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Newport, NH-and no, I didn’t make it to Sunapee

Belinda Pitrowski, owner of B’s Art and Designs
“When You Hear Water”, Susan Lirakis, photography

Newport, New Hampshire. A town I had never been to and I wandered to because after assessing what I had forgotten in my camping supplies, I determined that I needed something to paint on. I got in late enough on Friday night to not really miss paper. 

 After breakfast, what seemed like the best plan was explore, find paper, come back to camp and hike and then do some work.
Quite by accident, as I drove around Newport (the nearest town to camp), I found the Newport Free Library and their gallery. Since that didn’t open ’til 11 AM, I decided to explore. Newport provided me with a wonderful quilting store, where I bought butterfly fabric. The butterfly is the symbol of magic, beauty, creativity on the Medicine Wheel-and that leads to another story later.
One of the women there directed me to where I could find cheap watercolor paper. And, at Odd Lots, I was able to get a few other camping essentials I had missed, and watercolor paper, but that’s of dubious quality.
It was still too early to venture back to the Library Arts Center, so I set out to find small art. Or, art in small places. And, I hit “B’s Art & Designs” which is very definitely small, crammed full of hand-decorated items, including furniture, clothing, jewelry and stained glass and owned by Belinda Pitrowski.  And, this proved to me that what I am venturing to do with this blog makes sense.  I might have discounted the goal of the gallery as to present strictly decorativework  had I not talked to the proprietor.  Once she determined that I was the “real deal”, we had a great conversation touching on a number of topics. I showed her previous web postings and she felt really comfortable.
Pitrowski opened this small gallery a few years ago, and told me that the last two years were better than this one. She is more about craft, but she has been published. Her moose family (she didn’t give me an “official” title)  was featured on the cover of a hunting magazine, though she didn’t give me the name of it.  She feels confident about business and is looking for a larger space. And, after I explained my plight about being without good watercolor paper, she gave a piece large enough for two of the small watercolors that I am doing for the new series.
Newport Free Library  Arts Center was so much the opposite of “B’s Art & Designs”: sophisticated, and very ‘cosmopolitan’.  The featured photography by Susan Lirakis and her show, “When You Hear Water”  was a delight in a totally different sense. Where Pitrowski has passion and enthusiasm, Lirakis has a mastery of her medium and a true concept and a well-developed method of the potrayal of that concept. Where Pitrowski might not paint in the lines in quite the same way that those of use who are academically-trained might, her stuff is about the real desire to paint. Lirakis has the confidence in her work, and everything that it involves, but it lacks that grit that I find refreshing in some of the smaller venues. And, since I am also academically trained, and from Los Angeles, I admit that I will always feel more comfortable in this arena. The photos were lyrical and poetic. Though not ground-breaking, there was that sense of calm that comes from water and the proximity to it, and knowing exactly what to do, and what materials you need when you create.
And, here’s the twist: the Library Arts Center hosted an pleine-aire gathering for area artists to paint called “Arts in the Garden” and those works are in the back gallery. Belinda Pitrowski is represented here, as well. This exhibition lacked frills. There was nothing greatly impressive about the show aside from the fact that this area exhibition space has put this show up. Though I didn’t take notes, I will say that there were a few well-executed pieces.  There is also a silent auction for this work.
With that inspirational fuel, I went back to camp, had lunch, and took a two mile hike. When I returned, I proceeded to set up Belinda’s paper for two new pieces. I ran on that fuel for the rest of the afternoon, with the additional support of a White Admiral butterfly. The two new pieces, both of which are finished but I have yet to shoot, will be the subject of an upcoming entry.
Additional information about the shows, etc:
“B’s Art & Designs”, 6 Central Street, Newport, NH (603) 865-5437, or (603) 477-8108. I have no hours for the shop, so call ahead.
Library Arts Center, 58 N. Main Street, Newport, NH (603) 863-3040
     Susan Lirakis, “When You Hear Water”, runs from August 6-September 17.
     ‘Arts in the Garden Exhibit” also runs from Aug. 6-Sept. 17. Gallery hours are Tues-Sat., 11-4.
This is about what I’d like the posts to start looking like. Please feel free to post comments.
Daryl-Ann Dartt Hurst, artinsmallplaces