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Keep watch for this art

Last modified: 8/18/2011 12:00:00 AM
What's on your refrigerator door? An old bottle opener? The pharmacist's phone number? That shopping list you always forget to take to the store?

A group of area artists want you to find something a little more inspiring when you reach for your morning yogurt or that box of leftover lo mein. The New Hampshire chapter of the Women's Caucus for the Arts, along with Warner photographer Tom Hosmer, is organizing a public art project that will bring miniature pieces of art from all over the world to a metal surface near you.

The Magnet Open Art Project works like this: Artists digitally submit a piece of artwork, which is then made into a miniature magnet. The magnets will be on display at a special "pop-up gallery" above the Barley House on Aug. 26 from 4 to 10 p.m. The next day, all of the 200-some pieces will be placed on storefronts along Main Street, free for the taking.

"It's really kind of a treasure hunt," said Laura Morrison, a Concord sculptor and co-organizer of the event. "the purpose is to get exposure for the artists and to put on a public art event . . . so people get pulled into this little art world."

That magnetism goes both ways, too. The project, which is now closed for entries, has attracted high-caliber New Hampshire artists such as David and Laurette Carroll and Melissa Miller, as well as established and aspiring artists from numerous countries including Denmark, Bosnia and New Zealand. "It's sort of like this big web, with this magnet show in the middle, and all these fibers that feed into it and out of it," said Hosmer, who got the idea for the show from one he saw in England organized by British artist Alban Low.

Hosmer was putting up a photography exhibition in the Red River Theatres lobby as Morrison was taking her exhibition down, and the two struck up a conversation about the idea. Morrison, who is exhibition committee co-chair for the Women's Caucus for the Arts, decided it would be a fun project for the group to get behind.

Low, who originally conceived of the idea, has helped

with the details and publicity. (He is also holding a Magnet Open Art Project of his own on the same day in Hastings, England.) Hosmer scored some old refrigerator doors from transfer stations in Salisbury and Bradford to display the art at the pop-up gallery, where it will share space with another art show that's open to all artists.

Despite its anything-goes approach, the magnet project has yielded an impressive collection of art.

"We haven't turned anything away," Hosmer said, "(but) we've found it's been mostly people who have some serious artistic ability."

"I have to say after looking at what art has been submitted, it's actually been really nice, very impressive," Morrison said.

Morrison is also excited about public support for the event. Numerous organizations, including the Currier Museum and Red River Theatres, have stepped up to sponsor the event, and Main Street business owners are enthusiastic about displaying the magnets.

Each magnet will have a number on it that will correspond with the digital version catalogued on the project's website, artconcord.blogspot.com. When someone picks up a magnet, they can go to the website and learn more about the artist.

Hosmer hopes that, in addition to getting exposure for the artists, the event will help put Concord on the map as an arts-friendly destination. "There are people around the world looking at this page," he said.

Organizers will put the magnets out in batches throughout the day Aug. 27, starting at about 9 a.m. They ask that each person take no more than one magnet. To get an early look at the art, visit artconcord.blogspot.com. To learn more about the Women's Caucus for the Arts, visit wcanh.org.


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