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July 23, 2010

Art Grows Here

Hamilton, Wenham artists make a big statement with outdoor tour

A thick, twisting bundle of woody vines crawls across Sue Kassirer's garage, climbs onto her house, and reaches into the windows and toward the chimney.

Kassirer's fantastical creation, titled "Eminent Domain," is one of the artworks that comprise Art Grows Here, a self-guided tour of outdoor art installations created by artists in Hamilton and Wenham that opens today.

"The business of maintaining a suburban home is that the resale value is always on your mind," Kassirer, a Hamilton resident, said of her work. "I've often thought how easy it would be for Mother Nature to take over, and I'm allowing that to be imagined."

Kassirer is among a group of Hamilton and Wenham artists who began gathering at each other's homes in early 2009 to share ideas and critique each other's work.

"I said, 'I need to get together and do more with artists,'" Kassirer recalled. "I feel like I'm on an island."

Over the course of their meetings, the artists shared a dream of seeing more art in their small, neighboring towns and hatched the idea for Art Grows Here.

"We were really looking for a place to show our art and do something different in Hamilton-Wenham," said Jill Herrick-Lee, one of the artists in the group. "The surrounding communities have a lot of art events happening, so instead of complaining, we said, 'Let's try to do something about it.'"

Eleven artists will participate in the inaugural Art Grows Here, with outdoor exhibits ranging from Allan Brockenbrough's larger-than-life "Stick Ball" to Diane Carnevale's enormous fuchsia flower painted from an ant's perspective.

"I stitched two painter's dropcloths together to use as my canvas," said Carnevale, of Hamilton. "I bought a gallon of pink paint plus a cast of supporting colors, and let the alchemy happen."

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