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Sculpture installations begin in Franconia

Bob Montagno and Bill Mellekas help Connecticut sculpture artist R. Douglass Rice and his wife install Evolution, the first of nearly fifteen sculptures coming to Franconia for the inaugural installation of the Franconia Artwork. (Photo by Angel Larcom) (click for larger version)
June 20, 2019
FRANCONIA — The first of several sculptures slated for installation on Franconia's new sculpture trail arrived on June 13 from Stonington, Connecticut. Douglass Rice, a juried member of the New England Sculpture Association (NESA), installed 'Evolution,' a series of five significant sculptural works made of powder coated aluminum.

Evolution is currently on display on the lawn between the Franconia Town Hall and the Allie Greenleaf Public Library. According to Rice, a former builder in Manhattan, this is the fourth installation of the piece since its creation in 2017. It was previously displayed at the Wellesley Train Station in Massachusetts.

Although Rice had a successful construction career in New York City and was born in California, he has ties to New Hampshire. He attended Phillips Exeter Academy, where he was exposed to the sculptural arts by Richard Lyman before attending college at Stanford University.

When talking about his transition from builder to artist and working with three-dimensional forms, Rice said, "You begin to learn the limits of the materials. As a builder, I understand materials and tools, and I started working with copper."

Today, Rice is retired and devotes his time entirely to sculpture and painting. He was a board member of the Bronx Museum of the Arts for ten years, serving as the chair from 2009 until 2013. He is currently Chair Emeritus of the museum.

Residents and visitors can expect to see more sculptures popping up along a one-mile stretch that parallels the Gale River in the heart of Franconia. The art walk is slated to extend from Iron Furnace Brewing to Plain Kate's Riverside Saloon and includes a youth exhibit at the Lafayette School.

The inaugural year of the Franconia Artwalk kicks off in early July with opening ceremonies scheduled for July 5, during Old Home Days weekend. Live foundry demonstrations, hosted by Tarleton Castle Arts and led by Cassidy Rehl, will occur at the newly constructed Dow Gazebo.

In addition to 'Evolution,' original works by other NESA members and several local artists will also be on display from July to October. The Littleton Studio School will contribute a collaborative clay totem pole, and Valery Mahuchy and Philip Reeder, both of 42 Maple Contemporary Arts Center in Bethlehem, are also installing art pieces.

Art walk maps are currently in development by Ed Rolfe of Wilderness Map Company and will be made available to the public on July 5. Participating businesses include Garnet Hill, Franconia Notch Vacations, the Hungry Bear Cafe, Woodsville Guaranty Savings Bank, Dutch Treat Restaurant, Franconia Village Store, the Franconia Coffee House, Peabody and Smith Realty, and the Franconia Heritage Museum.

The Franconia Artwalk Association is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on developing art-related activities to draw visitors and boost the local economy. More information about the artwalk and detailed event schedules can be found online at www.artwalkfranconianh.org.

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