Business Quarterly: Peterborough Town Library gives emerging artists a spotlight

  • R. Scott Hyde gives a talk at Peterborough Town Library. COURTESY PHOTO

For the Ledger-Transcript
Published: 7/25/2023 10:21:53 AM

The Monadnock region is fortunate to attract and retain a rich network of talented artists.

When the Peterborough Town Library opened the new PTL Community Art Gallery, the library staff thought about upcoming artists who may not have the experience and opportunities of the more-established artists in the region. These emerging artists often need mentoring on how to present, frame and hang their work for a featured show. Sometimes they may not have enough work to fill the gallery, or their work is in a medium not often selected for local galleries and stores.

Hearing these concerns, we decided to dedicate the library gallery to emerging artists, with a mission to create positive experiences that promote learning and growth for artists and develop meaningful connections between the artist and the community. A group of volunteers serves on the PTL art committee and provides feedback and assistance throughout the submission process.

Since its opening in 2021, the gallery has featured several artists debuting their work for the first time in a solo exhibition, including Peterborough artist Mia Stendahl, who creates bold and colorful portraits. There have been two “In Conversation” exhibits where two artists are paired, such as the work of Cheryl Frez Bencivenga and Lornie Rawls, who both began painting in their 60s. ConVal High students have shown their work in two group exhibitions.

In addition to opening receptions, the artists are also invited to host workshops to either provide hands-on learning or in-depth discussion about their process. It’s a dynamic experience with the artist and the community. We have visitors from all over the region who come to see our exhibits and meet the artists. Openings are typically held on Peterborough’s First Fridays, providing one more stop to a fun evening out in Peterborough.

The library had over 53,000 visits in 2022, and the gallery is strategically placed to welcome folks entering the building. “Where a Trail Leads: New Paintings by R. Scott Hyde” is currently on view through the end of July. Hyde has been working as an artist, educator and builder for decades but has not shown his work in over 30 years. His large-scale bold abstract landscapes have created a gorgeous exhibit enjoyed by the community all summer long.

Beginning in August, the gallery will feature another first-time solo exhibition. The work of Peggy Van Valkenburgh, who works in pastels, will be on view through September. Van Valkenburgh began working in pastels in 2015. A member of the Pastel Society of NH, she promotes the beauty of the medium.

The PTL Community Art Gallery accepts rolling submissions. Artists new to the region, groups and folks working in all mediums are encouraged to apply. Apply online or call the library for assistance. The gallery is open during regular library hours. Visit the library website at for information.

Corinne Chronopoulos is director of Peterborough Town Library.

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