Art to You workshops bring the art world to seniors

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Lakes Region Senior Centers, LRPA Channel 25 and the Belknap Mill have been collaborating to provide Art To You workshops to their communities for over eight years. Leisure time and creativity have found a common ground through this venture promoting the visual arts as something that is fun to do and available to everyone. More information is available by calling Belknap Mill, artist in residence Larry Frates at 603-387-3687 or visiting


When senior citizens have leisure time and spend a portion of their days at local senior centers bringing an innovative program to them via cable station LRPA Channel 25 and actual visits by the Art to You program has been making a difference for over eight years in the Lakes Region. Designed and developed by Belknap Mill artist in residence Larry Frates, the idea has grown to include individuals from Alton, Laconia, Gilford, Gilmanton, Meredith, Moultonborough, Pittsfield, Barnstead, New Duham and Bristol.

The program includes individualized drawing, painting and printmaking workshops once a week that introduce the participants to a studio experience with a demonstration, creating time and a critique session both in the live classes and on television on a daily basis. Demonstrations are video taped for each senior center to be used all week for artists who miss the class or cannot view the class on the internet when it airs or is live streamed on Channel 25.

“It has been a wonderful experience that has brought more color into my life,” said Ann Shea of Alton, who has been a member of the group from the beginning.

Her friend Beth Lavasseur said, “These workshops have opened my eyes to a whole new world around me and given me a chance to meet some new and wonderful friends.”

"Bringing art to the people and making it fun is the goal of this idea,” added instructor Frates.

The classes bring people together and provide them with a simple skill that can be used to fill time in their lives with a positive activity. It offers a time to relax while creating an art piece to be proud of at the conclusion.

Pam Taylor of Pittsfield said, “Everything I do in class doesn’t always come out perfectly but that’s not why I do it. It’s about keeping my eyes open to the beauty around me and to keep trying to be more creative.”

Eileen Golden of Norwood, who travels to Alton and Laconia, finds the television and online classes important since she doesn’t make all of the classes because of distance and weather.

In the end it’s about seeing, trying new material, practicing new techniques and making new friends with a similar interest. These art friendships have opened a new world for some of these seniors and their experiences in the studio are giving them opportunities to challenge how they see their world and the confidence to put their ideas to paper or canvas for the whole world to see.

Trump: NH ‘drug -infested den’

President’s words draw sharp local response


LACONIA — Local and state officials reacted sharply Thursday to recently released comments by President Donald Trump in which he told the president of Mexico that he won New Hampshire because the state is “a drug-infested den.”

The statement was published yesterday as part of a transcript, obtained by The Washington Post, of a January telephone call that Trump had with President Enrique Peña Nieto.

The state actually supported Hillary Clinton in the general election, but Trump carried the state in the Republican primary.

Republican Gov. Chris Sununu called Trump wrong and said the state is making progress with its efforts to fight drug abuse. All four Democratic members of the congressional delegation rejected the comments.

“It's disappointing his mischaracterization of this epidemic ignores the great things this state has to offer,” Sununu said.

New Hampshire does have a severe opioid abuse problem. It ranks second nationally for per capita deaths due to drug overdose at 34.2 per 100,000, behind only West Virginia at 41.5 per 100,000, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Republican Rep. Ray Howard, who represents Belknap District 8, had words of support for the president.

"He's absolutely right," Howard said. "And, as far as I'm concerned, we're fostering it by making it acceptable. It used to be considered a disgrace, morally wrong, and now we just accept it and say those people don't have an addiction, they have a disease.

"We had over 500 overdose deaths last year. That's crazy. And what do we do? We just buy more Narcan."

However, Daisy Pierce, executive director of Navigating Recovery of the Lakes Region, objected to the way the president discussed the issue, saying he “painted a rather negative picture.”

“It is a crisis, but it is a disease, and we don't see these people as den dwellers,” she said. “They are people who need help, kindness and compassion, not the dark picture a drug-infested den paints.”

She said more resources are needed to combat the problem in New Hampshire, which she said ranks low in funding to fight addiction.

