“It’s all open space … one whole wall is all windows, and the river literally abuts the building. It just makes it special because of the atmosphere,” describes Mindy Taylor, gallery manager at Fry Fine Art in Peterborough.
The light-filled gallery space she describes has been a longtime dream of owner Stanley Fry, a well-known businessman, entrepreneur and art collector from Peterborough.
His dream finally came to fruition in December of last year when Fry Fine Art opened downtown at 36 Grove St.
“It’s a really great contribution to the community,” Taylor says, who describes the gallery’s mission as creating an atmosphere that welcomes anyone to come in and partake in the art.
“The main part of the gallery is kind of like a mix …There’s really no theme of sorts,” she describes.
It primarily features late 19th and early 20th-century impressionism; Taylor follows a seasonal flow as she curates.
“In the winter, I had more snow scenes out, and as soon as the middle of April arrived, I said: ‘That’s it, I’m taking them all down,’” she says with a laugh.
Among the art, the main gallery also showcases furniture, including pieces from Shaker Style, a business based in Harrisville, New Hampshire, and run by Stephen and Cheryl Barlow. A third-generation woodworker, Stephen Barlow designs and builds signature pieces of handcrafted furniture. The classic, sophisticated style is an excellent match for the gallery.
Fry Fine Art’s main space also features other furniture items, handcrafted but not by locals, such as a mahogany side table from 1760.
“It’s still with us today. This stuff is timeless; it’s classic; it’s beautiful,” Taylor describes.
The back part of the shop displays art from Fry’s collection and has included themes, such as “Art in BLOOM” and “Monadnock Inspired Landscapes.” Taylor began work on a new exhibit for that space over the summer and is excited to share it with visitors this fall.
Also new for autumn is an exhibition titled “The Chi of Clouds” — New Works by Daryl D. Johnson. Johnson, whose studio is based in Amherst, New Hampshire, specializes in landscapes and nature art drawn from the beauty of New Hampshire. Her show at Fry Fine Art will run from Sept. 7 to Oct. 28, 2018, with an opening reception on Friday, Sept. 7 from 5-7 p.m.
GALLERY OPENINGS AND LOCAL ARTISTS
With wine, charcuterie and an energetic atmosphere, the Fry gallery’s openings are already becoming known as must-attend events. Johnson’s work will be shown in the Pelletier Studio, a section of the shop dedicated to the work of local artists.
“We have made that space in honor of Peter Pelletier, who inspired many people in the region to be art lovers, including Stan Fry,” Taylor notes.
Pelletier was a lifetime resident, an art dealer and the owner of a downtown gallery in Peterborough.
Taylor says the Pelletier Studio “has been such a hit with the local artists that I’m booked through 2019.”
Typically, gallery space is hard to find and quite expensive for artists.
“We only charge a commission on pieces over a certain price point so that the artist has a chance to make all that money themselves,” Taylor explains.
People are coming in all the time to submit their work and Taylor says she has been thrilled to meet so many wonderful, talented artists from the area.
“That’s the part I really like — building relationships and having a great time with the folks that come in here,” she says.
Taylor’s background is in hospitality, and she believes that lends a unique and beneficial perspective to her role. She and Fry have been collaborating for nearly seven years and Taylor has managed his private art collection throughout numerous projects.
Most recently, Fry loaned about 200 objects from his permanent collection to nearby museums; 85 went to the Whistler House Museum of Art in Lowell, Massachusetts, for an exhibit titled “Allure of Venice,” featuring the works of Walter Franklin Lansil (an American painter born in 1846 in Bangor, Maine). Another 120 went to the Springfield Museums in Springfield, Massachusetts, for a show called “Two Lives One Passion,” highlighting American impressionist paintings and sketches by William Jurian Kaula and Lee Lufkin Kaula (an artist couple who met in the late 1800s, married in 1902, and spent their summers painting in New Ipswich, New Hampshire).
“It’s just nice that he’s sharing his art with the community,” Taylor says of Fry. “I think that a part of any business — the important part is your relationship with the community.”
A WELCOMING ATMOSPHERE
Thus far, Fry Fine Art has attracted a mix of locals and tourists.
“A lot of them live in New York City, and they have lake houses here, so they come in the summertime for the Players,” notes Taylor.
Most people who purchase are from outside the area and have a second home in the region. However, Taylor wants to ensure that everyone feels welcome.
“I want people to be able to feel like there’s an atmosphere where it’s OK to come in and look and not buy anything,” she says.
Her goal is to make the art accessible.
“What I want is for people to be exposed to the beautiful art whether or not they can buy it,” she says.
Paintings in the shop range from $200 to $25,000 with lower cost pieces frequently being purchased as gifts for a special occasion, such as an anniversary.
“A lot of women have bought nice paintings for their husbands for their birthdays,” Taylor says.
But she has an awareness that selecting just the right piece can be tricky.
“Paintings are personal. It has to be the right palette, the right subject matter, the right size for your home,” she notes.
Each piece in the gallery feels personal to her, and she remembers the name and face of every purchaser.
She says, “It’s maybe like rescuing a puppy when they finally get to go home.”
She recalls a recent visit from a gentleman new to the area who stopped in after breakfast at Nonie’s. Almost immediately, he came upon a painting of Bass River and told her, “I just moved here after living in the landscape of that painting for 40 years.”
He bought the painting on the spot for his new home in Dublin.
“What are the chances?” asks Taylor. “When you find that one person that comes in, it’s YES!” she says.
Learn more at www.fryfineart.com.
Caroline Tremblay writes from Fitzwilliam, New Hampshire.