Celebrating Peg Dalton's 65-Year History with the NAA - A Graceful Force

It was a clear, brisk winter morning along the Merrimac River.  Annemarie Smith (NAA Assistant Director) and I had finally scheduled a long planned visit with Peg Dalton.  Fellow NAA artist member and dear friend of Peg’s Peggy Omer joined us, as did the lovely Kate Richards who is one of her dedicated caretakers.  We met with Peg at her home in Amesbury, MA. 

Peg was one of the very first “old timers” I met when I arrived at the NAA – five years ago - and even then I was stunned by her stamina and enthusiasm.  Over these last few years, Peg has become a role model for me – she is the personification of “aging gracefully” while bearing chronic, debilitating back and leg pain.  I was eager to invite Peg to tell us her story and about her affiliation with the NAA.

Peg was born the 9th of June 1919. She is 96 years old today.  Peg became a member of the Newburyport Art Association in 1950; she has remained a member for the last 65 years and seen a lot of changes over the years.  Peg became involved before the NAA occupied its current home at 65 Water Street.  A small group of interested artists would gather in venues across Newburyport.  Initially disappointed by a dance held to try and organize NAA membership that proved  unsuccessful, she remained steadfast, and with other artist friends, stayed involved.   During the 1960s membership hovered around 60 (one tenth of what it is today).  In 1968 the NAA purchased the 1795 building at 65 Water Street and became a full-fledged not-for-profit organization in 1971.

During the 1970s one of Peg’s close artist colleagues, Margette Leanna, began to introduce some changes at the NAA aimed at creating a more rigorous art association.  One of the big changes Peg witnessed during this period was the introduction of outside jurors for the NAA exhibitions – this strengthened the tenor of the association for artist participants and visitors to the NAA.  Officers of the Association were introduced to lead and coordinate the work of the NAA.  Peg herself would go on to serve as President of the Newburyport Art Association between 1982 and 1983. 

Much of Peg’s legacy at the NAA stems from her role as an instructor.   It was Mildred Hartson, one of the NAA’s founding members, who encouraged Peg to take up the teaching of art.  Peg taught art to elementary school children for 30 years – she focused her teaching on drawing and still life images.  Classes took place once a week with 6-7 students in each class.   

Peg was married for 60 years to Howard who was the founder and owner of a local manufacturing company.  Howard died in 2004 and Peg established an award program in his memory at the NAA – each Spring the NAA recognizes the work a young artist with the Howard A. Dalton Memorial Award.  After Howard died, their son took over the business.  He and his two sisters remain in the area and assist with Peg’s care.  Despite her health challenges, Peg continues to enter work in NAA shows and assist with the jury days, still alongside her friends Margette and Peggy.  She delights in sharing that her granddaughter Jennifer graduated with a degree in art therapy and now works in the field.  Jennifer says that she owes her passion and career to Peg.  I can see Peg's eyes twinkling as I recall her telling us this story.

When asked what the highlights have been for her at the NAA, she points to three specifics: 1) the opportunity for all artists to enter a juried show, 2) moving away from the early “club” culture of the association, and 3) retaining the participation of professional artists which she claims has increased the quality of the work over the years three-fold.

We wrapped up our visit with some light-hearted questions:

How did you become interested in art?

In my 20s, I had a friend who was also interested in art and my father always drew.

Do you have a favorite subject?

Flowers

Is there a genre of art that you like or dislike particularly?

I am not fond of abstract art.

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment in art?

Having my work accepted into juried shows and teaching children.

What is your most prized possession among your art tools?

A really good brush is most prized when painting, good bristles are a must.

Is there a journey or trip you remember with special fondness?

I remember the first time Howard and I drove the RV and our car all the way to Florida.  He drove the RV and I drove the car, alone, for any distance, for the first time – and I did it!  We would make the same trip for many years after.

Who would you come back as?

An Impressionist artist.

What is your least liked phrase in art?

“It’s done.  I can’t do anything more to it.”

What is your motto?

…she thought a long time about her answer and we were happy to wait as we knew it would be important…

“Don’t procrastinate.”

 

It was an honor to have this time with Peg. 

