Downtown gallery a step closer to reality

NASHUA – The long road to realizing their dream of a vibrant, successful arts enclave in the downtown area reaches another milestone this week for those connected with the Nashua Area Artists Association and the local contractor who’s strongly backing the project.

Association leaders and members are hosting a gala holiday open house, featuring an exhibit called “Journey Into Art,” Wednesday night in the building that, when finished, will give them some 4,500 square feet of gallery, classroom, and multi-unit, individual studio rental space.

The open house will be held on the first floor of their future home at 5 Pine St. Ext., where contracting company P.M. MacKay and Sons, the property owner, has its Mill House Design Center showroom. Tours will be given of the new space upstairs.

Called Gallery One at the Mill House, the association’s new headquarters has leaned heavily on financial as well as in-kind assistance such as volunteer labor and the donation of building materials and fixtures.

The open house, which will feature entertainment by musician George Parker and catering by Celebrations, will give association members and invited guests a chance to meet the 20 exhibiting artists and many other fellow artisans, said Gallery One committee chairperson Adelle Leiblein.

“This event is to let people know about Gallery One . . . to thank all the donors who have already been so generous to us and show everyone the progress we’ve made,” she said. “Some members have never seen the space.”

Incoming association president Sarah Roche was quick to acknowledge the ongoing assistance of P.M. MacKay President Peter Bonnette, who signed on to the project from the start.

Bonnette’s firm acquired the building, also known as No. 6 Mill Annex, in 1997 for its headquarters and showroom. His support, as well as that from the association’s business benefactor, Ocean National Bank, has made a huge difference in making the artists’ vision come true, she added.

The NAAA is looking to line up artists and fine crafts people of varied backgrounds, including sculptors, painters, photographers, potters, and those who work with jewelry, wood, glass and fiber, to commit to an exhibit or to schedule classes or demonstrations.

Roche said the goal is for a February or early March gallery opening, depending upon how future donations go.

“We’re looking at a big fund-raiser, too, around that time,” she added.

Those interested in assisting with work on Gallery One should contact the association at 883-0603 or the Greater Nashua Chamber of Commerce at 881-8333, or go to