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Downtown: Concord classes offer artistic outlet for women in recovery

  • Bobbie Herron sits by the main office of Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord to sketch on a sunny day Friday, June 8, 2017. Maddie Vanderpool / Monitor staff

  • Bobbie Herron sits on the steps of the main office at Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord to sketch the studio art building on a sunny day Friday, June 8, 2017. Maddie Vanderpool / Monitor staff

  • Bobbie Herron works on a sketch of a Kimball Jenkins building for the studio arts on Friday, June 8, 2017. Maddie Vanderpool / Monitor staff

  • Bobbie Herron sits by the main office of Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord to sketch one of the buildings on Friday, June 8, 2017. Maddie Vanderpool / Monitor staff

  • Bobbie Herron sketches the studio art building Friday, June 8, 2017, at Kimball Jenkins School of Art in Concord, where she teaches classes. Maddie Vanderpool / Monitor staff



Monitor staff
Monday, June 11, 2018

Wanted: Young women in recovery looking for an outlet through art.

Charge: None – the program, which will have two separate classes, one for girls ages 15-17 and one for women ages 18-22 – is called the Haley Rae Martin Creative Recovery program. It’s funded by the same scholarship that brought you the downtown mural on the side of the CVS building and the one that hangs from the Ralph Pill building.

Time Commitment: four Wednesday evenings, with the class for older students starting this week at the Kimball Jenkins Estate School of Art. The class for younger students will begin July 10.

Sound good? Contact Kimball Jenkins Managing Director Ryan Linehan – the courses accept eight students apiece and are currently wide open. If the program succeeds, it will become an annual fixture at the school, he said.

“It’s not meant to be therapy; it’s not counseling,” Linehan said. “It’s an effort at self-expression, meant to build self-confidence and self-respect.”

For instructor Bobbie Herron, it’s hard to not see art as a form of therapy. She’s celebrating 26 years sober herself, and she said she can’t remember a time before she viewed herself as an artist.

But her artistic career was not a straight line, or even a continuous one. In the 1990s, a chronic disease caused her to lose some of her eyesight, which made creating a lot more difficult.

“I was so angry that the art that came easily to me wasn’t doing so anymore,” she said. “I decided I wasn’t going to love it anymore, I wasn’t going to compete against who I used to be.”

Addiction is like that, Herron said. You tell yourself a narrative that isn’t true, you reach for something to dull the pain, and “you’re off and running,” she said.

She threw away her sketchbooks and watercolor paints – the same mediums she’ll be using with students – and she didn’t paint for 20 years. It wasn’t until Herron heard a segment on New Hampshire Public Radio with host Virginia Prescott that she was inspired to pick up a sketchbook again.

Instructor Pat Wild had a similar take. An “expressive artist,” she deals in sound, singing, instruments, writing and movement, and she said that although art cannot replace traditional therapy, it can often have a similar effect of dredging up feelings and truths previously buried.

“It’s always about inner work,” she said. “It’s not really thinking; it’s knowing what you know, but in a different way.”

Wild said her goal will be to create experiences that get her students past their thinking brains and access something deeper. Art, she said, “takes you to places inside you where you have all the answers – you just need to know how to access that.”

The Haley Rae Martin Scholarship is named after a young Northwood woman who died in 2012.

For information about the program, contact Linehan at 415-1626. To sign up, visit kimballjenkins.com/recovery.

Pool party

The city will be holding a celebration for the reopening of the Keach Park pool starting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

This marks the third stage in a multiyear effort to revamp all seven of the city’s pools; the pools at Kimball Park and Rolfe Park have also seen recent upgrades.

Concord and Penacook residents can get into the pool for free with an ID; anyone else may purchase a $113 pass at the City-Wide Community Center to get access to all seven pools for the season.

Community spaces

Speaking of openings, the City-Wide Community Center is open as of Monday. The satellite library will be open starting Tuesday.

(Caitlin Andrews can be reached at 369-3309, candrews@cmonitor.com or on Twitter at @ActualCAndrews.)