About Me

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Spofford, New Hampshire, United States
Jeff Newcomer has been a physician practicing in New Hampshire and Vermont for over 30 years. Over that time, as a member of the Conservation Commission in his home of Chesterfield New Hampshire, he has used his photography to promote the protection and appreciation of the town's wild lands. In recent years he has been transitioning his focus from medicine to photography, writing and teaching. Jeff enjoys photographing throughout New England, but has concentrated on the Monadnock Region and southern Vermont and has had a long term artistic relationship with Mount Monadnock. He is a featured artist in a number of local galleries and his work is often seen in regional print, web publications and in business installations throughout the country. For years Jeff has published a calendar celebrating the beauty of The New England country-side in all seasons. All of the proceeds from his New England Reflections Calendar have gone to support the Pulmonary Rehabilitation Program at the Cheshire Medical Center. Jeff has a strong commitment to sharing his excitement about the special beauty of our region and publishes a weekly blog about photography in New England.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Summer Outdoor Art Fesitivals


Showing the Work at the Keene Art in the Park

Today I am sitting in front of my tent at the Annual Art in the Park in Ashuelot River Park in Keene, New Hampshire.

I am not a summer art show fanatic. It is possible to spend every weekend at outdoor shows throughout New England and there are a

Ashuelot River Park Transformed, 85 tents
surprising number of people who travel like gypsies from show to show throughout the summer. They typically have specially modified truck and vans to carry their fancy display systems all designed to fit within the ubiquitous 10x10 Easy-Up Tent. I am fascinated to see their military precision as they construction display walls, racks, tables and decorations in less time than it takes me to precariously hang a few pictures from the support bars of my tent. They have their special elevated chairs and seem to have endless energy to chat and entertain there patrons.

I only do the Keene Show. I can't imagine spending the entire Summer tied to this chair when there is so much out there that I should be photographing, but this is my local show, sponsored by the Monadnock Area Artists Association. I get to display my work to friends and other local folks who may share my interest in the Monadnock Region, and besides, I have this Damn Tent and I have to air in out once a year. 

I can't claim to be an expert on the summer art show scene, but over the years I have arrived at a few observations that my be of interest, at least to the casual displayer like myself.


Displaying the Work
Kinetic Art: 2010
For year's I hung my pictures from long wires slung over the
accordion-like supports of the tent. Setup was a long and precarious process as I balanced on a ladder supporting my precious art work in one hand while struggling to get the wire around the supports and adjusted to the proper length. Each setup was a new
adventure. The results were
Mary Iselin's Plush Panels
pictures dangling from the tent walls, and bouncing about in even a light breeze. The whole presentation had been crude and amateurish and it was amazing that people ever ventured into my frightening world of gyrating kinetic art. I've always envied those with fancy professional display systems, but I couldn't justify the great expense for my one show per year. I needed a cheaper but functional alternative and last year, I finally decided to try something new.

A great thing about these art shows is that a quick tour will yield an endless variety of solutions to the display problem. I ended up
New Hanging System
using metal shelving, joined together with plastic ties, turned on end, and hung on a board attached to the tent supports. I stabilized the grills by attaching them to heavy 4x4s on the ground. With a little trial and error I learned how to firmly secure the panels. Nothing fancy, but now I can hang more work, and easily adjust the display. This is about as fancy as I am ever likely to get.


Finding Something to do.

As good as it Will Get
Once Setup the next question is, "what to do". It is pleasant to talk to passers-by, especially when they are admiring the work, but you have to avoid being too obtrusive. Painters can set up an easel and create, but it would be a challenge to do much Photoshoping in the bright sunlight. So, I sit in my chair and work on my blog, while trying not to look too disinterested.


People Watching
When all else fails, I can always study the people. My greatest

Flickr Friend & Great Photographer Sue O'Connoer
with son Michael
enjoyment comes from chatting my friends. who drop by.  Fun, but, not awfully lucrative since most of them already have too much of my work. Among the strangers there are a few distinct types. The best are those who take time to really look at the work and ask
Party!, Keene Photography Club
good questions. As they leave, most people say something like "beautiful work", but I value the praise most when it comes from the serious lookers. There are also the nervous deer, who browse intently, but if you make eye contact they scurry away. For them "beautiful Work" is plainly an escape line. Photographers come by and are often interested in
Couple Dynamics, "How much is this going to cost?"
technique which can lead to fascinating discussions, but if they are new to the art, they often only ask, "What camera do you use", as if all that is necessary is to be holding the right camera. There is frequently a special
dynamic among couples. I apologize for the blatant profiling but typically the wife is
Sophie's Hat,  A hot day
is interested in browsing while the husband circles outside with an expression that screams," when can we leave?" and "how much is this going to cost me". Children are almost always wonderful. They typically approach with wide eyed wonder. They often want everything they see, which is fun for me and a trial for their parents. The only challenge is to keep them from walking away with all of my business cards. Finally there are dogs. The River Park is a popular dog walk and it is awash in interesting things to sniff. I love visiting with the animals, but I must watch them closely to defend against their desire to mark my tent with their own sign of approval.


Measures of Success
Measured by my usual criteria this Art in the Park was a success. I sold just enough work to make it worthwhile, but, more importantly, I once again got my pictures out to be seen by lots of folks, some of whom may someday think of me when they need a local picture for a gift or empty corner of a wall. Although thunderheads were building on Sunday afternoon around closing time we managed to avoid any significant rain. It was amazing how quickly people managed to pack up with the sky darkening and thunder growling in distance. My new hanging system helped me take down quickly and, most importantly, without destroying any pictures. 

Finally, an event like this gives me feedback about my work that I miss when my pictures are hanging in a restaurant or bank lobby. At Art in the Park the people come to see the work, not to have dinner or cash a check and I learn a lot by lurking on the sidelines watching the reactions to individual pieces. For one thing, I learned that people seem to love pink noses. 

Jeffrey Newcomer

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