Portsmouth, NH Thursday, April 17, 2003
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Eco-art to be displayed downtown this weekend

By Jesse J. DeConto
jdeconto@seacoastonline.com

PORTSMOUTH - Imagine if the McIntyre Federal Building site were still a grassy knoll. Imagine if the concrete Vaughan Mall were a field of wildflowers. Imagine if the creatures crawling through Market Square had four legs instead of four wheels.

Eco-artist Tim Gaudreau wants to stir the community’s imagination with six transparent "Nature Viewers" that will be located this weekend throughout the downtown.

To create his art, Gaudreau starts with photographs of natural scenes, then eliminates the backgrounds, leaving only the most prominent images against a clear canvas.

When Gaudreau places the Nature Viewers at six locations around city on Saturday, the uncluttered photographs of the natural subjects will be superimposed onto the urban landscapes. Gaudreau said traffic and sprawling development might distract residents from the natural beauty of Portsmouth.

"When we stop and see it again, we’re reminded of how beautiful it is," he said. "What I try to do is raise our cultural connection to nature."

Gaudreau, a 2003 artist-fellow with the New Hampshire Council on the Arts, was awarded a $5,000 grant to create public art displays. Portsmouth author Katherine Towler and painter/photographer Richard Haynes are also among the six fellows for 2003.

As part of his yearlong fellowship, Gaudreau has already created severa* Sprawl Viewers," which superimpose images of human development onto green spaces that are currently undeveloped.

In honor of Earth Day, which is next Tuesday, this weekend’s display takes the opposite approach. Gaudreau calls it "subversive eco-art."

"Eco-art is art that intends to challenge our cultural relationship to nature," he said.

His art is subversive, he said, because it appears not in galleries or museums but in places people visit every day. On Saturday and Sunday, Gaudreau will exhibit the Nature Viewers in the Vaughan Mall, in Market Square, on Hanover Street, on Daniel Street, on State Street and in Goodwin Park on Islington Street.

"It finds its way into the public realm without going into the normal channels," he said. "People don’t expect to see art, and they don’t expect to be challenged."

On the Net: www.wake-up.ws

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