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Keeping an eye on the city

Artist plays with video, 3D and people on the street

  • The projection of an eyeball peers out from the window of Tom Devaney's studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The projection of an eyeball peers out from the window of Tom Devaney's studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Megan Doyle, towns reporter. September 17, 2013 <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Megan Doyle, towns reporter. September 17, 2013

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The projection of an eyeball peers out from the window of Tom Devaney's studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Tom Devaney stands for a portrait in his studio on the corner of Main and Pleasant Streets in Concord on Thursday, June 19, 2014. The laptop that he uses to run the projections on his sculptures is next to him. His studio's name is Tom Devaney Fine Art. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Megan Doyle, towns reporter. September 17, 2013 <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Tom Devaney is watching you.

The 50-year-old artist has bright blue eyes, framed by slim silver glasses. And most nights, one of those blue eyes blinks its 10-foot-by-6-foot lid over the intersection of Pleasant and Main streets in downtown Concord.

“This is an experimental piece right now,” Devaney said.

He was standing next to a curved screen in the center of the T. Devaney Fine Arts gallery floor, where most nights he projects a video of his own eyeball. Passersby can spot Devaney’s larger-than-life pupil blinking and moving from behind floor-to-ceiling windows.

“Everybody gets to see me, and I get to see everybody, too,” Devaney said, as mid-morning traffic moved below the gallery. “That’s part of the joke of the eyeball.”

The artist chose his second-story gallery for the light that floods in from those big windows, the peace of the studio with a view of downtown and a door off the main drag. The eyeball lends itself to deeper messages

about technology and the modern world for some, he said, but Devaney just wants people who see the eye to also see a growing creative scene in Concord.

“We try to let people know that this is a vibrant place for the arts,” he said.

The eyeball was Devaney’s first go at what he calls “3D video mapping,” when he creates an image or video on a computer to project on the surface of his sculptures.

“It adds an element of time and movement to a static object,” he said.

His work is often layered with multiple figures and hard edges, like one sculpture he has placed next to one of the gallery’s windows. The word “Love” is carved into its surface, along with the Greek mythological figure Prometheus, a bird’s beak and other faces. A video projected on its complex surface can direct the viewer’s attention to one element at a time, Devaney said, so a complicated piece of art becomes more approachable.

“I’ll give you some clues as to what I’m trying to talk about,” he said.

Devaney, who has worked in Concord for eight years and in art for more than 20, taught himself most of this video technology. His resume touts a bachelor’s degree of fine arts in sculpture from Boston University and a master’s degree of fine arts in sculpture from the University of Michigan. He also teaches at NHTI.

He was inspired to try 3D video mapping when he saw other artists use this technique for large-scale performance pieces. But those are dramatic, like the video a team of animators projected onto the side of the massive Royal Towers Hotel in Dubai several years ago.

But Devaney’s work is more thoughtful than theatrical.

“It’s a much more subtle kind of experience,” he said of the eye.

He’s also created a network that lets him monitor his eyeball from home. He can turn it on or off remotely, to spook or surprise friends walking through downtown. Most nights, he projects his own eye; on other nights, a female eye with lots of makeup. He can add snowflakes or lightning strikes to reflect the weather. On the eve of last year’s Halloween Howl, he switched the eyeball out with a cartoon image of Jack Skellington.

Devaney is looking toward a January art show at St. Paul’s School, where he said he wants to display more projects that combine video and sculpture. The nightly video will stay in the meantime, he said, and his smile extended behind his glasses as he stood next to his projection screen.

“It keeps an eye on the neighborhood,” he said.

Going once, going twice

The prominent downtown building known as the Vegas Block is scheduled for public auction today. At the intersection of North Main Street and Loudon Road, the Vegas Block has more than 30 upper-story apartments and several vacant storefronts on the street level. The current owner, Emin Halilovic, bought the building in 2008 for $2.45 million, and he inherited more than $20,000 in unpaid bills from the previous owner. Since then, he has struggled to maintain the building and keep up with its expenses.

His partner, Nina Mujakovic, told the Monitor earlier this month that the property taxes had been too draining to update the property.

“The city scraped every extra dollar we could put back into the property,” Mujakovic said.

The public auction will begin at the Vegas Block at 11 a.m.

An old city, a new beer

603 Brewery is raising a glass to celebrate Concord’s 250th anniversary next year. The Londonderry-based brewery has created an American pale ale called “CCL,” which are the Roman numerals for 250, in honor of the city’s milestone birthday.

Chris Brown, president of the New Hampshire Distributors, first approached the brewery’s team with the idea to market a commemorative beer along with their other products.

“It’s a great opportunity to celebrate Concord’s history, (and) develop 603 as far as a craft brewery in the state,” Brown said.

Geoff Hewes of 603 Brewery said the beer technically falls into the traditional IPA category, but “we’re calling it an American ale as a tribute to a great American city.”

The beer is already on draft in several Concord restaurants including the Barley House and the Draft, and Brown said he hopes to see it in 10 to 12 local restaurants soon. The beer will also soon be for sale in 22-ounce bottles with a commemorative label in area stores. For more information, visit 603brewery.com.

Happy birthday

It’s been 30 years since Donna Mark started her business in her basement, and Caring Gifts will mark its birthday with a two-day sale this week.

Mark remembered one of her first products, a diaper bag she would send to Concord Hospital for new moms. It came with a baby bottle, full of pink, white and blue jelly beans.

“We would sit on the floor and fill bottles with jelly beans,” her husband, Gerry Mark, said.

The couple now runs the business together, along with their friend Sue Phillips. They moved the shop from the basement, to 28 S. Main St. (now the home of New England Cupcakery), to 11 Hills Ave. (now Hermanos Cocina Mexicana). In 1991, Caring Gifts moved to its current location at 18 N. Main St.

In addition to its retail store, Caring Gifts specializes in original gift baskets and personalized gifts. Its 30 years in business have included gifts for large organizations such as Manchester’s Catholic Medical Center or for smaller events such as birthdays and weddings. “You can create and be original,” Donna said of her work.

Everything in the store will be 30 percent off Thursday and Friday.

(Megan Doyle can be reached at 369-3321 or mdoyle@cmonitor.com or on Twitter @megan_e_doyle.)

Legacy Comments1

With all due respect to Tom Devaney's "bright blue eyes", the photo above depicts one of Concord's finest pieces of architecture "keeping an eye on the city". That would be the Aquila Chase building, of course. Check out the beautiful bay windows, the arched examples to the right, the dovetailed corners, and the diamond detail up under its eaves. Plus, it's all done up in yellow brick. This is one flat-out gorgeous building. Great shot of it, too, Andrea.

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