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WEEKEND - NH League of Craftsmen has its roots deep in the Lakes Rraftsmen Region

MEREDITH — Located on Rte. 3 with a beautiful view of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Meredith League of N.H. Craftsmen Gallery offers a unique shopping experience with an emphasis on home décor.
The art gallery represents over 250 of N.H.'s finest artists and craftspeople and offers pottery, jewelry, glass, stained glass, wrought iron, fiber art, mixed media, garden art and more. Craft education workshops and lectures are also offered.
It is one of seven galleries operated by the League. Others are located in Nashua, Concord, Hanover, Conway, Littleton and Center Sandwich, the place where the organization has its roots.
One of the oldest and most recognized craft organizations in the country, the League grew out of efforts, in the mid-1920s, to promote craft. Mrs. Mary Coolidge opened a crafts shop in Center Sandwich and A. Cooper Ballentine started craft classes in Wolfeboro. They joined forces and ignited a craft movement that swept the state.

A crafts committee, comprised of Coolidge and Ballentine as well as other leaders in the field, approached Governor John Winant seeking official state support. Winant agreed and in 1931, he established the New Hampshire Commission of Arts and Crafts, making New Hampshire the first state in the nation to support crafts.

The League of New Hampshire Arts and Crafts was founded in 1932 and opened the first official League shop in Wolfeboro. The first Craftsmen's Fair was held in 1933 in the Crawford House barn in Crawford Notch. With sales totaling $2,698, the Fair exceeded all expectations and became an annual event. During the Great Depression, the League helped craftspeople sell their work, hone their skills, and generate income. It is the oldest craft fair in the country.

Through the years, the League created many opportunities that encouraged craftspeople from all over the country to relocate to New Hampshire. The Annual Craftsmen's Fair grew in size and scope each year. The event was held in various venues throughout New Hampshire, and in 1964, the Fair moved to Mount Sunapee State Park in Newbury where it has remained ever since. A standards program was established with a jury system and a set of rigorous guidelines to ensure the high quality of work. Fine craft galleries were opened around the state and wide-ranging educational programs were developed.

The League officially changed its name to the League of NH Craftsmen in 1968 by vote of the membership. Growth continued at a rapid pace and it became obvious that the League would need a more modern headquarters with additional classroom space. After an intensive search for the best opportunity and its first capital campaign, the League moved to its current location, The Craft Center at League headquarters in the SMILE! building at 49 South Main Street in Concord in 2011.

The craft industry has become a state treasure. Lovers of fine craft come to New Hampshire from all over the world. They visit the Annual Craftsmen's Fair, shop at the retail galleries, visit craftspeople's studios during NH Open Doors, become supporting members, attend exhibitions, research craft subjects through the archives and library, and take advantage of the League's workshops and classes.

There are a number of art galleries in Meredith and nearby Sandwich, including the Lakes Gallery ay Chi-Lin on Lake Street in Meredith, VynnArt Gallery at 30 Main Street, Meredith and the Patricia Ladd Carega Gallery at 69 Maple Street in Center Sandwich.
Other nearby galleries include the Squam Lakes Artisans Fine Arts and Crafts at the Kirkwood Gardens on Rte. 3 in Holderness, Yikes! American Craft Gallery on 23 Main Street in Center Harbor and the Sandy Martin Gallery and artist-owned New Hampshire Gallery at 15 South Main Street in Wolfeboro.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 August 2014 01:02

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WEEKEND - 35th annual Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival will draw crowds to Meredith's Main Street

