The show will run from January 31 to February 17, with a reception on February 3 from 5 to 7 PM. There is a snow date of February 10.

February is a month that inspires the romantic in all of us- but are you tired of giving the same old box of candy or vase of flowers? In celebration of Valentine’s Day, McGowan Fine Art presents “Love Lust & Desire,” an annual group show of over 40 artists. The majority of these artworks will be smaller than a sheet of paper, with prices between $25- $300- perfect for framing and presenting to your sweetheart. Or make it a date and pick out a valentine for each other. With such a big theme a lot of surprises are to be  expected. And the reception is the perfect opportunity to meet the artist who has created your Valentine!                                                  

The artists’ submissions from this show are as varied as the artists themselves. Claire Larrabee’s, beautiful, romantic jewelry will surely delight its recipient. Some of the pieces are like sweet little love notes, such as Jan Roy’s painting, “On My Mind”, or Janet Duncan’s delectable “Box of Chocolates”. Sid Ceaser’s  photographs of small plastic anime toys are sensual and humorous in their life-like depictions. Ted Arnold explores desire through a series of witty and comical prints for this show.

Some of the artists turn to animals for inspiration. Jane O’Hara’s loving portraits capture the unique personalities of animals, from bunnies to Boston Terriers. Debbie Kinson expresses love and desire through nature, such as two leaves playfully entwined in “Our Dance”, or the yearning of a bird for its worm in her luminous painting, “You Belong to  Me”.  

This is a show that will amuse and amaze. Bring your Valentine in for the gift of beauty.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Ralph Stone Jacobs: A Little Holiday Show

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening “Ralph Stone Jacobs: A Little Holiday Show”. The show will run from December 20 to January 13. The public is welcome.


Ralph Stone Jacobs lives and works in Northern New Hampshire in close proximity to the White Mountains. While Stoney often depicts the New Hampshire landscape in his paintings, this show will focus on still-lifes and portraits. Stoney is a renowned portrait painter, celebrated for not only capturing the likeness of a sitter, but also their personality. While Stoney is known for high profile commissions, such as his portrait of Jean Shaheen, the former governor of New Hampshire, this show will feature some of his more intimate portraits, including members of his own family.

Stoney’s still-lifes are small jewels, elegant in their depiction of rustic objects. The antique vessels in “Yellow Bottle, Blue Salt Shaker” are perfectly reflected on the table surfaces and are softened by shadows. The bottle and salt shaker are treated like living things, posed together against a muted background much in the style of a portrait. “Mussel Shells”, two delicate shells and a wisp of a flower, attest to Stoney’s ability to capture beauty in the most simple of objects. “Peppermint”, a small piece of cellophane wrapped candy, is tactile and delectable enough to pluck out of the painting. The show is a holiday treat for the whole family.

This exhibit will be on display at McGowan Fine Art at 10 Hills Avenue in Concord, NH. Please call Jessica Pappathan at 603-225-2515 for more information or visit our website at, or contact at

Hours: T-F 10 - 6, Saturday 10-2 and by appointment.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

In Home Art Consultation

I am frequently asked "Do you ever go to people's homes to hang artwork?" To which I respond with an enthusiastic- YES! I find that there are three barriers: asking, cost and quality of my skills.

For some people the hanging of artwork is easy-peasy and for others  it is a daunting process fraught with  potential for gauche missteps, faux pas and lackluster results. For these people, admitting to a professional that they have an art hanging deficit is the first step. I am hoping I have helped you overcome this fear by letting you know that a lot of people have the same question and I can definitely help you with it.

The second hurdle is always cost. Will the cost be to bring in someone with the important sounding title of Art Consultant be expensive? If a consultant is good (and worth their fees) they should be able to see and fix problems quickly. So the hourly rate may seem high but the final bill will be reasonable. I have often waived my fees for people who are purchasing art from my gallery. It is a value add to the transaction.

