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St. Kieran's hosts Hughes retrospective

The exhibition centerpiece, a wood bas relief on loan from Citizens Bank, and a wooden Don Quixote sculpture. (Photo by Erik Eisele) (click for larger version)
July 15, 2009
BERLIN — The St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts held an opening reception on Saturday for its newest visual arts exhibition, a retrospective for Robert Hughes. Around 50 people attended to view his art and share memories of the artist, who died in 2004.

The speakers reminisced about Mr. Hughes' passion for classical music, sculpture and teaching. He taught art in the city's public schools for 43 years.

"The legacy he left behind was his artwork, but the legacy is also us," said Andre Belanger, an artist who apprenticed under Mr. Hughes.

He said that Mr. Hughes was part of a larger movement trying to bring culture to the area.

"We're the living museum those folks dreamed of," he said.

The center brought together nearly 100 works, from sculptures and mobiles to prints and paintings. The pieces were on loan from 18 donors.

In the background played classical music, which was an integral part of both Mr. Hughes' studio and his classroom.

Mr. Hughes' wife Marie shared memories not only of her late husband's passion for culture but also his sense of humor.

"He used to say, 'Everything is for sale, except for Marie. And she's for rent,'" she said.

She and the other speakers tried to capture the essence of Mr. Hughes to share with the audience. But their stories were aided by the art, which oozed Mr. Hughes' essence.

There will be another event dedicated to sharing memories of Mr. Hughes. An Evening to Reminisce is schedule for July 30 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the center. Mrs. Hughes said she was saving some of her best memories for that event.

People on Saturday shared their own memories, wandering around the St. Kieran's periphery, looking at the works on the walls, saying hello to friends.

"This has been a really big show for us," said Joan Chamberlain, executive director for the St. Kieran Community Center for the Arts. She said this is only the second year the center has featured visual art. This show has been a success, earning them a cover piece in the Manchester Union Leader.

The center, which is in its ninth year, has been hosting between four and five shows in the last two years. Mrs. Chamberlain said it compliments the center's musical offerings nicely.

The Robert Hughes Retrospective is sponsored by Public Service of New Hampshire and the Berlin-Gorham Rotary. The gallery is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m, and the exhibition will be up until Sept. 28.

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