Artistic exploration

The Thing in the Spring brings a bit of everything to downtown Peterborough

By JULIA ANN WEEKES
NH Weekend Editor
June 06. 2018 12:48PM
Singer songwriter Iris DeMent, who released “The Trackless Woods” in 2015, has dueted with Emmylou Harris, Nanci Griffith, John Prine and Steve Earle. 
If you go...
WHAT: The Thing in the Spring

WHEN: Through Sunday

WHERE: Various sites in Peterborough

ADMISSION: Free to many events, with fees charged for some concerts

INFO: thethinginthespring.com

Here’s the thing: The Thing in the Spring is much more than one thing.

It’s music. It’s art. It’s books. It’s film. It’s poetry. But more than anything, it’s an ever-shifting blend of those elements that draws a couple thousand to downtown Peterborough each year.

“I spend the entire year dreaming it up really,” said Eric Gagne, the president of the Glass Museum, which puts on the annual multiple-day event. “I try a lot of things, send a lot of emails, and it’s really just a reflection of what I’m into at the time, what folks have coming out (in terms of projects), and friends, and friends of friends.

“I do work with folks on the board, my wife (who is also one of the founders), and a number of other friends that I trust, to come up with such rich programming,” he said. “I’ve been booking shows for 20 years or so, and in that time I have been lucky to work with some amazing people. I draw on all of that experience, as well folks I meet on the road, to put together the best Thing I can each year.”

All that input makes for a diverse sensory experience over the course of five days.

It’s in the music with a lineup that this year brings to town the earnest storytelling of country-folk artist Iris DeMent, whose song “Let the Mystery Be” was the theme for the second season’s of HBO’s sci-fi series “The Leftovers.” DeMent’s bright and earnest twang eerily accompanied opening-credit family portraits in which random children and adults are depicted as empty silhouettes. In the series, 2 percent of the population has inexplicably vanished and left loved ones to don brave smiles to hide despair.

It’s on pages in “Mirror Mirrored,” a limited-edition book by co-authors Corwin Levi and Michelle Aldredge. Centering on 25 Grimms’ fairy tales, the artistic project reboots almost 2,000 vintage illustrations from the past 200 years into new collages, while nearly 30 contemporary artists offer their own takes on the time-honored tales. (See associated story on Page 5.)

It’s on the big screen with “Instructions of Parting,” director Amy Jenkins first-person film about dealing with pregnancy and a cancer diagnosis at the same time as three family members begin their final declines.

The film is an unusual approach to facing life and impending death. The passage of time is presented in a mix of artistic images and heart-tugging realities, from changing landscapes to heart-breaking phone messages about saying goodbye.

It’s in the signature Thing in the Spring art show and sale. It’s designed to give people a better chance at taking home everything from prints to clothing. Nothing at the Broke: Affordable Arts Fair will cost more than $50.

The 11th annual Thing in the Spring kicked off Wednesday and will continue through Sunday.

“Peterborough is an incredibly vibrant community with a strong arts scene, and these activities — that include many local creatives — puts all of that on display while also bringing in some amazing outside performers and artists,” Gagne said in an event press release.

About 30 bands, including Bonnie Prince Billy, Lonnie Holley and Dylan Carlson, are on the lineup.

Concert sites include Toadstool Bookshop, Harlow’s Pub, the Unitarian Universalist Church, Cooper’s Hill Public House, Mariposa Museum and Peterborough Town Hall.

DeMent is on a slate with Bonnie Prince Billy, Wooden Dinosaur, and Land of Enchantment at Peterborough Town Hall at 2 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door.

“Instructions of Parting” will screen at 2 p.m. today at the Peterborough Community Theatre. There is no admission fee.

Broke: The Affordable Arts Fair runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Peterborough Town Hall. There is no admission fee.

For a complete schedule of events, go to thethinginthespring.com.


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