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“Spiraling Water” by Georgie Friedman

“Big Water” Avy Claire

The refurbished Newport Mill. photo: Charles Ruger

“Now Showing | H2O Film on Water,” by Maura Egan, The Moment Travel Blog: Art, New York Times, August 7, 2009

Perhaps taking a page from of the Mass MOCA playbook, William B. Ruger recently renovated an enormous old mill he owns in southern New Hampshire into an exhibition-friendly space. Ruger, who retired a few years ago as chairman of the firearms company his father founded, recognized that after decades of renting the building out to light manufacturing, the industry was drying up. This weekend, the refurbished Newport Mill will host its inaugural art exhibition, “H2O Film on Water,” which features works — videos, paintings, photographs and site installations — on the theme of the water, from the effects brought on by global changes to the access to safe water in developing countries.

Cynthia Reeves, the director of the
Great Rivers Art Institute in Bellows Falls, Vt. (she also owns the Cynthia Reeves gallery in Manhattan), curated works by artists like Doug and Mike Starn, Daniel Wheeler and Anne Lindberg, while Denise Markonish (a former Mass MOCA curator) selected the finalists for a juried video competition. The work spreads out to three other nearby venues: the Great River Arts Institute, the Brattleboro Museum in Vermont and the Spheris Gallery in Hanover, N.H., through Nov. 7. And if you tire of all the highfalutin art, book an appointment to see Mr. Ruger’s formidable car collection, which includes various Rolls-Royces, a Duesenberg and two 1920s firetrucks.

“Spiraling Water” by Georgie Friedman,%20nh&st=cse




Published: July 30, 2009

A renovated mill in Newport, N.H. — a tiny town (population 6,200) along the banks of the Sugar River in the southwestern part of the state — is not a place where you would necessarily expect to see cutting-edge art. But from next Friday through Nov. 7, it will be the site of “H2O Film on Water,” a show of videos, paintings, photographs and site-based installations by about 100 artists.

Through the eyes of some well-known figures like Doug Starn and his twin, Mike, and Shuli Sade, as well as emerging artists like Amy Globus, Ethan Murrow and Anne Lindberg, the exhibition will explore water and the effects of changes in the global climate.

Organized by Cynthia Reeves, owner of the Cynthia-Reeves gallery in Manhattan and creative director of the Great River Arts Institute, a nonprofit arts center in Bellows Falls, Vt., the show will spill over to other spaces along the Connecticut River (whose tributaries include the Sugar River): Great River Arts; the Brattleboro Museum in Vermont; and Spheris Gallery in Hanover, N.H.

“I wanted to draw attention to the Connecticut River,” Ms. Reeves said, “to draw people up the valley.”

The area includes 18,000 square feet in the Newport Mill, a 1906 turreted red-brick building that will be making its debut as an exhibition space.

In 1980 when its owner, William B. Ruger Jr., bought the mill, he rented it to very different businesses. Over the years a light bulb maker set up an operation there; so did a shoe manufacturer and a warehouse distributor. But two years ago when Mr. Ruger saw such industries on the decline, he renovated the building in hopes of giving it a new life.

“I would love it to be a permanent art space with galleries, art storage, exhibitions,” Mr. Ruger, who retired in 2006 as chairman of the firearms company his father founded, said in a telephone interview. “Sure it’s out of the way, but it would be breaking new ground.”

Destination: Newport Mill

An exhibit in water

Contemporary art explores our relationship with H2O

By DANIEL BARRICK, Monitor staff

August 10, 2009

... Entering the mill gallery, you're greeted by the projected image of an icy ocean, rippling and curling in a series of slow waves. The sound of other videos echoes through the hall. Arranging the mill floor to accommodate all of the works was one of the toughest tasks in pulling the show together, Reeves said.

"This space is a huge challenge," Reeves said. "It's like putting on a museum show." ...

From left: Derek Porter, Azariah Aker and Anne Lindberg go over some final details of Anne Lindberg’s thread piece for the “H2O: Film on Water” exhibit in the gallery of the Newport Mill on Friday. The exhibit’s opening was Saturday, and it runs through Nov. 7.

‘H20’ probes water’s beauty, turbulence



...The element in all its forms — complicated, destructive and beautiful — provides a unifying element for “H2O: Film on Water,” an exhibition hosted by four galleries across the New Hampshire-Vermont area. The Newport Mill in Newport Mill, N.H. serves as the flagship gallery for the exhibition....

