Art Scene: From Street Art to Tibetan Contemporary Art, PortsMOFA puts Portsmouth on the Map

Since its opening two years ago, the Portsmouth Museum of Art has made its impact on the Seacoast’s art scene. With each show they gain momentum and carve out a unique niche here in Portsmouth, exhibiting 21st century emerging art from around the world. Cathy Sununu, Director of the Portsmouth Museum of Art, describes the mission of the museum saying, “We view ourselves as a portal for the Seacoast to connect with what is happening in the arts globally.”

The museum is unmistakably international; recent exhibit ‘Street AKA Museum’ displays artists from Germany, Greece, and Los Angeles. The street art show was originally in the works for Summer 2012 but was pushed forward to coincide with a larger and more retrospective show at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.

The eye-catching murals painted on Portsmouth city walls have not sat well with all residents; who demonstrated their distaste through a petition submitted to the City Council. Cathy responded to the negative feedback stating, “That conversation is what generates the thought process around the art, and in that respect this would be the most successful show in achieving our goal of education,” she continued, “While 40-something people signed a petition, a couple thousand have attended the exhibition and have absolutely loved it, and I expect there will be a couple thousand more who come in July and August.”

The Portsmouth Museum of Art goes beyond the reach of their exhibits to educate the local community, holding regular discussion groups and artist critiques at the museum. To broaden ‘Street AKA Museum’ the museum hosts a Blackbook Project every other Sunday. Blackbook sketching is a practice used by many street artists and the project gives Seacoast artists an introduction to this tool of the trade.

There is even more to look forward to with the upcoming Tibetan Contemporary Art show in the Fall. Director Sununu says, “The show creates opportunity not only to show a group of work by a group of artists that has not been seen too many places before, but also talk about a broader topic of global connectivity and cross-cultural overlaps.” The Tibetan artists participating in the show come from a traditional Tibetan roots and now live in highly commercial environments. The clash of cultures expressed through art is sure to bring another eye-opening and educational show to Portsmouth NH.

Author: Amanda Markell

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