It's a little like Superman. When Jeanné McCartin dons a funky hat, rose-colored glasses and gloves (white, of course), she turns into - ta da - "Gossip Lady," a well-known and much-appreciated character in the Seacoast arts scene. McCartin is on a one-woman (two, actually, but more on that later) crusade to promote the arts. After 16 years of covering arts and culture for the Portsmouth Herald and 10 years of writing the "Gossip Column" in the paper's Spotlight Magazine, they decided to turn her loose with a video camera. She hooked up with Deb Cram, who shoots and edits the video. They've done interviews with authors, comedians, Broadway stars and many others in a wide variety of artistic disciplines and venues. In her spare time, she's a sculptor, costume designer and gallery curator.How did Gossip Lady come into being? It was a desire to keep arts reporting current and more accessible as the newspaper field was changing; video seemed the perfect vehicle. But it couldn't have happened if photographer/videographer Deb Cram (DC in the videos) wasn't on board. She believed in the project and is its videographer and editor.Is Gossip Lady a character you're playing or is it you with a hat? And glasses and gloves, don't forget. Well, G. Lady is a mix. She and I are equally enthusiastic about the subjects we cover and are both afraid of heights. But hopefully I'm not quite as foolish as she is at times, and maybe less gushy - at least on the exterior. Truth is, Deb and I leave gushing after nearly every shoot, so maybe I'm lying to myself.What do you hope to accomplish? Lots, but most of all a greater appreciation and understanding of the arts. Art is powerful; it can transform the lives for those creating and partaking. Art has a bad reputation, though. It's perceived as fluff, the artists as beret-wearing attic-dwellers. It needs a good PR firm. Perhaps a quick glimpse behind the scenes can help others understand the work required to produce a play, painting, books, film, etc. Hopefully, an educated awareness leads to great exploration, participation and support.What's the most memorable moment from your interviews? Well, having Al Barr of the Drop Kick Murphys check out my leaky toilet is a good one. But, at the risk of sounding sappy, it's really when someone speaks with understanding and passion for theirs or another's art. It's infectious. It gets me every time.You're also a sculptor, and at one point sculpted masks. I continue to sculpt faces, but as they relate to the idea of a human's masks - what they choose to reveal or hide, and what we say about ourselves through our choices. I also sculpt a full spectrum of full figures, reliefs and scenes.It seems like you're having fun. A blast, actually. Deb and I love what we're doing. We enjoy each other and sharing our experiences. We're constantly awed and wowed by what we see and learn.
This article appears in the June 2011 issue of New Hampshire Magazine