H2O Film on Water review

by Gayle Hedrington

September 7, 2009

"H2O Film On Water" at Newport Mills is a must see. As you enter the large exhibit room, the sound of water surrounds your soul, and infiltrates your ears bringing instant tranquility. The special lighting on the various exhibits creates a dramatic atmosphere....


Shimmering downriver

Exhibition’s four venues celebrate sight, sound of water

By Cate McQuaid, Globe Correspondent  |  September 11, 2009

NEWPORT, N.H. - Outside an old brick woolen mill here, a dam in the Sugar River pools the water and releases it in a crashing waterfall. Inside, reflections glint on the walls, and the sounds of water rushing and burbling fill the vast third floor, part of “H2O Film on Water,’’ a themed art exhibition now up at four venues along Connecticut River Valley waterways.

“It’s a yellow brick road of contemporary art,’’ declares creative director and art maven Cynthia Reeves, founder of the educational nonprofit Great River Arts in Bellows Falls, Vt., and owner of Spheris Gallery in Hanover, N.H., two of the project’s other venues. The fourth is the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center in Brattleboro. “We’ll lead people up the river,’’ Reeves says.

“H2O Film on Water’’ features a juried show of 40 water-related videos and a curated exhibition of work by 26 artists, ranging from young emerging artists to such big names as Mike and Doug Starn and rising star Cui Fei. A portion of the proceeds raised by the project will be donated to Water for People, a nonprofit that works to create sustainable drinking water resources in developing countries.

The exhibition was put together on a shoestring: “Virtually all the artists did

For “GULP (Generative Urban Landscape Project),’’ Daniel Wheeler shot photographs underwater in pools. (Daniel Wheeler)

everything at their own cost,’’ Reeves says, standing beside a spiraling fabric installation by Georgie Friedman in the Newport Mill space. The juried videos run on televisions donated by a hotelier friend who was switching to plasma screens. And the Newport Mill space is rent-free.

It’s quite a spectacular venue. At a generous 18,000 square feet, the mill’s third floor houses most of the artworks in “H2O: Film on Water.’’ At the time last year when Reeves proposed the art project to the building’s owner, William Ruger, the mill had been losing industrial tenants and was in need of an overhaul. Ruger has owned the mill since 1980, leasing it to businesses that made combat boots, miniature light bulbs, and more.

Reeves, who also owns Cynthia-Reeves, a New York gallery, found Ruger through mutual connections and was curious about his space. Ruger was no stranger to art; he has a collection of 19th- and early-20th-century American art.

“She came over a year and a half ago,’’ Ruger says in a phone conversation from a vacation in Maine. “She said, ‘We could open in 2009.’ . . . It seemed like the dim and distant future.’’

Reeves nearly swooned when she saw it that first time. Oh my God, this is fantastic. Oh my God, this is so huge. What will we do with the space? she remembers thinking.

Although the tough economy has seen many empty commercial spaces open to artists just to fill up square feet, Ruger says he had planned a renovation anyway, and Reeves’s project locked in the timetable. “I’d made the decision to change the nature of the tenants before the economic conditions set in,’’ he says.

The two signed a lease and a memorandum of understanding, and each went to work: Ruger on his renovations and Reeves on organizing the show.


At Newport Mill, Newport, N.H.; Spheris Gallery,

Hanover, N.H.; Brattleboro Museum & Art Center,

Brattleboro; and

Great River Arts, Bellows Falls, Vt.,

through Nov. 7


“The artwork started arriving, and the elevator had just been finished,’’ Ruger reports.

The result is dramatic. The lights are dimmed, but brighten around certain works of art. The industrial feel of the space remains, with its brick walls and exposed pipes, but the wood floor gleams, and the 32 vast windows have been covered with black fabric to make it easier to see the videos. Daniel Wheeler’s brilliant, shimmering color photographs, “GULP (Generative Urban Landscape Project),’’ shot underwater in pools, hang suspended from the ceiling down the center aisle, leading the eye to the one uncovered window in sight, and a view of the Sugar River dam and waterfall.

