Upcoming ‘Fashion Statement’ show at Mill Brook Galley brings female artists together
A funny thing used to happen to Jeanne Lachance when she’d stumble on a Victorian blouse in her travels to antique shops.
“They were so old and battered, but when I would touch them this name would come to me,” the artist from Goffstown said. “I’m not trying to sound crazy. But right away when I’d find a blouse, the name would come, like my first one was called the ‘Empty Woman.’ ”
So, with the name in mind, Lachance would put pencil to paper drawing the dress, uninhabited on a hangar. Though she would honestly represent the garment, it was the garment imbued with the weight of whatever name she heard in her head: empty, proud, trapped, elegant.
“When I did the empty woman, she was just hanging there. You knew it was about a woman who’s soul was empty. But the proud woman, even though it was an old dress, she was still powerful. You could sense that she was still there.”
Lachance did a series of seven over the course of 30 years. Her eighth and final dress, “The Widow,” will be on display as part of the “Fashion Statement” Exhibit at the Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden in Concord.
Pamela Tarbell said the show is intended to be a “multigenerational thing that is bringing the history of women together in beautiful ways.”
To that end, 15 female artists have interpreted fashion,
each in her own way. For example, New Hampshire artist Gail Smuda made a miniature wedding dress from antique handkerchiefs. Artist Elizabeth Obelenus, who recently died of cancer, made shoes covered in birch bark and solidly standing upon roots.
“She was very into health food and the farmers market and those kinds of things,” Tarbell said of Obelenus’s work. “And those (shoes) reflect the sorts of things she was interested in.”
As for the work Lachance will contribute to the show, she said “The Widow,” is a very emotional piece for her.
“I hadn’t done any blouses for a long, long time,” Lachance said. “I started it, and it really came very difficult. My sister was dying. She died in March. And as I’m working on this dress I was talking to my sister every day, she lived in Florida. So it was a very emotional time for me.”
Using pencil and oil pastels, she created an old widow’s dress that was jet black in reality, but in the drawing, Lachance added blues and orchids.
“It’s not the least bit cheery,” she said.” I think (the viewing public) will sense the finality. It’s the end of my dresses. I’m not going to do anymore, and I don’t know. When I look at it, I feel very sad.”
Other artists in the show include Madeline Beaudry, Kathleen Dustin, Leslie Fry, Annie Frye, Betsy Giberson, Camille Gibson, Madeleine Lord, Ginny Joyner, Christine Merriman, Patricia Palson, Ilene Richard and Alice Spencer.
The show opens July 5 and runs through Sept. 29, with an opening reception July 11 from 5 to 8 p.m.
Also on display at Mill Brook is the 16th annual outdoor sculpture exhibit, which includes work from 33 sculptors from New Hampshire, Connecticut, Massachusetts, Maine, Vermont and New York. Included in the show will be work by Michael Alfano, John Weidman and Leslie Fry, among many others.
The show is open now and runs through Nov. 2.
Gallery hours are Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and by appointment. For information, call 226-2046. The Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Garden is located at 236 Hopkinton Road in Concord.