Posted by Elena Bachrach, ED, NAA

12-22-15

Public Art

How It Brings Communities Together

 

As If It Were Already Here, Janet Echelman

BY ITS NATURE, ALL ART AT ANY GIVEN TIME HAS BEEN PROVOCATIVE; IT IS MEANT TO STIMULATE THE SENSES AND ENGAGE THE VIEWER. 

 

                    The Gates by Christo, Central Park, NYC, September 2005 Photo: Johnson Flickr

                    The Gates by Christo, Central Park, NYC, September 2005 Photo: Johnson Flickr


Barnett Newman Broken Obelisk installed in the reflecting pool designed by Philip Johnson outside of the Rothko Chapel in Houston TX

Barnett Newman Broken Obelisk installed in the reflecting pool designed by Philip Johnson outside of the Rothko Chapel in Houston TX

The words “public art” seem to ignite more controversy and confrontation than many works of art presented in today's contemporary museums. After all, by placing art in our community we are making a somewhat universal statement about our taste.  We are curating the aesthetics of a piece of art for our neighbors and visitors.

Richard Sierra, Wake, Seattle WA

Richard Sierra, Wake, Seattle WA

Has public art become a cultural intervention on the part of certain arbiters of sophistication, or is art in the public realm a way of engaging the society?  Does it give our community a sense of place or well-being in society or is that too much to ask of art?  “At its most public, art extends opportunities for community engagement but cannot demand a particular conclusion.”Knight, Cher Krause (2008). Public Art: theory, practice and populism

Once public art referred only to monuments and memorials. These are perhaps the oldest and most obvious form of officially sanctioned public art.

 

IMG_3776.jpg

 

Architectural sculpture and even architecture itself is more widespread and fulfills the definition of public art. 

Frank Gehry, EMP Museum, Seattle, WA

Frank Gehry, EMP Museum, Seattle, WA

Others through pointing at the incongruities of existing public sculptures and memorials, such as in Krzysztof Wodiczko’s video projections onto urban monuments, or in the building of counter-monuments (1980s) and Claes Oldenburg’s Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks (1969-1974), a giant hybrid pop object – a lipstick. Most aspects of the built environment are seen as legitimate candidates for consideration as, or location for, public art, including street furniture, street lighting, Lock On sculptures and graffiti. Banksy is one exampl

Public art in recent years has introduced social ideas, and by doing so, has increased the controversy surrounding a particular artist’s intent.  Making visible issues of public concern in the public sphere is also at the basis of the anti-monument philosophy, whose target is mining the ideology of official history.

Introducing intimate elements in public spaces normally devoted to institutional narratives, such as in the work of Jenny Holzer, Alfredo Jaar’s projects and Felix Gonzales-Torres’ billboard images (see above).

Sculpture intended as public art is often constructed of durable, easily cared-for material, to avoid the worst effects of the elements and vandalism; however, many works are intended to have only a brief existence and are made of more temporary materials.

Some artists working in this discipline use the freedom afforded by an outdoor site to create very large works that would be unfeasible in a gallery. The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy has brought to Boston a monumental sculpture, As If It Were Already Here, from internationally renowned local artist, Janet Echelman (statement)  Here the artist uses over 100 miles of rope weighing one ton to cover half an acre. See our opening image.

Amongst the works of the last thirty years that have met greatest critical and popular acclaim are pieces by Christo, Robert Smithson, Andy Goldsworthy, James Turrell and Antony Gormley, whose artwork reacts to or incorporates its environment.

Artists making public art range from the greatest masters such as Michelangelo, Pablo Picasso, and Joan Miró, to those who specialize in public art such as Claes Oldenburg and Pierre Granche, to anonymous artists who make surreptitious interventions.  

Boston's most beloved work of public art remains the Ducklings. 

 

 

Newburyport has public art in the Somerby's Landing Sculpture Park:

 

                               Robert Motes - An Imagined Place

                               Robert Motes - An Imagined Place

The NAA is currently engaged in seeking proposals for a sculptural installation to be attached to the façade of our building at 45 Water Street.  We believe, as our mission states, “Art is For Everyone”.  We hope by creating this opportunity for artists, we will not only engage people from our surrounding cities and towns, but we will connect with communities to discuss art and what it means to each of us.