The final hurdle is the dread many people feel when they invite someone into their home to change things around - "what will they do? what if I don't like it?" I try to allay these fears by finding out what are the favorite pieces of art and how is the home used. I listen carefully and then make suggestions based on what I have been told, the spaces available and if the artwork needs to be viewed from afar or close up. I place the artwork throughout the home in recommended spaces and then ask the homeowner to approve my choices. The hanging part of the job is far quicker than the decision making process. I often hear "wow, you are fast and make that look so easy."

I see many of the same problems in each of the homes I have been in. A recurring one is that buyers  tend to buy lots of small works. It may be a combination of being intimidated by the price and the bigness. A variety of scale in art will add another dimension of visual interest. It will also keep a collection from feeling to choppy- think how inadequate a luncheon-size china set  would look on a big formal table. Same idea. One way to overcome your fear of big is to take home large works on approval to see how they work in a space.

Another art hanging problem is when a piece does not relate to the space that it is hung in. Putting a small horizontal in a very vertical space isn't pleasing. The eye wants to look up and down  instead of across. Think of the space as another frame around the art. You wouldn't have a mat that is only one inch wide on the sides and eighteen inches wide on top and bottom, would you? So make the space around the art somewhat proportional too. Consider stacking two smaller pieces in a vertical space or using a very tall piece.

For more tips on hanging art work you can read my post on hanging here.
middle two photos are courtesy of  All In the Details Interior Design.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

"Collage" show at the Sharon Arts Center

The Sharon Arts Center will collaborate with McGowan Fine Art in Concord to present “Collage,” an exhibition featuring the work of Ted Arnold, Catherine Bartlett-Hirani, Avy Claire, John LaPrade, Thomas Meyers, James Palmigiano, Lauren Pollaro, Paul Pollaro, and Jessie Pollock.
Sponsored by People's United Bank, "Collage" will be on display at the Sharon Arts Exhibition Gallery, 30 Grove Street, from November 4 through January 7, 2012. An opening reception will be held November 4 from 5 to 7 pm.

The exhibition is the first sponsored by Sharon Arts Center that focuses entirely on collage--works of art made from the assemblage of various materials. The technique has been employed by artists for hundreds of years, especially in the application of cut or torn papers and gold leaf to enhance a painted surface, but the term collage--from the French “coller,” to glue--first came into common use with the work of Picasso and Braque in the early 20th century.

Collage has evolved with contemporary artists as a way of bringing together disparate materials to create a wholly new object or image. The collaging or layering of elements can make use of the external meaning suggested by the components, including newspaper or magazine clippings, stamps, labels, or sheet music; or by allusion to the previous life of materials such as scraps of fabric, pieces of wood, leaves and other natural objects, or industrial remnants. Collaged works can vary from flat assemblies of colored or textured papers to works using three-dimensional materials that approach sculpture.

Each of the artists included in the Sharon Arts Center exhibition brings an individual vision and interpretation to this style of picture making. In the work of Paul Pollaro and Ted Arnold, color is the primary focus. Bright reds and vivid oranges bind the pieces together, but Pollaro’s focus is on abstract landscape-like forms while Arnold depicts people, wedding parties and tea cups. Thomas Meyers and Avy Claire have a more ethereal approach. Meyers’ delicate ink and casein washes lend subtle touches of color and line to his torn paper collages. Claire prints images onto mylar, which is sewn down and layered with excerpts from her personal journals.

Collage allows artists to explore qualities of depth and texture, as well as the layering of meaning through the cultural references inherent in some of the recognizable elements. The Sharon Arts Center and McGowan Fine Arts expect this exhibition to provide an in-depth look at the diversity possible in this exciting art form.

In conjunction with this exhibit there will be several events held in the Gallery:

Saturday, Nov. 12 and 16 from 10 am to noon: Kids Collage Mini-Workshop for ages 5+. Preregistration required. Call (603) 924-2787.

Saturday, Nov. 19 from 4-6 pm: Panel Discussion with Sarah Chaffee of McGowan Fine Art, Ted Arnold, and others.

Hours at the Gallery are Monday through Saturday 10 am to 6 pm and Sunday 11 am to 5 pm. For more information, call (603) 924-7676 and see

The mission of Sharon Arts Center, a non-profit organization, is to engage the community in the artistic process, to support and serve artists and craftspeople, and to foster the relationship between artists and the community through education, exhibitions, and the promotion and sale of arts and crafts as well as through special programs and events.

