Beyond the Brush: The North Conway League of NH Craftsmen Gallery
This gallery offers a selective blend of sophisticated contemporary craft along with historical and traditional favorites
Winter is here, which means that snow and long days cooped up inside with nothing to do are, too. To help stave off the grumpiness of this season, chilly temperatures, and cabin fever, we’re starting “Beyond the Brush,” a series of profiles introducing you to the many unique art galleries around New Hampshire.
For our latest profile, check out the North Conway League of NH Craftsmen Gallery in North Conway. We spoke to owner and manager Karissa Masse to learn more this landmark for locals and visitors alike, exhibiting the finest of New Hampshire’s crafts and furnishings. Read on to learn all about their pottery studio, regular craft classes, and unique jewelry, furniture, pottery, blown glass, forged iron, woven baskets, and fiber arts, just to name a few.
Tell us about the history of your gallery.
Karissa: “The League of NH Craftsmen first opened its doors in North Conway during the Great Depression in 1932. As part of a craft movement that swept the state of New Hampshire during that time, the gallery sprung from the establishment of its mother non-profit organization, the League of NH Craftsmen, now one of the oldest and most recognized craft organizations in the country. During the Great Depression, this organization supported craftsmen by helping craftspeople sell their work, hone their skills, and generate an income for themselves and their families. The North Conway shop was established, along with shops in Sandwich and Wolfeboro, and the first Annual League of NH Craftsmen Fair, (now the oldest craft fair in the country) all in an effort to support and promote craft during that time.”
What makes your gallery special or different?
Karissa: “Our gallery exhibits fine crafts and furnishings exclusively by juried artists from New Hampshire or within 10 miles of the NH border. The over 250 artists represented have been meticulously juried by other craftsmen of their fields, resulting in a collection of work that is extraordinary.”
What’s the story behind the name of your gallery?
Karissa: “This historical gallery has operated in North Conway as the ‘League of NH Craftsmen,’ ‘League of NH Arts and Crafts’ and similar names, for 90 years now!”
What are you best known for?
Karissa: “The gallery is brimming with unique jewelry, furniture, pottery, blown glass, forged iron, woven baskets, printmaking, photography and fiber arts, just to name a few. In addition to perusing the gallery, the North Conway League of NH Craftsmen Gallery also offers regular craft classes to the local community, and has a full pottery studio on site.”
Tell us about your artists. What styles of art do you feature? Any parcular disciplines?
Karissa: “When the League of NH Craftsmen first began, alongside it a League of NH Artists also began. The artist organization has dismantled over the years, but our craftsmen organization carries on. Under this umbrella, the League showcases three-dimensional craft forms including sculpture, pottery, glass, woodworking, metalsmithing, fiber arts etc, as well as two-dimensional craft forms such as printmaking (woodblock, linocut, etchings, etc.), photography, paintings on silk and encaustics. We showcase a blend of sophisticated contemporary craft along with historical and traditional.”
Do you have any exciting exhibits planned for 2022? Any other events?
Karissa: “We’re hoping to get our craft education program back up and running this year, after a long break in activity during COVID.”
What keeps you passionate about the arts?
Karissa: “With all the creativity here in the gallery, it’s hard not to be inspired. And our loyal patronage has such a deep appreciation for the talents and the brilliance of our local artists and craftsmen, it keeps us excited about showcasing and selling the work.”
How can people best support you right now?
Karissa: “Bringing a piece of art home from this place, even if it’s just a mug for your coffee, reminds us each to appreciate and support the fellow artists and craftsmen in our communities.”