 

 

Sculpture, Sculpture, Sculpture

This past weekend I had the gift of some much needed time with two old friends, we have been friends for nearly 35 years.  Aside from the time we made to simply talk together, we also made time for some fun NYC plans for the weekend.  At the top of the list was the Picasso Sculpture exhibit at the Museum of Modern Art in midtown Manhattan (on view through February 7, 2016).  I had read about it of course, but no written word could have prepared me for the expanse of the exhibition, the force of Picasso's three-dimensional works, and the genius on display.   I had that rare sense I was viewing something that would live inside me for a lifetime.   Here are just a few of my favorites.

 

As it happens, and more will be said about this elsewhere, the capital project campaign for the Newburyport Art Association's Range Light Community Sculpture Garden concluded only just ten days ago.  This success, due to the hard work of so many, was achieved well before our December 31, 2015 self-imposed deadline.  The achievement of raising over $125,000 for the Range Light Community Sculpture Garden is a unique feat for the NAA and ensures a permanent, beautiful space on the waterfront for annual outdoor sculpture exhibitions to be juried and curated by the NAA Curatorial Committee for the Community Sculpture Garden.  Stay tuned for further details and look for the first exhibition to open in Fall 2016!

Elena Bachrach

ps if you plan to be in NYC in the near future, I would also highly recommend The Gin Game with James Earl Jones and Cecily Tyson - I still have goose bumps!

 

 

 

Iceland and Spain

My summer through Europe by Sevine Clarey  (NAA's Social Media Intern)

Iceland - June 22nd to July 7th

Reykjavik, Iceland-“The Sun Voyager” overlooking the sea. Sun Voyager is an ode to the sun: the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.

Reykjavik, Iceland-“The Sun Voyager” overlooking the sea. Sun Voyager is an ode to the sun: the promise of undiscovered territory, a dream of hope, progress and freedom.

Reykjavik, Iceland- Typical Icelandic houses in the city center

Reykjavik, Iceland- Typical Icelandic houses in the city center

Reykir, Iceland- Music festival overlooking Drangey Island. Icelanders in their typical wool sweaters, usually knit by their grandmothers.  This is the darkest it ever gets in the summer.

Reykir, Iceland- Music festival overlooking Drangey Island. Icelanders in their typical wool sweaters, usually knit by their grandmothers. 

This is the darkest it ever gets in the summer.

Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland- Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum where we tried fermented shark...tastes like very rotten cheese.  Shark meat hanging for fermentation

Snæfellsnes Peninsula, Iceland- Bjarnarhöfn Shark Museum where we tried fermented shark...tastes like very rotten cheese. 

Shark meat hanging for fermentation

Seljavallalaug, Iceland- Due to its geothermal activity, Iceland is teeming wit natural hot springs and geysers.  We hiked to a hidden natural hot spring located at the base of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. It is free to anyone who can find it.

Seljavallalaug, Iceland- Due to its geothermal activity, Iceland is teeming wit natural hot springs and geysers. 

We hiked to a hidden natural hot spring located at the base of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano. It is free to anyone who can find it.

Vik, Iceland- The beautiful volcanic, black-sanded beaches of the southern coast. 

Vik, Iceland- The beautiful volcanic, black-sanded beaches of the southern coast. 

Þórsmörk National Park, Iceland- A glacier lake at the end of a long day hike to two newly formed volcanos. 

Þórsmörk National Park, Iceland- A glacier lake at the end of a long day hike to two newly formed volcanos. 

Spain-August 16th to 30th 

Nerja, Spain- Spent two weeks in this little Andalusian city as part of a Spanish immersion program.

Nerja, Spain- Spent two weeks in this little Andalusian city as part of a Spanish immersion program.

Malaga, Spain- Visiting the Alcazaba during the annual Malaga Feria 

Malaga, Spain- Visiting the Alcazaba during the annual Malaga Feria 

Granada, Spain- What you can see of the Alhambra for free

Granada, Spain- What you can see of the Alhambra for free

Granada, Spain- The Alhambra seen from the gipsy caves at sunset.

Granada, Spain- The Alhambra seen from the gipsy caves at sunset.

Frigiliana, Spain- Cultural festival with everything from tapas to handmade incense to street bellydancing.

Frigiliana, Spain- Cultural festival with everything from tapas to handmade incense to street bellydancing.