Good News from A Great City Haverhill, MA
It was a study in contrasts for The Heartbeat of Haverhill. In one blustery winter day we engaged in a 2-hour guided hike through some of the 12 miles of trails in Mass Audubon’s Ipswich River Wildlife Sanctuary where traversing open marshes resulted in frosty noses and chilly toeses, and diminishing camera battery life.
From there, in search of a hot cup of coffee we passed the primary colored fluttering banners of the Greater Haverhill Arts Association at Nunan’s Florist and Greenhouses in Georgetown. THOH stopped in for a colorful respite from the most monochromatic time of year for gardeners and was immediately reminded of both the warm days ahead and our last tropical vacation. Within a few minutes our desire for a hot beverage was replaced with the urgent sense that our water bottles should be filled with Pina Coladas. The warm moist air soothed our wind chapped cheeks.
For the second year, Nunan’s is hosting the Greater Haverhill Arts Association’s annual Paint-In where Sundays in January mean painting in the greenhouse from 10:00am until 2:00pm on four Sundays: January 8, 15, and 22 with an exhibition (with most artists choosing to continue to paint) on January 29, 12:00 – 3:00pm. It was a vacation for us, while the artists on hand were hard at work capturing the colors, light and shadow and the lush feeling of abundant plant and flower life in this little slice of paradise. There was even a tropical bird named Jacob who shared the vibrant colors of his surroundings and squawked a greeting to his many admirers.
The Greater Haverhill Arts Association was founded in Haverhill in 1971 by Robert Gablosky, a former journalist with the Haverhill Gazette. Its “mission is to promote art and artists and to keep art integral to our lives and accessible and affordable for all.” THOH arrived at the end of the Paint-In session so some artists had already left, but of the dozen or so who were still on site there were clay artists, silk painters, people who worked in acrylics, pastels, pencils, watercolors, and oils. There were artists from Haverhill including Debbie Shirley (acrylics), Sandra Golbert (painted silk), and Denise Delongis (clay). There were people of varying skill levels, some trying out new media, others developing new styles. But the fact that artists who arrived from as far away as Gloucester and Salem, MA are active members of the Greater ‘Haverhill’ Arts Association is a testament to the strong sense of community and support and value Mr. Gablowski worked to create in this very vital group.
With trusty camera in hand, The Heartbeat of Haverhill found colorful inspiration everywhere. From the amazing fact that most artists wore clothing in the exact shade that was dominant in their art, to the flowers, palettes, people, paint brushes, all the gorgeous greenery, and that Macaw with its coat of many colors. It was not lost on THOH that our medium of choice (digital photography) allowed us to create dozens of images in the half hour we spent in the greenhouse, where the real artists were working on one maybe two pieces at most for the 4 hour stint.
A read through the GHAA member directory shows that there are many men in the group though they were not available during my visit. Not sure, but wonder if that football thing that happens on Sundays in January limited the number of men who opted to attend. In any event, the women artists we met could have been very intimidating by their talents alone, but through their openness, support, and kindness, we found that they actually made us want to pick up a paintbrush and give it a try! THOH strongly advises our readers to visit the GHAA Paint In at Nunans, for your own tropical getaway, to watch artists at work, to find a beautiful piece of artwork for your home or a gift, or to reintroduce yourself to the artistic passion that you’ve been neglecting for far too long. To help you along the way to your artistic self – you can register to create at the GHAA website. Thanks in large part to Mr. Gablosky, the artist community in Haverhill and beyond is blossoming.