Randy Bartlett, who runs the Riverbank House treatment and recovery community, said he doesn't take the president's comment seriously.

“Most of the things Trump says I don't pay any attention to because he is sort of an idiot,” Bartlett said. “He's not very serious on any subject. Hasn't he sort of demonstrated that in a few months in office?

“His baseline for monitoring what he says is that of a 3-year-old.”

Linda Saunders Paquette, president and CEO of New Futures, said Trump's statement “is disturbing on a number of levels.”

“First, it reflects a total lack of understanding regarding the complexity of the nation’s and New Hampshire’s current opioid epidemic,” she said. “The causes of the public health crisis in New Hampshire are multi-faceted, ranging from health care provider over-prescribing of opiates, to lack of prevention, treatment and recovery capacity for people suffering with Substance Use Disorders.

“Second, the description of New Hampshire as 'a drug-infested den' is not only inaccurate, but it is an insult to the first responders, substance use providers, prevention specialists, people in recovery, policymakers and advocates who are working tirelessly to stem the tide of substance misuse in our state. Finally, working across party lines, New Hampshire has taken significant steps to address the crisis.”

She said the president's time would be better spent working to expand treatment for drug dependency under Medicaid and taking other steps to fight the problem.

Laconia City Councilor Henry Lipman said Trump's comments “were not helpful.”

“Across the country, there are challenges with the drug issue and I would say that it is a mis-characterization of the issue to call New Hampshire 'a drug-infested den.'”

Laconia Fire Chief Ken Erickson, whose crews respond to numerous drug overdose calls, was harshly critical of Trump.

“The president is a moron,” Erickson said. “So far he's an embarrassment to the country. He owes the state of New Hampshire an apology as far as I'm concerned.

“Yes we have a problem. There's no question it's pretty serious in the city of Laconia, but by no means would I call it a drug-infested den.”

See reaction to the president's comments on our Facebook page:


Soulfest kicks off for its 20th year

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The Eastern Nazarene College group of “soulfesters” from Quincy, Mass., get into their groove for Juniper, the first band to take the Main Stage at Gunstock’s Soulfest 2017 yesterday afternoon.  (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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GILFORD — Soulfest opened at Gunstock Mountain Resort yesterday for its 20th season, with some 10,000 people attending, according to Dan Russell, co-founder and producer of the event.
The multi-day Christian music festival actually got underway on Wednesday with a kickoff concert featuring Jars of Clay, The Violet Burning, Russell and Rachel Taylor.
Yesterday’s crowd included 1,000 children who were 10 and younger, qualifying for free admission, Russell said. He anticipated having 500 more attendees arriving today (Friday), and 12,000 attending on Saturday.
Putting on the event requires 500 staff members and 400 volunteers, Russell said, noting that there were 500 non-paying guests.
Soulfest began in 1998 at Loon Mountain in Lincoln and moved to Gunstock in 2004 where it has remained since then.
Described as a “faith-based, social-justice music festival,” the event includes performances and other activities on five stages, with musical groups that range from praise and worship music to solo and rock bands. The event also includes speakers addressing a number of topics relating to music, love and action.
Bands performing yesterday included For King & Country, Tenth Avenue North, Jars of Clay, Moriah Peters, Christopher Williams, Tedashii, Ryan Stevenson, and Juniper.
On today’s schedule are Matthew West, Rend Collective, Matt Maher, Randy Stonehill, Peter Furler Band, The Violet Burning, Mari, Propaganda, and Damian.
In an earlier interview, Russell said, “Music is sort of the conduit through which we want to convey a message, which is, if you believe in God as omnipresent — everywhere — and you believe God is love, then that love is everywhere.”
He said tickets are still available for those wishing to attend the event, which runs through Saturday.

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The Panorama lift brought visitors to the summit for the Mountain Top acoustic stage featuring the Hannah Dawber Band. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)

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Chloe and Abbie show off their henna tattoos while waiting for Juniper to take the main stage as Soulfest 2017 gets underway. (Karen Bobotas/for The Laconia Daily Sun)