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.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Hanging Art, Showing Your Work at Its Best

First I get some shameless self-promotion.

 I am excited to have a solo exhibition of my New England photography at the Jaffrey Civic Center from July 11th through August 16th. The Center is one of my favorite places to show my work. The downstairs Auditorium Gallery is spacious, well lit, and has an excellent hanging system. Most importantly, the director, Dion Owens , is a delight to work with and has a tireless commitment to supporting the arts in our region. The only challenge of showing at the Civic Center is that the galleries are enormous. Exhibitions in Jaffery are easily the biggest that I have had the opportunity to stage. Thank goodness I framed 13 new pieces for the show, since I ended up hanging all 30 of the pictures that I jammed into my car. Jaffrey is a bit out of the way but the Center is one of the best places to enjoy art in the region and the getting there from Keene leads you down Route 124, which is my favorite scenic road around Mount Monadnock. Come by if you are in the area. The Civic Center is open Tuesdays 10 to 6, Wednesday through. Friday from 1 to 5 and Saturday from 10 to 2 . It is located on Route 124 just west of the town center and almost across the street from Sunflowers Restaurant, an excellent place for lunch or dinner. For more information and directions check out the Jaffrey Civic Center web site, you may even notice some of my pictures scattered through the pages.


 Hanging Art
Enough advertising!  As I Assembled the Jaffrey show, I realized that in my long stated effort to "show the work", I have displayed my photographs in nearly 50 solo shows and group exhibitions. Hanging a show requires considerable effort and care both to display the work to best advantage and to protect the pictures from damage. Over the years I have dropped, bumped and scraped pictures leading to broken glass and scratched frames as well as dislodging dust to float in the frame. Through painful experience I have developed a system to simplify the process and reduce the risk of damage to the work. This includes a simplified approach to packing and transporting the images as well as a tool box of resources that make the hanging easier and more precise.


Life-Time Supply of Corrugated
For years I have used the same plastic bins to transport and store my pictures. I struggled with various materials to protect the images as they bounced around in the bins, but I have finally settled on wrapping each frame in a sheet of corrugated cardboard. I bought a massive roll of the material and have cut sheets that completely unfold the work. There are many different materials to use to protect your work during transportation and storage, but I have found this approach to be simple, economical and effective. I use foam and bubble wrap to stabilize the load when the bins are not tightly filled. When fully loaded the bins can become quite heavy, but my newest container has rollers which makes transport much easier.

The Wrap

The Bins

How's It Hanging?
Over the years I have assembled a collection of tools that make the hanging process much simpler, but he greatest difficulty is that
Wire Hanging System
venues have a wide variety of hanging systems or, all too often, no system at all. I especially hate contributing to the carnage by pound nails into sadly scarred walls. The background looks terrible and the security of the work, suspended from the crumbling plaster, is often quite tenuous. Happily many of my host are learning that the investment in a hanging system is much less expensive than regular wall reconstruction (Are you listening Kristin's Bakery ?). The Jaffrey Civic Center has an excellent system of wire hangers suspended from a simple clean molding on the wall. This is my favorite approach and it is what I use in my own gallery at home. It allows infinite flexibility to adjust both position and height and the walls stay undamaged and clean.


My Hanging Toolbox
The contents of my hanging toolbox has expanded over the years as I have attempted to be prepared for all the possible challenges of different venues.  Given  all the possible scenarios, I recently had to get a bigger box.

What's in the Box
It will NEVER be this clean again
Let's start with the basics, a hammer, screw drivers, wire cutters, needle nose pliers, hanging wire, and various hooks. I have a collection of round and flat S hooks to attach to moldings or wires.  I know that, if I want to be invited back to a gallery, I have to take every precaution to leave the walls undamaged. I use a special hanging putty, called UHU Tac, to attach show lists and other information to the walls without stripping the paint upon removal.   This product attaches easily, is reusable, and is available at most framing stores. Similarly I use painter's tape to stabilize excess wires without causing damage (thanks to Dion for this tip).

Other key elements include a level and measuring implements. I have a tape measure to evenly position the pictures, but for final alignment and especially to adjust the height of the frames, I find it is easier to use a rigid yard stick.  A small foot stool occasionally comes in handy when hooks are especially high.  When I have the flexibility, " I like to arrange the pictures at average eye level and with their bases all at the same height. This is almost impossible to do when I must pound hangers into the walls and in those situations I will often purposefully stagger the picture at different heights. It looks better than having the pictures all slightly out of alignment.  Finally, before I level the pictures I do a detailed inspection and clean smudged glass with ammonia free glass cleaner on a lint free cloth.  I never spray the cleaner directly on the glass since it has a tendency to flow into the frame and contaminate the mat.


Show List

For a few early years, I attached separate labels to the wall next to each image, but this proved to be a hassle with labels falling off and stripping the paint or wall paper. Now I wait until the show is hung and then prepare a single, ordered list of the works to post with the exhibition. I identify the pictures with numbers placed on a lower corner with small white adhesive dots. In addition to the list of works, including titles, locations and prices, I add basic information about my interests and process. The list also provides me an easy way to keep track of the work in each show.


Once the show is hung, plumbed and labeled my last step is to photograph each wall as a further record of the exhibition. Finally, I grab a picture of the outside of the venue to use in my inevitable, self promoting Facebook and blog posts.

Sit Back and Enjoy the Show
I hope you get a chance to visit my show at the Jaffrey Civic Center.  Let me know what you think of the images. There are great places all around to "show the work", so get started on your own hanging tool box.  If you have already assembled your box, I would be interested to hear what you feel is the most essential part of your kit?  I still have a little room in my tool box.

Jeffrey Newcomer


  1. Very helpful information. Thanks for the post. I too have only recently started to have work hanging in several places and am always learning about the process. There aren't as many venues around me currently, but more are becoming available as time goes on.

  2. That was a very well-written and informative post. Thanks for sharing it. I'm one of the owners of Image City Photography Gallery in Rochester, New York. We've been in business for over 8 years and just mounted our 117th show today. I'm glad you found a hanging system you like and it works for you. We've experimented with several hanging systems and found flaws with all of them in the areas of stability and angle of view. We stick with the nail-in-the-wall system and patch our bright white walls with white spackling after each show with good results. Once a year or so we sand and paint the walls to bring them back to near-new condition. I'll bet the back side of our dry wall looks like someone blasted a shotgun at it after 117 shows with nails driven through them!

    Good luck.


    1. Looks like a great space. I spent 2 years in Rochester for training in the late '70s and was impressed with the cities commitment to the arts.

  3. Thank you, Jeff! I have two shows to hang in the next month or so, and this will come in very handy indeed.