Sharon Arts center offers a wide variety of art classes and programs in the school facility in Sharon, NH--a Fine Craft Gallery, a Juried Artist Member Gallery, and an Exhibition Gallery at Depot Square.

The Sharon Arts Fine Crafts Exhibition Gallery is accessed through Depot Square and 30 Grove St. in downtown Peterborough. The Craft Gallery is located in Depot Square in Downtown Peterborough. Store and Exhibition Gallery hours are: Monday - Saturday 10 am to 6 pm, Sunday 11 - 5 pm.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

About Face: New Paintings by Kendra O'Donnell

The Robert M. Larsen Gallery
at Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C.
29 School Street – Concord, NH 03301

October 27, 2011 – April 27, 2012
Opening reception, Thursday, October 27, 2011 – 5-7 PM

The Robert M. Larsen Gallery at Sulloway & Hollis, P.L.L.C. presents “About Face” – a show of paintings by New Hampshire artist Kendra O’Donnell.

O’Donnell’s new work consists of meticulous paintings rendered with glazes and transparent oil paint colors applied to a prepared surface such as wood or paper. The glaze is difficult to maneuver and O’Donnell must frequently rub away the paint and reapply it to achieve ghosted images which evoke mystery and memory. The result is an atmospheric body of work which transcends time or historical genre.

This show primarily focuses on O’Donnell’s love of portraiture—and in particular—faces. O’Donnell in fact taught herself how to paint by studying and reinventing faces from art history, photographs, and other sources. A few earlier works in the show consist of grids of faces – Milton Avery, Pablo Picasso, Vincent Van Gogh, Rembrandt, and Lucien Freud, among others, are rendered with startling freshness and immediacy on wood panels which may be mixed and matched on the wall by way of Velcro pads affixed to the backs of the works.

Some of the new pieces such as Blue Boy harken to 18th and early 19th century American and English portraiture. Blue Boy at once evokes Thomas Sully’s Boy with a Torn Hat while also calling up something modern and brash—something a little edgy in the boy’s mouth—as if this is a reluctant lead in a junior high school play who is none-to-happy about the droopy hat he must wear. Similarly powerful, Woman with a Garland’s piercing blue eyes and eternal gaze cuts to the quick of capturing the human spirit.

Others pieces have deeply-textured surfaces which mimic renaissance painting or even Roman wall paintings discovered at Pompeii, as in the case of The Bridesmaid.

O’Donnell, the only woman ever to lead Phillips Exeter Academy, has been painting full time since her retirement from Exeter in 1997. She first became known for her paintings based upon old photographs. While her prior work was evocative, the thickness of the oil paint was sometimes a challenge to achieving clarity. The new works strip away the excess—quite literally O’Donnell wipes layers of oil paint away to achieve these almost translucent works, which are freer and more emotionally penetrating. In an odd way, it is these paintings, a decade or so after the first pieces based on photographs that somehow evoke the quick spark of life captured in a snapshot – the image created by the thinnest layer of human materials and the play of light and shadow on negative which renders the silent image. The departure from thick impasto to the almost spiritual use of thin washes of paint represents an “about face” in the artist’s work, one that the Larsen Gallery is pleased to showcase in a detailed and focused manner for the first time.

Together Again

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening of “Together Again”, a group show featuring the work of Sally Ladd Cole, Ellen Davis, Kate Miller, Catherine Tuttle, and Clifford Smith. The show will run November 15 – December 16, with a reception taking place November 18, 5 to 7 PM. An artist's talk with Clifford Smith with take place December 8 at 5:30 PM. The reception and artist talk are both free and open to the public.

In 2000, renowned NH painter, Clifford Smith, began a weekly studio class for several women trying to reenter the world of painting, or to take their painting to a new level. The participants were Sally Ladd Cole, Ellen Davis, Kate Miller and Catherine Tuttle. The class focused on “translating living, organic forms onto a two dimensional surface,” says Smith. “They developed a better understanding of how to look at the natural world.”