Curated works in the Newport Mill include the chilling video projection “Seas,’’ by Jenn Moller, of a nearly frozen Cape Cod Bay throwing slushy waves ashore, and Amy Globus’s freakily beautiful video “Electric Sheep,’’ in which two octopi squeeze their way through narrow tubes between two larger plexiglass aquariums.

In addition to videos, there are two-dimensional works such as Stephen DiRado’s funny, fraught, black-and-white photo series “JUMP,’’ featuring swimmers taking the plunge off the American Legion Memorial Bridge on Martha’s Vineyard, and installations such as June Ahrens’s “In Depth,’’ in which a rotating light over a floor covered in mirror shards casts a spectacle of reflections on the wall. The monitors showing the juried videos line two long walls.

Reeves is thrilled with the result, and she has another show in mind to propose to Ruger. “For anyone to say, ‘Here’s the key to this building, have at it,’ it’s incredible,’’ Reeves says.

Ruger, never a fan of contemporary art, says he’s pleased. “I think it worked perfectly,’’ he says. “I’m delightfully surprised to find myself interested in something I wouldn’t think I’d be interested in.’’

And the mill’s future? “Who knows, maybe even people who visit as a result of the art show might be interested, maybe this will be some help in marketing [the space]’’ Ruger says. “It would be delightful if it turned out to be a building for the arts, if it could be made financially feasible.’’ 


The Power of Water

Evocative Works Grace the Old Mill in Newport

ART NOTES | By Alex Hanson

Published: SEPTEMBER 10, 2009

I did not have high hopes for “H2O: Film on Water,” a massive show coordinated by Great River Arts Institute, a Bellows Falls-based nonprofit art center. The premise of the show -- dozens of artists reflecting on the human relationship with water -- sounded so baggy that it could mean almost anything.

Further, most of the work is on video, a medium that holds us captive in a way painting, photography and the other motionless visual arts do not. I trekked to Newport, the primary site for the sprawling show, expecting not water, but water torture.

I could not have been more mistaken. The individual works in the show are inventive, sharply focused, evocative of the power water holds and, most important, graceful. And the venue -- 18,000 square feet on one floor of the restored Newport Mill, next to the Sugar River -- is an extraordinary place to view art. The result is a blockbuster show of contemporary art.

The exhibition serves as a reminder of how water constantly laps at us. The

Another view of Friedman’s Spirailing Water

Irish artist Claire Langan built several rooms in a studio in France and flooded them. Her video, The Flooded Rooms, calls to mind the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when homes in New Orleans sat full of water. The shadowed ripples of the water are grainy, making it hard to tell just by watching how the video was made. This is both a strength and a weakness: Whether the technique is suggestive or merely vague will depend on the viewer.

Many works in the show

call to mind the great

narratives, real and fictional, in which water plays a role.


Like The Flooded Rooms, other works in “H2O: Film on Water,” call to mind some of the great narratives, real and fictional, in which water plays a role. The Biblical flood, global warming, the drowning of Ophelia in Hamlet -- or any other drowning, for that matter, from Virginia Woolf's very real one, to Quentin Compson's in The Sound and the Fury, to Theodore Gericault’s painting Le adeau de la Meduse, even John Cheever’s classic story The Swimmer.

It's Stephen DiRado's series of photographs, Jump, that made me think of Cheever. I'll admit to a soft spot for DiRado's work; he’s from Worcester, Mass., the city of my birth, and he documents the sort of ordinary people I grew up with. Jump consists of photographs DiRado made of people taking the plunge into the icy Atlantic off the American Legion Memorial Bridge on Martha's Vineyard. DiRado’s subjects are at leisure, but they wear stern expressions, as if the dive off the bridge was their commute to work.

As much as video is the exhibition's dominant medium, not all of the curated works make use of it. Anne Lindberg's Vapor is a column of thread suspended from the ceiling and terminating a couple of feet from the floor. The thread, in blues and greens and purples, swayed gently in the air from the open door, giving it the gaseous quality of the title.

Georgie Friedman's Spiraling Water is a video projection, but it relies on a curl of fabric for its structure. The projection of a glacial waterfall whirls perpetually around the fabric. A viewer can walk into the curl, but I wouldn't recommend it. Standing inside the spiral made me a bit nauseated. From the outside, Spiraling Water is a force, tightly wound, that represents the constant motion of water.

