Carlisle’s Gleason Library features range of local artists

By Nancy Shohet West
Globe Correspondent / November 3, 2011

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Visitors to the Gleason Public Library in Carlisle this fall may notice that the exhibition on display throughout the building is a little different from the usual “Art at the Gleason’’ offerings.

First of all, there’s the sheer number of artists and the range of media: rather than turning the walls or display cases over to one or two artists for several weeks at a time, as is typical, the library is featuring 72 artists providing works in drawing, metalsmithing, pottery, sculpture, photography, and collage. A reception for the artists and a special fund-raising raffle take place at 7 p.m. Saturday at the library, 22 Bedford Road, in the town center.

But perhaps more surprising to many viewers than the sheer quantity of work on exhibit is that so many of the names are familiar.

“Essence of Carlisle’’ is a show devoted to local artists, and when the curators put out the call for submissions, they were amazed at the results.

“People came out of the woodwork,’’ said Emily Stewart, who is one of four volunteer curators for the exhibition, and a professional artist herself. “This is a town of about 5,000 people, and it’s very surprising how many of them are artists.’’

Some of the exhibitors are full-time professional artists; others surprised their friends and neighbors by appearing in the show, such as Larry Bearfield, far better known as the proprietor of Ferns Country Store in Carlisle Center.

“Before my wife and I bought the store, I was the creative director at an ad agency for thirty years, and before that I went to art school,’’ Bearfield said.

But running the town’s only store is a time-consuming endeavor, so he doesn’t get much opportunity to work on his art these days, Bearfield said. Still, when a friend in New York City gave him a poignant souvenir several years ago, he knew he had to make something out of it.

“It was a piece from one of the planes that flew into the World Trade Center in 2001,’’ Bearfield said. “A New York City firefighter gave it to my friend, who then passed it on to me. It is a daunting and emotional thing to hold in your hands, and it took me quite a while to figure out how to create something around it that wasn’t going to be laced with only negative emotions.’’

Bearfield set the twisted metal on his drawing table for months and thought about what he was going to do with it. The result, a sculpture montage now on display on the library’s second floor, incorporates the plane fragment against a background painting of sky and clouds, a flag, and a plaster cast of Bearfield’s hands.

Other participants who consider art more of a passion than a profession include an architect, a newspaper photographer, and a radiologist. One artist in the show died just weeks before it opened; his family and the curators decided to keep his work as part of the display. About half of the art is for sale, and 15 pieces will be raffled off at the fund-raiser Saturday night.

Doug Hansel said he was happy to help out when the curators asked for a contribution to the exhibition. His pottery is usually shown in galleries in Cambridge and Natick, and he has little time to promote his work, since he combines the vocation with his job as a stay-at-home father to two young children. A porcelain bowl he made will be included in this weekend’s raffle.

“My feeling about art is that as more and more people have less contact with nature and with each other, it’s increasingly important to own handmade items that show a human touch,’’ Hansel said of his philosophy as a potter. “With so many items that are sold in malls and large stores being the same wherever you go, it’s really important to recognize the uniqueness and diversity of handmade art.’’

Unlike Hansel, who has been creating pottery for 14 years, Kirsten Ball discovered silversmithing only recently. An art school graduate, she focused professionally on gilding and historical restoration while living in her native England.

When she and her family relocated to Carlisle a few years ago, she didn’t have a green card allowing her to work in this country yet, and needed to find something to do in the meantime. She took a jewelry-making course at the DeCordova Museum in Lincoln and has been working in silver ever since. Her collection in the library exhibition includes pearl drop earrings and a sterling silver feather necklace.

“Essence of Carlisle,’’ on exhibit through Dec. 30, is part of the Art at the Gleason series sponsored by the Friends of the Gleason Public Library. For hours and more information, call 978-369-4898 or go to Raffle tickets can be purchased through Saturday at the library.

DISPLAYS OF TALENT: Meanwhile, there are a number of other venues featuring local artists this month.

■The Friends of the Marlborough Public Library presents its 40th annual Regional Juried Art Exhibition, from Monday through the following Sunday, in the Bigelow Auditorium gallery at the library, 35 West Main St.

A reception with the artists and an awards ceremony takes place Monday from 6 to 8 p.m., and will feature Keane Southard performing on the library’s Steinway piano. To reserve a space at the reception, call 508-485-4204. For more information on the exhibition, go to

■The Bedford Center for the Arts will host open studios and a holiday sale Saturday and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The event showcases more than a dozen local artists working in fields as diverse as digital printmaking, woodturning, kiln-fired glass, photography, ceramics, oil and pastel paintings, knitting, collage and mixed media, jewelry, writing, and paper arts.

For a map of the studio locations and more details, go to

■Works by the next generation will be on display at the Lexington Arts & Crafts Society’s 16th annual Regional High School Artists Show, which is continuing through Nov. 13.

The selected pieces include multimedia drawings, still-life studies, architectural designs, experimental sculptures, photography, painting, and ceramics.

The exhibition is open from noon to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Friday and Sunday, and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the society’s headquarters, 130 Waltham St. For more information, call 781-862-9696 or visit

“MOON’’ PARTY: The Angel Band hosts a release party and concert celebrating its newest CD, “Shoot the Moon,’’ on Saturday at 8 p.m. at Circle of Friends Coffeehouse, 262 Chestnut St. in Franklin.

Tickets are $20 and can be purchased at the door or at

STRINGS ATTACHED: The Boston Artists Ensemble presents a program of string sextets by Brahms and Schoenberg as well as a quintet by Bocchieri at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at Trinity Episcopal Church, 11 Homer St. in Newton Centre.

Tickets are $24, $20 for senior citizens and $12 for students, and can be purchased at the door.

SCHEDULING CHANGES: A talk by New Yorker fiction editor Deborah Treisman mentioned in last week’s Arts column as planned for last Thursday at Wellesley College was postponed until 6:30 p.m. Dec. 8.

Also, last weekend’s snowstorm prompted the Harvard Friends of the Arts troupe to reschedule its Old Time Radio Theatre production of “Frankenstein’’ for 7 p.m. Sunday at the Harvard Public Library, 4 Pond Road. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. for the free performance.

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