The show highlights New England’s landscape and its people. From everyday occurrences, such as a morning commute on Route 93, or a disgruntled Red Sox fan, to more intimate scenes such as a hidden pond in Sanborn, NH, or a quiet marsh in Kennebunkport, ME, the distinctive characteristics of each subject is captured. Catherine Tuttle describes painting the region’s diverse landscape. “I find oil painting intriguing for the rich range of colors, values, and depth of field it can present. I find I can more fully describe the qualities of deep space, atmosphere, and the solidness of earth with oil paint.”
“Together Again” invites us to see how these different NH painters perceive the region’s unique imagery. “I really enjoyed the teaching, watching their growth and helping them to find their own voice,” says Smith. “He really is the first teacher to give me a kick in the pants and be serious about this,” says Ellen Davis. “He pushed me and gave me the confidence to put my work out there as a painter,” says Sally Ladd Cole.
A portion of all sales will be donated to the New Hampshire Food Bank.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

James Palmigiano: Recent Collages

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening of “Recent Works”, featuring a selection of mixed media works by James Palmigiano. The show will run October 11 through November 11, 2011, with a reception taking place October 14, 5 to 7 PM. The reception is free and open to the public.

A Trappist monk, James Palmigiano’s monastic life manifests itself in his quiet, intimate works. “It seems clear that my work reflects my experience of life in the monastery”, says Palmigiano. “The apparent harmony of each piece is born of a process of adding and subtracting, organizing and rearranging in a search for balance, order and presence.”

Collage is the defining element of Palmigiano’s art which grew from his work as a vestment designer at Saint Joseph’s Abbey. At first glance his collages appear random, or disorderly. On closer inspection, the opposite becomes evident. Old stamps, fabric remnants, hand-written envelopes - every day bits and pieces of life - are carefully placed and then rearranged by his meticulous hand. “The process of art making is about attentiveness, trying to bring order and make something out of what is confused and apparently hopeless.” The result of Palmigiano’s painstaking process is serene, meditative works. His gouache and pastel paintings elicit this same sense of tranquility, with a juxtaposition of deliberate and gentle strokes.

James Palmigiano has been a brother at Saint Joseph’s Abbey in Spencer Massachusetts since 1991. Both his MFA from Columbia University and his Masters in Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkley have prepared him for the contemplative life.

Palmigiano has displayed his works in both solo and group exhibitions throughout New England, NY, and in CA.

Money and Art

A customer recently asked me what I thought of the movie Exit Through the Gift Shop. It is a mockumentary (my view) about street art that also passes judgement on the current art scene. Whether is  a real documentary or not doesn't matter. It raises questions worth pondering.....or expounding on.

Julia Jensen
The main character has his interest turned from filming street artists to becoming one.  His focus is on the marketing and branding of himself rather than creation of art. All effort is spent on creating hype and spectacle. It is equal parts chutzpah, money and grotesquerie. The jaw dropping wonder of this film is not that someone is creating bad art and trying to sell it but that critics and buyers believe what they have been told and are willing to hop on the proverbial bandwagon.

And this will bring me full circle to a point that I try to make again and again.... believe your eyes. It is not a bad thing to know the sales history of an artist, but it should not be the sole criteria for judging a piece of art. Being critical about art requires looking at a lot of it.... and making up your own mind. Don't be sucked in by publicity, hype or a gallery telling you that an artist is collectible or an investment. Remember that trend setting collectors, auction houses, artists and galleries have a stake in seeing prices on art sky rocket.

Katja Oxman
And this comes to my final point- the transaction. Why should and how much should you pay for a piece of art? How do you know if you are paying too much? Artists' prices are set and will be the same regardless of which gallery you purchase from. There are some galleries who have responded to the customers' demand for a discount by pushing the price up, but in general galleries and artists are charging a price commensurate with their skill and demand for the work. I try to get buyers to understand that the value is not necessarily  in the object but in an exchange of money which supports an artist whose work you like. Simply put- you are not buying a piece of art you are giving an artist a direct grant and in exchange you get a fabulous object to look at. So the questions to ask yourself are "can I afford this and do I love it  X number of dollars worth?" And this is true of any cultural pursuit.... if you value it and you think it has a place in your community then you should support it with the money that allows it to continue. This is true of music, film, books, the visual arts, dance and more.