Other videos are beguiling out of measure with the slightness of their conception. Sonia Thomsen's Burning Water explores how the camera sees the surface of a body of water. The moving camera records both the dark surface and the smoky reflection of clouds and trees it contains.

For Electric Sheep, Amy Globus painted the inside of her apartment black, installed tanks and tubes between the tanks, then spent a month filming an octopus moving back and forth, in and between the tanks. Electric Sheep is a reference to Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, Philip K. Dick's dystopic 1968 novel. Globus drew inspiration from the sets for Blade Runner, the 1982 Ridley Scott film based on Dick's book. The octopus is even more otherworldly than Scott’s film. Globus shows it to us in parts, illuminated and floating through the dark.

I could go on, and I didn't even see the entire show. I didn't leave myself enough time to watch all 40 of the juried videos on display. The handful I saw were entertaining and diverse.


The Newport Mill is only one venue for “H2O: Film on Water” -- there is work on display at Spheris Gallery in Hanover, at the Brattleboro Museum and at Great River Arts in Bellows Falls. The Newport Mill houses the bulk of the work, and the setting alone is worth the trip to Newport. William Ruger, who is renovating the mill and graciously made it available to Great River Arts Institute, might want to consider turning part of the building over to art for the long term. The mill is open Thursdays through Sundays, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. The whole show is on view through Nov. 7. Call (603) 640-6155.


Georgie Friedman’s Spiraling Water stands among the other works at the Newport Mill.                                               Images courtesy of the Great River Arts institute

From the water problem to water as metaphor. Our story begins in a former woolen mill on the banks of the Sugar River in Newport, NH. To get there, I drove past The Dollar Store and strip malls, the spray-painted signs advertising cord wood and coal, and onto South Main Street, where space for rent signs fade in store front windows.

Newport is one of the American towns where Sturm, Ruger and Co. has been manufacturing guns since 1949. Firearms magnate William Ruger, Jr., meticulously restored the old mill to house his extensive collection of antique cars. Bill Ruger then turned over an entire floor - 20,000 square feet – of the mill bulding to H20: Film on Water. It’s a collection of films, video, photographs and contemporary installations linked to the Connecticut River waterways.

The Newport Mill is the main exhibition space. I visited the grand brick building on a sparkling fall afternoon. The windows were blackened. Muffled sounds of buoy bells, sparse lighting, and the movement of projected films created a sense of dark immersion.

Cynthia Reeves runs the contemporary art gallery Cynthia Reeves in New York City, and Spheris Gallery in Hanover. A decade ago, she started Great River Arts based in Bellows Falls, Vt. To mark its ten-year anniversary, Cynthia opened up a juried competition centered on water. Her team pared more than 200 submissions down to 75 works of video, photography and site-specific works to create H20: Film on Water.

There’s a great variety of work. One film evokes Hurricane Katrina, another, the effect of oil on water. Some are direct, others more subtle. On Saturday, the top three juried H20: Film on Water videos will be awarded at the mill in Newport. The exhibition, and Saturday’s awards event are free and open to the public.


By Virginia Prescott for New Hampshire Public Radio

Tuesday, October 13, 2009.        


H2O: Film on Water

October 19, 2009

On October 17 three of us from Orion traveled to Newport, New Hampshire, to visit an extraordinary art exhibition, “H2O: Film on Water.” The show includes videos, paintings, photographs, and other installations – all focused on the theme of water—by over 60 artists.

Standing in the massive (18,000 square foot) space – part of the recently renovated Newport Mill – the viewer is surrounded and lifted by the light, movement, and sound emanating from dozens of pieces of art. The integration of the mill’s architecture and the art associated with the exhibition is beautiful, powerful, and timely.

The show was organized by Cynthia Reeves, a long-time friend of Orion who has connected the magazine’s staff with a number of visual artists whose work has subsequently appeared in Orion. Cynthia is the creative director of the Great River Arts Institute, and the owner of the Cynthia-Reeves Gallery in Manhattan.

Pieces of the show are also on display at other locations along the Connecticut River, including the Brattleboro (Vermont) Museum, Great River Arts in Bellows Falls, VT, and the Spheris Gallery in Hanover, NH.

The exhibition will remain installed until November 7. We highly recommend that anyone in driving distance go and experience it for themselves.

Photos by Jamie Goldenberg and Chip Blake
filed under:
Noteworthy Projects We've Heard About, Orion artists & writers