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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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Meredith says 'no' to 2-lane roundabout

MEREDITH — The committee of local stakeholders working with the New Hampshire Department of Transportation (DOT) to improve the flow of traffic through the U.S. Route 3/N.H. Route 25 corridor yesterday rejected the option of a two-lane roundabout at the village center junction.

Modellng by McFarland Johnson, Inc., project manager for DOT, indicates that a two-lane roundabout at the primary intersection offers the most effective means of relieving congestion. Nevertheless, the committee agreed that it would have an adverse impact on both the abutting properties and the entire downtown.

"You want the most efficient way to move traffic through town," Lou Kahn, who chairs the panel, told DOT offiicals. "You don't worry too much about what it does to the towni." He said that a two-lane roundabout would "cut the town in two," making it difficult to travel from one side to other. "You've got to fix the traffic problem without harming the town."

Rusty McLear of Hampshire Hospitality Holdings, whose inn at Bay Point on the southeast corner of the intersection would be affected by a two-lane roundabout, cautioned against looking for the perfect solution.

The committee returned to two alternatives for the intersection, improved signalization or a one-lane roundabout, with two right-turn lanes from Rte. 3 on to Rte. 25. Gene McCarthy of Mcfarland Johnson was asked to position the roundabout to minimize its impact on surrounding properties. Both options will be considered when the committee meets again in September.

McCarthy emphasized any improvements at the junction of Rte. 25 and Pleasant Street must correspond to those at the intersection of the primary intersection. In other words, either roundabouts or signals must be paired to ensure traffic flows efficiently. Several members of the committee though that a roundabout or signal at Pleasant Street could ease access and egress to businesses along Rte. 25, particularly the Hannaford supermarket.

The committee also discussed ways of managing foot traffic back and forth across Rte. 3 at Lake Street and Dover Street, which contributes to slowing traffic and increasing congestion on the highway. If the central intersection continues to be managed by traffic signals, signals to control pedestrian crossings could be coordinated with them. However, it would be more difficult to coordinate pedestrian crossings on US Route 3 with a roundabout at the intersection.

McLear pointed to the success of pedestrian underpasses in Holderness and New Hampton, reviving the notion of constructing a tunnel under the highway from Hesky Park. McCarthy said that 10 feet of clearance would be required together with graded approaches to accommodate those with disabilities. "It can be done," McLear insisted, asking "what's the cost?"

The committee will next meet on Thursday, September 18.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 12:51

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Hosmer raising far more money than Republican challenger from Franklin

CONCORD — Financial reports filed this week show a wide gap in the funds raised by the candidates for the New Hampshire Senate in District 7 — the Democratic incumbent Andrew Hosmer of Laconia and his Republican challenger Katheen Lauer-Rago of Franklin.

Between June 18 and August 20 Hosmer added $35,020 to his balance of $79,613 for a total of $114,633, During the same period he reported expenditures of $35,896, leaving him with $78,737 in hand.

Lauer-Rago raised $6,536 and spent $3,199 and has a balance of $3,230.

Hosmer counted 111 individual contributors, including three of $1,000 and 10 of $500. He also received contributions from 29 businesses, labor unions and trade associations totaling $13,100. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, who share Hosmer's support for the Northern Pass project. He received $1,000 from the New Hampshire Automobile Dealers Association. (He's an executive at AutoServ of Tilton.) The New Hampshire Association of Realtors kicked in $2,000.

Lauer-Rago received 30 contributions, most of them from individuals. With a contribution of $2,000, the political action committee of Senator Chuck Morse of Salem, the president of the N.H. Senate, represented nearly a third of all her funds while Senator John Reagan of Deerfield and the Merrimack County Republican Committee each contributed $500.

District 7 consists of the city of Laconia and towns of Belmont,and Gilford in Belknap County and the city of Franklin and towns of Andover, Boscawen, Canterbury, Northfield, Salisbury, and Webster in Merrimack County.

Last Updated on Friday, 22 August 2014 11:49

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