Special children's activities at 82nd Annual Craftsmen's Fair

NEWBURY — With a combination of hands-on activities, displays of handmade craft, an emphasis on children's activities and workshops, and the chance to interact with craftsmen, the League of NH Craftsmen's 82nd Annual Craftsmen's Fair gives everyone a chance to learn and experience something new. The longest continuously running annual crafts fair in the nation, the event draws more than 30,000 guests each year and features more than 350 craftsmen. The Fair runs Saturday, August 1, through Sunday, August 9, 2015 at the scenic Mount Sunapee Resort in Newbury.

From modern to more traditional styles, the Fair features more than 200 booths of fine craft. The Fair boasts daily craft demonstrations and workshops, fine craft exhibitions, free tours and seminars, and entertainment. This year's fair will have a special focus on children, including an all-day pottery school and lessons on the use of woodworking tools. For a full schedule of events and activities, please visit www.nhcrafts.org.

The Fair's lead sponsor, the Mount Washington Cog Railway, will host an on-site display of the historic Peppersass Cog Railway train engine—the first mountain-climbing cog railway engine in the world, built in 1866. The train was handcrafted in New Hampshire and is a product of 19th century technology and modern innovation. Guests will get the chance to snap photos with the historic engine, and learn about its storied history. A film, Mount Washington Cog Railway: Climbing to the Clouds, will be shown daily.

The "Next Generation" tent features work by children who are related to or sponsored by the League's juried craftsmen. The Next Generation tent gives budding craftsmen the chance not only to showcase their work, but to gain valuable entrepreneurial experience. 

On Thursday, August 6, the Fair will be open until 8 p.m. to give visitors more time to shop and enjoy the activities, and admission is $5 after 4 p.m.

A Collectors Seminar on Monday, August 3, will give experienced and aspiring collectors alike the chance to learn the ins and outs of collecting. Sarah Chaffee, owner of McGowan Fine Art Gallery in Concord, and collector Bill Stelling will lead the seminar.
The 82nd Annual Craftsmen's Fair is open 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily, rain or shine, August 1st through August 9th. Admission is $12 for adults; $10 for seniors, students, active duty military (with ID), and groups of 20 or more (per person). For group ticket sales please call 603-224-3375. Admission is free for children 12 years old and younger. Admission includes access to all exhibitions and demonstrations; tickets for a second return day are available for an additional $5. Purchase tickets online at www.nhcrafts.org. Parking is free.

Amy Prendergast: Born to be an artist

By Mike Mortensen

LACONIA — You could say that Amy Prendergast was born to be an artist, but it has taken decades for that innate gift to reach full flower.

Prendergast recalls how her mother remembered Amy picking up a pencil and doodling when she was still a toddler. "I've been drawing ever since I could remember," she said.

Her interest in art continued, and by the time she reached high school in Rumford, Maine, it had grown to the point that she was asked to paint three murals for the school.

But for Prendergast, who describes herself as a lifelong entrepreneur, other interests and projects occupied her time. She has run a home-cleaning business, and for a time operated a hair salon.
But now Prendergast is giving her time almost exclusively over to her art.

"Art is my biggest passion and my outlet," said Prendergast who has turned a back room in her Dolloff Street home into a studio.

A self-taught artist who readily admits that her talent is developing — "The more I paint, the more I will evolve as an artist" — finds herself drawn to subjects in which water plays a prominent role in the scene.

It was just such a painting, one featuring her bikini-clad niece admiring the water cascading over Profile Falls in Bristol, which recently won the People's Choice award at an exhibit sponsored by the Lakes Region Artist Association. The painting, titled "My Zen," remains on display at the VynnArt Gallery on Main Street in Meredith through Aug. 2.

The use of the word "zen" — sometimes defined as a total state of focus that incorporates a total togetherness of body and mind — in the painting provides a key to understanding how Prendergast gets her artistic inspiration.

"It gives me a zen feeling when I paint water," she said.

Another one of Prendergast's recent works is "Wave," which shows a wave crashing on the shore. That painting, which won an Artist of the Month award, is now on exhibit at the Laconia Public Library through the middle of August.

Prendergast credits the Lakes Region Artists Association with supporting artists such as herself. The group gives artists a way to network with others, and Prendergast finds the organization's monthly workshops extremely helpful.

For Prendergast the best way to improve artwork is to keep painting, and especially to create pieces to capture a moment that have deep meaning for her personally.

Prendergast has gone through phases of subject and color. She started by painting landscapes. Now she has found a niche in painting the human figure and water.

Back in 2009 she happened to take a photograph of a bird swooping down to grab something to eat over the water at Bartlett Beach in Laconia. She submitted the photograph to the Concord Monitor which at the time was running a contest for wildlife photography. The photograph was selected as a winner and it was printed in the Monitor.

Now, these six years later Prendergast has taken that photograph is put is on canvass.

Prendergast says that he often paints from photographs she has taken. But, though she works from the photograph, she gives the scene her "own spin" as she puts the brush to the canvass.

Her hope is that people will see in her work what "I can see".

Canal Street businesses celebrating on Wednesday evening; Frates Center marks 40 years in business

LACONIA — Businesses along quaint Canal Street in downtown Laconia are celebrating a number of milestones on Wednesday, July 29 with music and open houses from 3 to 7 p.m.

Melissa McCarthy is celebrating her 1,000th day at The Studio. Bead Devine is marking one year in business. Daub's Cobbler Shop (Jim Daubenspeck) is celebrating the purchase of a building for its new location. And Frates Creative Arts Center is celebrating 40 years as a Lakes Region business and creative arts tradition.

The Frates Center began in a home basement art studio and then moved to the lower level of the then Sundial Shop in the middle of downtown. The next move was to Canal Street and that was followed, two years later, my a short move to the Tavern Mini-Mall, where the art studio combined with the Creative Dance Studio to become Frates Creative Arts Center.

The Frates Center moved back to Canal Street when the Mini-Mall was purchased by the Laconia Housing Authority to house the Laconia Senior Center.

Now located in the side entrance to the Colonial Theater building and in the former home of Paquette Sporting Goods, the center continues to offer art, dance, magic, puppet and acting classes, as well as Paint Along Parties, Art To You classes and caricatures.

Since the original move to the Sundial Shop building, points out Larry Frates, the center has remained dedicated to downtown Laconia as the heart of a vibrant community.

This summer and fall, Joan and Larry Frates will again be offering special events, classes and celebration-related activities. For details and times visit www.fratescreates.com or call 528-7651.