MEREDITH — Main Street here will be closed to traffic this weekend as it is transformed into an outdoor art gallery featuring the works of more than 70 painters, sculptors, jewelers, potters, photographers, and quilters for the 35th annual Lakes Region Fine Arts and Crafts Festival.
Free shuttle bus service will be available from both the north and south sides of Rte. 3 and will run continuously both days. Admission is free to the event, which is presented by the Meredith Area Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by the Meredith Village Savings Bank.
Over the years, the festival has gained a solid reputation among New England arts and craftsmen and is the largest quality arts and crafts event in the area.
Spectators will be impressed with the variety and quality of exhibits this festival has to offer. Booths will display wildlife photography, metal and wood sculptures, stained glass, handmade jewelry, baskets, leather projects, and abstract and traditional oil painting and watercolors. All items are original creations and the artists and craftsmen from all over New England will be available throughout the weekend to meet and converse with customers.
This year a booth sponsored by the Lakes Region Art Association will showcase local artists as well as provide art activities for the youngsters.
Performing at this year's event on both Saturday and Sunday will be Marc Elbaum and Christine Chaisson, who will play jazz, classic rock and great American songs from the 1950s, '60s and '70s. At 11 a.m. on Saturday, Simplicity The Clown will entertain the younger fairgoers as well as adults with comedy magic and balloon entertainment. Phil and Janet Sanguedolce will round out both Saturday and Sunday afternoons with classic folk and rock music.
Culinary delights and tasty treats will be available from the Meredith Kiwanis Club, the Chocorua Lodge of Masons, and the Sno Streakers. Featured will be the popular sausage sandwiches, hot dogs, soda, homemade pies and ice cream, and snow cones.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 August 2014 01:01

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WEEKEND - Lakes Region Art Association members at core of local scene

LACONIA — New Hampshire's Lakes Region has been attracting artists and art lovers for decades and the area offer a wide variety for those seeking unique and memorable artwork, original paintings and all aspects of the visual arts.
Walk through any downtown area in any Lakes Region community and you'll find art on display in galleries and art studios and even in historic buildings, like the Belknap Mill in Downtown Laconia, where the Riverside Room Gallery and the Belknap Mill Art Gallery feature exhibits by local artists, many of whom are members of the Lakes Region Art Association.
Currently the gallery features the work of Jean V. Kennedy, who is president of the association and whose work reflect her love of flowers, nature and the outdoors. She was born and raised in England and came to the U.S. as a young woman in the mid-1960's. She worked for Columbia University in New York as a research administrator for many years before moving to Louisiana with her husband. She now lives in Gilford with her husband and their two dogs and travels between Louisiana and N.H. each year.
Watercolor was the first medium Jean learned. Some of her work reflects the use of a negative painting technique called ''painting outside the lines." With this technique, there is no preconceived notion of the end result; no photograph or scene to copy, only what the artist visualizes and constructs from the paint on the paper.
''It's fun. You don't know what's going to develop,'' says Kennedy, who finds watercolor a fascinating medium to work with because of its fluidity and transparency. She also enjoys using oils and acrylic.
Kennedy says she was greatly influenced by a Louisiana art teacher, Myrna Waters, who taught her to push values and how to better use color and shape in a painting. As an artist she has earned many ribbons and awards by entering competitions both in New Hampshire and Louisiana. She won Best in Show by exhibiting at the art show for the Terrebonne Orchid Society in Houma, Louisiana and this year won an award for best watercolor at the recent Lakes Region Art Association show held at VynnArt Gallery in Meredith.
''We had 134 pieces of art exhibited by 51 different artists at the show and we're very fortunate to have several fine sponsors for the event.''
She says that the art association is very active, even during the winter months, and hosts monthly meetings at the Taylor Community which have featured presenters. It also has an artists of the month program in which art works from members are juried and displayed in banks and other public venues throughout the area.
The association currently has over 70 members, with the longest continuous members Roger Gagne, since 1968 and Robert (Bob) Prapuolenis, since l976.
Kennedy's work can be viewed at www.jeankennedyart.com and at the website hosted by the Lakes Region Art Association.
Beth San Soucie, program director for the Belknap Mill, says '''Our vision for the Belknap Mill is to become a cultural arts center in the historic downtown Laconia area; collaborating with organizations and businesses to bring more light to the wonderful happenings in the downtown.''
Also located in the downtown area in Laconia are Bead Divine and the Frates Creative Arts Center on Canal Street and Imagine Gallery operated by Maureen Biernarz-Pond at Pitman's Freight Room and the STudio at 50 Canal Street.
Melissa McCarthy, owner of The Studio, is continuing her commitment to showing alternative art on the gallery walls. The Studio, which relocated to Canal Street due to a fire at its former Union Avenue site, has gained a reputation for being a great place to browse for unusual gifts and also hosts lively sessions with visiting artists throughout the entire year.
The Busiel Mill, located next door to the Belknap Mill, also hosts art exhibits featuring original works by local artists, in its Community Room.
Another member of the Lakes Region Art Association whose work has attracted attention is Marcy Yerkes, owner of Southern Accent Designs, who, 27 years after moving to Laconia from South Carolina, still has her charming Southern accent.
Yerkes, who studied at Parson's School of Design in New York City and was a freelance illustrator at Hilton Head, South Carolina, has seen her hand-painted specialty work carried in boutique shops all over the country. She is also noted for her large, panoramic murals.
Her works have also been published in N.H. Home Magazine, Yankee Magazine, and The Artistic Stenciler Magazine for her murals an faux finishes. In addition her specialized painting has been featured in five Designer Show Houses through out the Lakes Region.
Yerkes says ''I believe my work should involve a challenge to inspire the viewer, not only to adorn, but integrate the art with one's personal environment."
After she and her husband moved to the Lakes Region Yerkes went to Plymouth State University to become an art teacher and taught in local schools for 10 years before starting her own business.
Yerkes was a multiple winner in the Lakes Region Art Association's 73rd annual art show held last year.
Yerkes took first place in the oil painting category with her cows in the field painting, which also won the Judges Award. And she won the Loran Percy Award for a New England Oil Landscape with her painting of Mount Washington.
She said that she was particularly pleased to have won the Percy award, noting that she has been a long-time fan of Percy's works ever since she moved to New Hampshire's Lakes Region. Percy won many Best in Show awards and other honors at the show over a 30-year period.
Her works can be seen at American Cottage on Rte. 11 in Gilford.

