Acclaimed local artist Vivian Beer brings artistic flair to Sept. 8 community open house

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Vivian Beer low rider chair
Artist Vivian Beer in her low-rider chair. Courtesy photo

MANCHESTER, NH – Vivian Beer doesn’t just see beauty in the ordinary and elegance in the utilitarian. She rolls up her sleeves, puts on her welding mask, and makes them into something no one else would have imagined: A bronze bench inspired by two months of living in the desert, an inflated metal lamp designed to fit the average person’s budget, a steel table gorgeous enough to win the grand prize on Ellen’s Design Challenge on HGTV.

It’s only a little surprising, then, that the acclaimed artist, sculptor and designer, whose work has been featured in some of the country’s most prestigious museums, has agreed to make an appearance at an ordinary community event: a 25th anniversary open house at Purely Wood Furniture. And it’s not at all surprising that the event, scheduled for September 8 at the 293 Elm Street store, is turning into something much bigger and bolder than at first envisioned.

Vivian Beer functional furniture 1
Vivian Beer has made a name for herself with furniture that is all form and function. Courtesy photo

“I feel there’s an important need to act and get involved, which is the beginning of working together as a community, hand in hand, to create a culture of collaboration, community pride and artistic growth,” said Beer, who lives in Pembroke and has long been involved in the Manchester community.

Beer has always looked for connections between her surroundings and her work, between her life and her art, between different materials and techniques. Over the summer, for example, she held a series of workshops at her home studio as a way of introducing more local people to her work and inviting them to be inspired by the natural beauty of the woods and river outside her door. She hopes that, along with fostering community, the Purely Wood open house will be another chance to build creative synergy.

Jon Brooks art CitronAnaltar
A table by Jon Brooks.

“As a member of the New Hampshire Arts Council, I believe there’s a need to build stronger connections between the local art community and the creative technology industries like you have right here in Manchester,” said Beer, whose imaginative sculptures and designs have been featured in prestigious museums such as the Smithsonian American Art Museum, the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, the Brooklyn Museum of Art and the Currier Museum of Art, which is located in Manchester.

Joining Beer at the event will be internationally renowned artist, sculptor and furniture maker Jon Brooks, who will be exhibiting a piece of his work with the public. Several local businesses will be in attendance including Lisa Abel, a representative from the Currier Gallery of Art. Live music will be performed by Mezzo-Soprano Janice Edwards, local musicians Dan and Jeni Klardie, guitarist Carl Beverly and a special performance by singer/songwriter Susan Olson, a singer of Great North Woods band of Bangor, Maine.

Randy with 25th anniversary sign Aug 2018
Purely Wood Furniture co-owner Randy Belliveau, is ready to roll out the 25th anniversary sign. Courtesy Photo

For Purely Wood Furniture co-owners Mark Hughes and Randy Beliveau, the strong showing by the local arts community was unexpected. “We’re just an average, main street American small business and not a venue such as the Smithsonian or anything prestigious like that,” he said.

Nevertheless, Hughes and Beliveau share with Beer an appreciation for the Manchester community. They donate to local schools and charitable organizations, offers discounts to service members, and places a high value on building relationships with customers and fellow businesspeople.

They hope the open house will provide another way to give back to the community and foster relationships among people who live and work in Manchester. Co-hosted and organized by Your Personal PR, a local public relations and marketing firm, the free, family-centered event will include live musical performances, demonstrations, door prizes, refreshments, and an appearance by Manchester Mayor Joyce Craig. A donation drive is also under way for Families in Transition-New Horizons: Attendees are encouraged to bring a “high needs” item to donate. Space is limited. RSVP online at Purely Wood Furniture’s Facebook page.

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