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Artful Plan for Retaining History

By Carol Robidoux Friday, July 27th, 2012 12:00 pm

Yvonne Dunetz considers the Gallery Wall at Rotary Commons a matter of synchronicity.

After spending many days contemplating the space at Rotary Commons and the new Reflection Garden and Labyrinth, Dunetz closed her eyes and saw the future.

She gathered up a few of the people who were instrumental in making the garden possible – Jack Tulley, President of and Sy Mahfuz, owner of the – and coaxed them to sit with her, facing the crumbling retaining wall along the rear parking lot of the , and close their eyes.

“Then I told them to open their eyes and envision the wall as the first ever outdoor gallery that celebrates our city’s past and present; a revolving gallery,” said Dunetz.

Since then, the idea has materialized into something unique – something Dunetz believes has never been done before. With the blessing of the city and a boost from the Adult Learning Center, which is on board as fiscal agent for the project, the wall is on its way to becoming a reality.

All that’s needed now is some community support in the way of donations to reach the $15,000 fundraising goal.

Getting there has been the result of collaboration and happenstance over the past few months.

Dunetz explains the concept of synchronicity, something that occurs “when things are meant to be and come to place and move forward.” That is what happened when, by chance, Dunetz stepped into the home of artist and photographer Yusuf Abudi, who was on a volunteer board offering web services for a different project Dunetz is involved with.

“He offered to host a meeting at his house. Had that not happened, I would have never discovered his amazing artwork,” said Dunetz, describing the images hanging on the walls of his home.

“I asked him where did he get them, and he said they were his work. I was blown away,” Dunetz said. “And as soon as I told him about the gallery project, he got it – right away. He understood the concept of celebrating the the heart and soul of our community. It was a moment of synchronicity. I had been searching for the right artist to work on the gallery project and there he was,” Dunetz said.

The wall, currently in a state of disrepair, is 180 feet long and will be “divided” into two parts – the left side will be used to display a historical timeline of the city, while the right side will be used to display 12 stylized photographs printed on UV protected canvas, each measuring 3-feet-by-4.5 feet, contributed by Abudi.

The replacement wall will be constructed with Abudi’s design in mind, with mounting frames made of composite material on which the artwork will be hung in aluminum weather-resistant frames using UV anti-glare acrylic covers.

He uses a process known as high dynamic range photography, which results in a dramatic, detailed image achieved through layering of images, resulting in a vibrant, almost 3D effect.

“Nothing is completely vandal proof, but we think this will be durable,” Abudi said.

Dunetz and Abudi mapped out their concept for the far side of the wall in the form of a proposal and took it to Mayor Donnalee Lozeau.

“The mayor, in all her wisdom, saw an opportunity for collaboration. She knew that the Adult Learning Center had been approved for Community Development Block Grant money to repair their crumbling retaining wall,” Dunetz said.

It would be the perfect time to reconstruct the wall with this project in mind.

It seemed more than a happy coincidence, said Mary Jordan, Executive Director of the Adult Learning Center.

“We’d been working with the city for allocation to fix our 1924 wall, which was crumbling. And at the same time Yvonne was talking about this art project. We were very interested in the idea,” Jordan said.

Since then, the Gallery Wall committee – which along with Jordan, Dunetz and Abudi, also includes Tulley, Mahfuz and John Callahan, of , have met with to request $5,000 in funding toward the project.

The group has already raised $1,000 in seed money – half of it from an anonymous donor. The rest, they are hopeful, will come from individuals from the community who see the merit of such a project, that will combine artful renderings of city landmarks to be installed on the new wall, once completed.

Right now the timeline for completion is by November, with a formal dedication in the spring of 2013. Dunetz is optimistic that the money can be raised within the next few weeks.

“One of the most exciting things is that we’ve looked around, and we’ve found nothing like it,” said Abudi. “I’ve lived in the area for 12 years and the city desperately needs this celebration of art and history. I see it as a perfect starting point for a walking tour of art and history.”

“Yes, and we hope to be a model for other cities,” Dunetz said, already thinking ahead to the future of the wall.

“Two years from now it will be a revolving gallery because our present becomes Nashua’s past, and we continue forward, so my thought was in two years we will reach out to the youth in our community and have them come forth with their view of the present, and so the past continues to build,” Dunetz said.

“This gallery will be a growing gallery, one that will age with us as we move into the future and one that will be constantly present – and something everybody will be proud of because it’s evolving, and because it educates us along the way,” Dunetz said.

How to Donate

Donations for the Gallery at the Wall at Rotary Commons are tax-deductible and can be mailed to The Adult Learning Center: attention Marie, 4 Lake St., Nashua, NH 03060. In the memo section of your check please write: Gallery at the Wall R.C.

For more information, contact Yvonne Dunetz at ydunetz@msn.com.

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