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Art Notes: Queer Prom Graces Main Street Museum Exhibition

This Leah Berry photograph is included in "Written in Stone."

This Leah Berry photograph is included in "Written in Stone."

Growing up in the Upper Valley, Molly O’Hara never set foot in the Main Street Museum. It wasn’t until this past June, when she went to a live music event, that she visted the White River Junction meeting place.

“Immediately I thought, this is the first place in the Upper Valley that doesn’t make me feel weird,” O’Hara said.

As tolerant as the Upper Valley is, it still isn’t easy to grow up queer here. “I didn’t know how uncomfortable I felt in some places until I came here and I felt totally at ease,” said O’Hara, who grew up in Strafford, went away to the University of Vermont, and now lives in Thetford.

O’Hara has curated an exhibition that marks a first for the Main Street Museum. “Written in Stone: Voices of the GLBTQ Community” is the museum’s first show consisting solely of work on the expression of gender and sexual identity. The show opened last week, but on Saturday night the museum will host a “Queer Prom,” an event open to all but where only those in drag will be eligible for election as prom king or queen. The prom starts at 7 and will feature DJs., dancing, a vogue contest, prizes and all manner of fabulousness. There’s a $25 suggested donation, but no one is ever turned away from the museum for lack of funds.

The art exhibition includes work by artists from around the state, including stalwarts of the White River Junction arts community Mark E. Merrill and Matt Bucy, Peter Paedra Bramhall, Rene Guerrior, Sam Beasley and many others.

O’Hara, 28, said she organized the show to provide a more vocal acceptance of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and questioning people and to highlight the museum’s status as a safe space for all.

“New England is so quietly accepting,” she said. Yankees “are not cold or indifferent. They’re keeping their opinions about you to themselves.” That’s all well and good, but “the GLBTQ community needed to be receiving more vocal acceptance, more vocal representation,” O’Hara said.

“This will definitely shout, in a wonderful way,” she added.

The show and prom are a bit of a departure for the Main Street Museum. Although the museum has always been a welcoming place for all visitors, it has never made sexual orientation a particular focus. “Just being an all-inclusive museum just means that our mission means catering to the broadest cross-section of people,” said Merrill, president of the museum’s board.

Merrill said he couldn’t recall the museum ever holding a show devoted to GLBTQ voices or artists before.

The museum is a safe space for GLBTQ people, O’Hara said. “It’s not a known entity in that way and it needs to be,” she said.

Merrill said the show and prom could become an annual event.

Of Note

Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art hosts a lecture on “The Dak’Art Biennial and Contemporary African Art Since the 1990s” by Ugochukwu-Smooth Nzewi, the Hood’s curator of African art, Friday evening at 5:30 in the Hood Museum Auditorium.

∎ AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon continues its free film series, “Focus on Film — As Art, On Art” with a screening of Bone Wind Fire , a short film that meditates on the lives and works of Georgie O’Keefe, Emily Carr and Frida Kahlo, this evening at 7. Director and painter Jill Sharpe will be on hand to lead a post-screening discussion of her work and that of her subjects. A notable detail of the film is the inclusion of late 19th- and early 20th-century Canadian writer and painter Emily Carr, whose work deserves a wider airing.

Openings and Receptions

Two Rivers Printmaking Studio in White River Junction holds its silent auction party Saturday evening, 6-8. Auction bidding on donated art concludes at the party. Two Rivers also is auctioning off two etchings by Susan Walp.

∎ BigTown Gallery in Rochester, Vt., holds an opening reception Saturday evening, 5 to 7, for “Aviary,” a group show of art about birds that features several artists with Upper Valley ties, including Virginia Beahan, Varujan Boghosian, Gail Boyajian and Bhakti Ziek. Master birdcarver Floyd Scholz, of Hancock, Vt., will give a talk about his more than four decades of work on Nov. 2 at 3 p.m. Seating for the talk is free, but limited. Call 802-767-9670 to reserve a place.

Last Chance

“Field of the Stars: A Pilgrim Life on the Camino de Santiago de Compostela,” an exhibition that documents the recent walks by Kimball Union Academy students and staff and Upper Valley residents who have walked the pilgrimage route across northern Spain, is on view in KUA’s Taylor Gallery through Saturday.

Ongoing

AVA Gallery and Art Center in Lebanon hosts “AVA Selections: Work by Twenty Artists,” and “Form and Pattern,” an exhibition of work by Linda Roesch to benefit AVA.

Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art exhibits Picasso’s Vollard Suite, a series of etchings that trace the development of his printmaking abilities; “Cubism and Its Legacy,” which follows cubism from its invention by Picasso and Braque through its diffusion through the first half of the 20th century; “Between Tradition and Modernity: The Art of Fan Tchunpi,” paintings and ceramics by the 20th century Chinese artist, who lived much of her life in New England; “Shadowplay: Transgressive Photography from the Hood Museum of Art,” a show curated by studio art professors Virginia Beahan and Brian Miller; and “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection.”

∎ “Spare,” works by Brenna Colt, is on view at the Chandler Downstairs Gallery in Randolph.

∎ Woodstock’s ArtisTree Gallery hosts “Local Color,” its fourth annual fall group show, through Oct. 26.

∎ Scavenger Gallery in White River Junction shows sculpture and woodware by Ria Blaas and jewelry and sculpture by gallery owner Stacy Hopkins.

∎ Dartmouth’s Hood Museum of Art hosts “The Vollard Suite” and “Cubism and Its Legacy” through Dec. 20. Also at the Hood: “Shadowplay: Transgressive Photography from the Hood Musem of Art,” an exhibition organized by Dartmouth studio art professors Virginia Beahan and Brian Miller, and “Evolving Perspectives: Highlights from the African Art Collection at the Hood Museum of Art.”

∎ e_SDLqPoints of View: Seven Portrait Artists” is on view in Randolph’s Chandler Gallery. The show traces the development of seven Central Vermont artists who work each week from the same model. Agathe McQueston, Lark Upson, Sande French-Stockwell, Judith Beckett, Liesi Hebert, Marcia Hammond and Joan Feierabend have been meeting weekly in Feierabend’s Tunbridge studio to share the expense of paying a model. Through Nov. 10.

∎ Ledyard Gallery in Hanover’s Howe Library shows photographs of library patrons with their favorite books. The photographs were taken by Vershire photographer John Douglas. The “My Favorite Book” project was funded by The Sunup Foundation in memory of long-time Howe volunteer Joy Lange Boardman.

Colby-Sawyer College in New London shows recent work by the college’s fine arts faculty in the school’s Marian Graves Mugar Art Gallery. Artists in the show include Loretta S.W. Barnett, Lucy Covello-Mink, David Ernster, Nicholas Gaffney, Douglas Harp, Jon Keenan, Mary Mead, Julie Puttgen, Hilary Walrod and Bert Yarborough.

∎ “From the Mountains to the Sea: Plants, Trees, and Shrubs of New England,” the first traveling exhibition of The New England Society of Botanical Artists, is on view at the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. The show features portraits of more than 60 plants and is designed to promote public appreciation of botanical art and the diversity and beauty of plants in our own backyards.

The Jaffe-Friede Gallery in Dartmouth’s Hopkins Center hosts “Attention,” a series of five print projects by the Philadelpha artist Daniel Heyman. Heyman, a 1985 Dartmouth graduate, has focused his attention on the victims of abuse in Iraq’s notorious Abu Ghraib prison during the American occupation.

Aidron Duckworth Art Museum in Meriden exhibits mixed media work by Alton, N.H., artist Amparo Carvajal-Hufschmid. Also at the museum: “Interiority,” large works on canvas from 1979-1981 by Aidron Duckworth and an outdoor exhibition of sculpture by Fitzhugh Karol, an Orford native now living in Brooklyn, N.Y., which will remain on view into the fall.

∎ Zollikofer Gallery, in White River Junction’s Hotel Coolidge, hosts “Ordinary Beauty,” photographs by Carla Kimball. A reception is planned for Nov. 1, 5 to 7 p.m.

∎ Fall art shows at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center include mixed media from Long River Studios in Lyme; colored pencil drawings by Corrina Thurston; pen and ink and watercolors by Lone Mountain Artists; photographs by C.E. Morse; and pen and inks and watercolors by Carole-Anne Centre.

∎ “Landscape Reveries,” acrylic paintings that explore the elements of earth, air, fire and especially water, by Georgina Forbes, is on view in Norwich Public Library.

Springfield, Vt., native Jamie Townsend is the featured artist at Sculpturefest, the annual exhibition at the Woodstock home of Charlet and Peter Davenport and the nearby King Farm. Sculpturefest adds a third venue this year with a small exhibition of sculpture at the Woodstock History Center. Directions to the Sculpturefest sites are available at www.sculpturefest.org.

∎ Tunbridge Library hosts an exhibition of photographs by Tunbridge native Emily Ferro.

∎ Giovanna Lepore shows “New Small Works,” recent oil and watercolor paintings at Galleria Giovanna Fine Art in Canaan. Sales benefit the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests. The gallery is located at 313 River Road, Canaan. For more info visit giovannalepore.com.

Art Notes appears in the “Valley News” on Thursday. Send email to artnotes@vnews.com.