‘I didn’t realize there were so many artists in my area’: Holiday art exhibition features Dartmouth artists and sculptors

Dec 22, 2023

During the third weekends of July and August, South Coast Artists invites the public to a self-guided tour of up to 75 local art studios, where people can see the artists as they paint, sculpt and draw new works of art. New SCA president Stephen Remick said he didn’t realize how many of his neighbors were artists until he joined SCA, and went to these tours. 

“It blew my mind,” he said. “I didn’t realize there were so many artists in my area.” 

Those same local artists are now on display at the Dartmouth Cultural Center, as part of its 6th annual Holiday Exhibition, which will be hosted through Jan. 6, 2024. The exhibition showcases the paintings, sculptures and photography of 56 artists. People can view the exhibits Thursdays and Fridays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and weekends from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Children’s book illustrator Carol Way Wood is among the artists to display their creations in the holiday exhibit. This year, Way Wood is displaying some art from her 2024 calendar Native Moons filled with paintings of woodland creatures set in moonlit forests and meadows. 

Inspired by her love and respect for nature, Way Wood’s paintings are often of small forest animals from racoons to rabbits, some of them wearing fashionable jackets, hats and sweaters. 

“I love drawing animals and giving them personality,” said Way Wood, who hopes her artwork will encourage people to be more environmentally conscious. “I love the natural world.”

Way Wood first got involved with South Coast Artists in the early 2000s. Today, she serves on the board where she helps with fundraising. Over the years, she said SCA has been a boost to her art career.

“It’s definitely helped me raise awareness of my brand and develop loyal patrons,” she said.

As a member of SCA since 2014, Remick said the organization allows him to promote his work on a level that he could never do on his own. 

“The pull on me was that they were wonderful at spreading the word,” he said of his decision to join SCA, admitting that his marketing skills aren’t so hot. “I didn’t want to market my work, I just wanted to work.”

Comprising 200 members, SCA offers artists camaraderie and the chance to learn from one another. To see another artist painting something a little better than you can be just the inspiration someone needs to improve their craft, Remick said. 

“I’m a bit ‘friendly competitive’ without knowing it,” he said. “I’ll get pissed off at them in a good way.”

Born and raised in Vermont, Remick’s love for the mountains and outdoors has inspired many of his landscape paintings. But during the pandemic, as he sat alone in his art studio while Covid transformed the world, he turned his focus to the healthcare workers risking their lives to save ours. 

The result was “Reckoning,” a 2021 exhibit that featured Remick’s paintings that he made from the selfies that nurses and doctors posted on Facebook. 

“All these healthcare workers were doing these really intense selfies of themselves,” he said. 

Whenever he paints a portrait from a photograph, Remick’s goal is never to replicate the photo perfectly, but to accentuate the most important elements of the photos. It’s about “whittling away to the essence of it,” Remick said, speaking of the exhaustion and horror that many healthcare workers endured during the Covid pandemic.

Looking at artwork has everything to do with how it makes you feel, said Jill Law, an artist and founding member of the Dartmouth Cultural Center. Speaking of her own work, Law said she wants people to connect with her work on a personal level. 

“I think that’s terrible to tell me my work is adorable, sweet and pretty,” she said. “It’s an emotional response that I would want to see from the buyer.”

Law said she hopes that people who come to the exhibit will find pieces that resonate with them emotionally, whether that makes them feel angry or excited or intrigued. Exhibits expose people to all kinds of different art forms and styles, she said, each with their own interpretation of the world. 

“When they come to a show like this, it gives them an option to formulate what they like and what they don’t like,” Law said.

Everybody interprets artwork in their own way. What may be just a painting of a woman in a boat to one person, may be profound and captivating to someone else. When looking at art, it’s all about asking the big questions. 

“What do you want it to be?” Law said. “What does it say to you?”