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The NH Monadnock Thrive Guide

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Artist Chris Myott in front of his painting with this dog

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If you’re looking for a feast for your eyes, look no further! The Monadnock region in southwest New Hampshire is full of artists and makers. You’ll find classical portrait painters and landscape artists. You’ll also find contemporary artists, performance artists, and so much more. There’s something about this place that just inspires you to think critically about your work, and then to make things that are beautiful – and to make things that inspire more questions about the world. You can see artists work in all types of venues in the Monadnock region. Most are very intimate spaces, either artists’ studios or small galleries in peaceful settings. Here are three ways to discover monadnock arts.

GALLERIES

The Ewing Award-winning Jaffrey Civic Center opened in 1966 as a repository for cultural events and community engagement. It has two floors of rotating exhibitions and displays of historic objects. The center also hosts events, classes, and workshops on various subjects including history, book releases, poetry writing, painting, printmaking, and drawing. All of the center’s art shows are free and open to the public. Another place to find local artist galleries is the Monadnock Area Artists Association (MAAA). MAAA also organizes events like Keene’s annual Art in the Park in early September. Local artists and artisans bring their work and settle under white tents for a weekend of creativity and color! Visit the Riverview Mills Artist Collection in Wilton for over 30 private spaces for artists and small businesses. Some working studios, galleries, and shops are open for the public to peruse at their leisure! The Mills partner with community groups like the Wilton Main Street Association to put together events including artisan markets! 

To see what our college students are up to, visit Keene State College’s Thorne Sagendorph Gallery. The gallery hosts lectures and exhibitions in addition to their permanent collection – and all are open to the public. Studies show that the arts contribute to wellness! Check out the gallery at the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Cheshire Medical Center. Senior centers are also known to provide wonderful aesthetics for their residents and the public!

ART TOURS

There are two wonderful annual self-directed art tours held on Columbus Day Weekend. For the Fall Foliage Art Studio Tour (FFAST), the artists are sprawled out across several of the region’s towns. Each open their homes and private studios to wandering eyes (and feet). The tour begins with an opening reception. The second, the juried Monadnock Art Open Studio Tour, is New Hampshire’s oldest art tour. Patrons and visitors have the ability to wander into studios in several autumn-colored towns from 10am-5pm. Artists, crafters, and vendors often sell their work at special prices just for the tour. Both tours include mediums both traditional and unexpected! The River Valley Artisans’ Wine and Art Tour occurs in the first half of September. Artists present their work at a few different wineries – a perfect blend of nature and creative beauty! Past works have included paintings, photography, carved eggs, fairy homes, quilts, pottery, and more.

COLLECT ART

The Hannah Grimes Marketplace on Keene’s Main St is open daily. Over 240 vendors sell their products here. Find everything from knits to soaps to jewelry and woodwork! The Hannah Grimes Center for Entrepreneurship provides business development workshops, programs, and resources for entrepreneurs to continue to build our region’s thriving arts economy! Brewbakers Cafe has arts, crafts, and products made by local artists and artisans on display. In the same corner, Keene-based family art hub Wakadoodles has a Maker Space set up to get those creative juices flowing. Book a workshop! A membership with Wakadoodles comes with DIY craft kits. If you have kids, look into afterschool and summer programming. An easy way to find this region’s premier local artists is at the monthly First Fridays Gallery at Depot Square in Peterborough. Merchants, shops, restaurants, and galleries all keep their doors open late to be discovered by you! Also in Peterborough is the annual Art Walk in the Park on the first weekend in July. Over 70 artist vendors gather here with unique and joyful offerings. Another way to peruse the art available all around you is the Keene ArtWalk in June! Store and restaurant fronts all along main street decorate their windows with the work of local artists. Find photography, paint, pastels, quilts, mixed media, and more! For one day a celebration of performances and demonstrations, the Art is Everywhere event, lights up the town with interactive activities!


For a calendar of upcoming events visit Discover Monadnock. There you can sign up for the weekly cultural events newsletter to get the week’s roundup straight to your inbox.

About our Guest Blogger

Arts Alive contributed this post. They are a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization creating and supporting a sustainable landscape for the arts in the Monadnock region. Through memberships, creatives and artlovers can connect at fun meetups, go on artist field trips, attend workshops, and hear about all the great opportunities for creatives and creative businesses in our region. The whole community is welcome to join Arts Alive for the annual Keene ArtWalk each June, Ewing Arts Awards each July to celebrate arts of excellence in our region, and our Arts Track sessions at the national Radically Rural summit in September. Learn more and become a member at monadnockartsalive.org

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