Noriko Sakanishi
I had a  conversation recently with a long time collector. I called her bluff by pointing out that we both knew that she purchased many pieces to provide the artists with an income. She gave me a wink and pointed out that she only purchased work that she wanted and was willing to live with, but she is well aware of her role in changing the cultural landscape with her purchases. You too can help create the community and world you want by spending money on the quality of work you want to be surrounded by.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Retirement of Mary McGowan

Mary McGowan, founder of McGowan Fine Art is announcing her retirement. Founded over 31 years ago it is one of the states oldest galleries and the longest, single-owner businesses in downtown Concord.

Mary McGowan founded McGowan Fine Art in 1980 to showcase NH artists. “I wanted NH to recognize the quality of its artists, both established and emerging” said McGowan. “We have since gained a reputation for showing some of the most innovative work in NH.” In 1986 McGowan Fine Art relocated from her home to 10 Hills Avenue in Concord, where it continues to operate, expanding the gallery space and adding a frame shop.

Ms. McGowan turns the business over to director, Sarah Chaffee, who has been at the gallery since 1997. “Sarah has an eye for great art and an excellent reputation with artists. She has been a resource for colleges, organizations and clients. ” says McGowan. Amanda McGowan Lacasse, with the gallery since 2007, will succeed Mary in the corporate consulting. “Amanda has been working with corporation, developers as well as medical & retirement facilities. Her organizational skills and fresh eye have already helped so many to achieve a finished and professional environment.”

Please help celebrate Mary’s 31 years of promoting visual arts on Thursday, September 29 from 4 to 8 PM at the gallery. Many of the artists who have been affiliated with the gallery over the years will be showing recent work. They will also be attending to add to the festive evening. Come join us!

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Melissa A. Miller - "Recent Works 2011"

McGowan Fine Art announces the opening of “Recent Works” featuring the paintings of Melissa Anne Miller. The show will run from September 6 to October 7, with a reception on September 16 from 5 to 7 PM. This is free and open to the public.

“Recent Works” will feature the quiet scenes by Melissa that have become familiar to the people of New Hampshire and synonymous with the city of Concord. Her heightened colors and sense of light make her work distinctive and a favorite with everyone. Even those who are unfamiliar with Concord’s crowded streets and turn of the century downtown admire her paintings. They have a universal feel of home, which appeals to people, wherever they are from.

“Yellow House, Fall Afternoon” alters the viewer’s perspective with an upward gaze at a gabled yellow house. A warm pink shadow is cast across its front and sunlight on an adjacent roof glows orange. Ms Miller’s ability is in bringing all those colors together successfully. She has been applying this skill to landscapes again- most notably conservation land in the Concord Area. New Hampshire’s distinctive wetlands feature bare limbed snags standing in quiet waters- another opportunity to show facets and planes of light and how it alters colors.

Ms. Miller’s paintings have always been collected by many businesses and firms throughout New Hampshire- most notably SNHU, TD Banknorth in Manchester, NH Historical Society and Rath Young & Pignatelli’s office in Concord.

This exhibit will be on display at McGowan Fine Art at 10 Hills Avenue in Concord, NH. Please call Sarah Chaffee at 603-225-2515 for more information or visit our website at, or contact at Hours: T-F 10-6, and Sat 10-2 and by appointment.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Holding Events at McGowan Fine Art

McGowan Fine Art supports other organizations in a number of ways. We have held benefit shows for the Society for the Protection of NH Forests, Lakes Region Trust, Kimball Jenkins Estate, Canterbury Shaker Village and more. We have purchased advertising in the programs of Concord Community Music School, Lettvin Concerts, Catch Comedy Night and more. We have also collaborated with Main Street Concord to issue a limited edition giclee print of Bicentennial Square by Melissa Miller.

One of the lesser known ways we support other organizations is to allow them to use our space for events. We have hosted the Annual Meeting for the Women's Fund, a chocolate tasting for the Trial Lawyer's Association, a trunk show for Israeli artists brought to America by the Jewish Federation of NH and a going away party for the Executive Director of NARAL.

