LACONIA — The photography and artwork created by participants in the River Crew Art program will be showcased during the group's second annual art exhibit held at the Busiel Mill beginning on Monday, August 5.
The exhibit will run through the end of August. The public is invited to the exhibit's opening reception, which will be held on Friday, August 9 from 5 p.m. through 8 p.m. Artwork on exhibit will be for sale, and all proceeds will directly benefit the program.
This year's exhibit theme is "Footprints in the City". Participants in the program have produced artwork throughout the last year in various forms including collages using found objects, painting, wood sculpture, and other media. The photography on exhibit will include images of the city, the Winnipesaukee River, and local wildlife. Poetry and essays will also be featured.
River Crew Art began in January 2012 with local volunteers Elaine Morrison and Dick Smith. Both have right background for their work with the participants of River Crew. Morrison is a retired special education teacher and an artist, and Smith is a retired medical social worker and an amateur photographer.
The pair began with an idea: to use art and photography as a tool for empowerment. They approached Laconia's downtown homeless and invited them to participate in creating artwork and provided lunch for all those in attendance. Laconia Parks and Recreation quickly granted Morrison and Smith permission to hold their meetings behind the former police station located at Church Street in Laconia. The participants chose their own name, River Crew Art, for the newly formed group. They now meet at every Monday at the Salvation Army in Laconia.
The road to empowerment has not always been easy. There are always challenges when working with the homeless, and shortly after starting the program, one of the program's participants drowned in the Winnipesaukee River. His fellow members chose to plant a memorial garden in his honor in front of the police station, which was an Adopt-A-Spot site. The group won an award for their efforts. The garden has since moved to the beginning of the WOW trail.
Morrison and Smith rely strictly on donations to purchase art supplies and lunch for members. The program is structured so that members not only create art, but they also give back to the community that supports River Crew. Projects have included making a flower wreath for the Newtown, CT residents, flower pins honoring the late Lilyanna Johnson, decorated pumpkins for the pediatric patients at the Laconia Clinic, and cards for the Wounded Warriors.
The work of the talented members of River Crew has been exhibited in many places throughout the community including the Lakes Region Camera Club, Downtown Deli in Laconia, Laconia Congregational Church, Hands Across the Table, Friendship Club, Better Together, and the Taylor Home.
The Busiel Mill is located at One Mill Plaza in downtown Laconia. The exhibit will be open to the public Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
The art and photography of River Crew Art members will be featured in the program's second annual exhibit at the Busiel Mill in Laconia. The exhibit, "Footprints in the City," opens on August 5 and will run through the end of August.