Last Updated on Saturday, 23 August 2014 01:00

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Volunteers raised $50,000 for new Elm Street School playground equipment

LACONIA — A ribbon-cutting ceremony was held last evening at the Elm Street School for new playground equipment recently installed as the result of a five-year, $50,000 fund drive conducted by the Volunteers in Service to Elm Street School (VISTESS) program.
Kara Stanley, Playground Fund coordinator, said that a $10,000 grant from the WLNH Children's Auction helped the organization reach its goal.
''There was some 20-year-old equipment which wasn't entirely safe. That's all been replaced and we've completed two new areas. Now we're looking at a third phase which will see swing sets put in place and will cost about $7,500.'' said Stanley.
She said that fundraising included sports ticket raffles, pancake breakfast events, penny/loose change drives, holiday spaghetti dinners and a variety of community outreach activities.
VISTESS is a non-profit organization dedicated to raising funds to provide enrichment programs, field trips and family events for Elm Street School students, parents and staff.
Heather Lounsbury, PTO coordinator, said that not only was the equipment purchased by VISTESS but members also did prep work and site work for the project.
During the ceremony Elm Street School's new principal Tara Beauchemin was introduced and she said that she was thrilled to be coming to a school which had such an active volunteer group and was so involved in the community,
For more information or to make a donation, please contact Kara Stanley, Playground Fund Coordinator at (603) 520-3233 or by e-mail at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. ; or check out Go Fund Me at www.gofundme.com/9swa6o and Facebook at Elm Street School Alumni and Friends.


10-year-old Ryan Poliquin, a fifth grader at Elm Street School, tries out some of the new playground equipment at the school following a ribbon-cutting ceremony held yesterday at the school. The equipment was purchased with funds raised by Volunteers in Service to Elm Street School and installed by members of the group. (Roger Amsden/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 12:58

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