We are happy to host these events as a way of spreading the good word about McGowan Fine Art and show off our space...... and to support the many good organizations around the state. If you are interested or have any questions about this working for your organization give Sarah a call at 603-225-2515.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Portsmouth Museum of Art- Street Art

It’s summer time and the living is easy….and the Portsmouth Museum delivers up a show with "Street AKA Museum" that is worthy of the summer time seal of approval. This show has brought together street artists from around the world to do installations on the sides of buildings throughout the city.

I had a small amount of time to walk around the city hunting for these wall paintings so, admittedly, I only saw a few of them. (The museum is giving guided tours and has locations listed on their website.) The introduction of serendipity to my viewing made it feel like a treasure hunt. As I wandered the streets it was pure delight and amusement to discover the paintings. This is also one of the few museum displays that my dog, Henry, is welcome to view- made more inviting by the many water dishes left out by the downtown merchants.

While hardly a new idea it is refreshing to see a small city tackle a project that takes a certain amount of political will to make happen. There must have been a permitting process as these paintings probably qualify as signs. There was also some vocal public opposition to wall murals that deviated from the bland and acceptable historical depiction. Cathy Sununu, director of the Portsmouth Museum, must have done a fine job of explaining how courting controversy and keeping up with the cultural Joneses (or Berlins or Amsterdams or San Franciscos) helped to further Portsmouth’s image as a cultural leader in the state and drive tourist dollars to its merchants. There must have been support to make this sort of magic happen.

So grab your sunscreen and head to Portsmouth for a diverting day of art. Better yet- bring a friend and discuss the difference between art and grafitti. And definitely check out Clark’s Ice Cream on State Street.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


John LaPrade

McGowan Fine Art announces a show featuring the work of John LaPrade, Marisa DiIorio Peters and Wendy Prellwitz. The show will run from June 21- July 29, with an artist’s reception on June 24 from 5 to 7 PM. This show is free and open to the public.

John LaPrade
This is a show intended to reintroduce gallery goers to three experienced artists from around New England: John LaPrade, Marisa DiIorio Peters and Wendy Prellwitz. “The three have quietly operated under the radar in our stable of artists,” says gallery director Sarah Chaffee. “I thought it was time to display their work and let everyone know what I appreciate about their technique.”

John LaPrade, of the Worcester area, has been creating art for over 30 years that explores rich subconscious imagery overlaid with memory and nostalgia. He has worked in a number of mediums over the years but this show will focus on his desktop series, which is created on an old high school writing desk with its distinctive paddle shaped arm. Multiple layers of colored pencil, watercolor, collage and enamel creates a textured surface exploding with color texture and some surprising imagery. In “Mill Town” the industrial buildings of Worcester provide a back drop for trees and a cemetery. The graffiti of the desk are visible creating yet another layer both visually and metaphorically.

Wendy Prellwitz

Marisa DiIorio Peters

Boston area artist, Wendy Prellwitz has a new body of work that focuses on the river passing through her city. Her medium of monotype is well chosen for the subject matter. In ‘First Light #6” she captures the shimmering of the water as the morning sun hits its rippled surface. Monotype allows for the soft edges and muted colors that are so evocative of water. These prints are romantic in their coloring but with an abstract viewpoint. “Water itself has no pattern and little color, except for the forces of wind and tide and the reflections of light and sky. I aim to evoke the feeling and movement of water, the surface wave patterns and the sand ripples left behind,” says the artist.

Marisa DiIorio Peters

NH artist, Marisa DiIorio Peters has been with the gallery for over eleven years. Her organic shapes bring to mind plant forms and the sensuality of floral reproduction. Pods, orifices, branches, and flowers float across the surface of her canvases with a dream like quality and luscious colors. “The reality of constant flux in nature and of the metamorphosis of living things are what motivate these images,” says the artist. “But I have long been engrossed with the materiality of oil paint; my love of manipulating surface and color stems from an attachment to the highly seductive nature of the paint.” 
Wendy Prellwitz