Interview With Pamela Tarbell

 

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I met Pam at one of Gail Smuda’s “Ladies Luncheons” which have been held over the years in Concord, N.H., to introduce creative people to one another and to share ideas.  Later, Pam included some of my work in one of her exhibits. I’d been impressed by all the work and careful planning she did as a curator and manager of such a large indoor and outdoor venue, but I didn’t learn until recently that she, herself, is an amazing artist and that her volunteer efforts in many areas of the arts are so widespread and well recognized..

Pamela R. Tarbell has been owner and Director of the Mill Brook Gallery & Sculpture Garden, Concord, NH, for the past twenty years.   The gallery runs rotating exhibits, and an annual outdoor juried sculpture exhibit, by local, regional, and nationally known artists.

Tarbell is a past trustee of the League of New Hampshire Craftsmen, the New Hampshire Citizens for the Arts, and is currently on the Advisory Board for the New England Sculpture Association and a board member of Creative Concord and the Kimball Jenkins School of Art. She has participated on several committees to select public art and Percent for Arts in New Hampshire and Massachusetts. She  has been juried into the National Association of Women Artists; and received a 2015 “Outstanding Woman in Business Award” from the NH Business Review. She has a degree from the Rhode Island School of Design.

Gallery web site: www.themillbrookgallery.com

Personal Artist’s web site: www.pamtarbell.com

Marsh Kaleidoscope Series             Artist’s Statement

I have long been intrigued by walking along the marshes and seeing the varieties of vegetation overlapping each other, creating a net work of different designs and tangled patterns for the viewer to enjoy. The Marsh Kaleidoscope series gives tribute to this environmental significance by devising visual movement using bright colors and abstract and natural forms.

The Marsh or Wet Lands are, sadly, often ignored by developers and others.  But wet lands are far more important than the visual enjoyment; they are important to our lives. They create a filtration system that cleans our water ways, provides sanctuary for regional and migrating birds, a haven for mammals, and are home to various reptiles that digest the insects that often bother us. It is a self contained ecosystem that is important to all of us and our environment.

The Marsh Kaleidoscope Series gives tribute to this environmental importance with vibrating bright colors devised with visual movement.

Pat:  What was your inspiration for The Mill Brook Gallery and Sculpture Gardens and can you give us a little background on why you chose to do something so ambitious?

Pam: My motivation came from my after school art students whose parents had not taken them to a museums. This is a state capital with very little visual arts at that time (21 years ago) and that idea was disturbing. So, I spent a year going to the zoning board to achieve their approval. Third time back it passed and I was off and running

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 1   oil on canvas  60” x 40″

Pat:  I like that you encourage children to visit the gallery and gardens which New Hampshire Homes describes as combining “nature and art in a peaceful setting of perennial gardens, fields, woodlands, and ponds.”  Was it always your plan to include the family in this way?

Pam:  My degree is in ART Education. I started the gallery because the children in my art classes had seen so little fine art. They were the driving force. I wanted them to see fine art, and sometimes it was their first such experience

Pat:  As a painter yourself has it been difficult to pursue your own work while promoting the work of others?

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 6  oil on canvas   40” x 30″

Pam:  A BIG Yes on this question. Frustrating- that I have not achieved more. But, on the other hand my whole life is creative in so many ways. My friends are wonderful artists and my world has gotten bigger from this experience.

Pat  You have a very full gallery schedule from April through Dec. and yet you seem to paint more than ever.

Pam:   I paint in the winter and on my one day off a week. I am now a juried member of the National Ass. of Women Artists that has an very active Massachusetts Chapter. They have given me several more places to exhibit within driving distance, and my friends also help me with delivering my art work.

 

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 7  oil on canvas  40” x 30″

Pat:  You wear many additional hats.  Those I know about are teacher, speaker, and volunteer for a number of arts organizations.  Can you tell us a little about these additional roles and any others I don’t know about

Pam: I mainly volunteer with Creative Concord, under the Greater Concord Chamber of Commerce, and the Kimball Jenkins School of Art. After sitting at meetings for many years with the Chamber and seeing little progress I often felt like leaving, but slowly things have turned around and baby steps are being seen. The City of Concord has rented two sculptures for a year for our newly redesigned Main Street. This is progress!

I am also helping to organize a multi- facet community project with the Kimball Jenkins School of Art that will run from May-October, 2017, and will involve several segments of the Concord Community. It is exciting to have a large multi-Arts event in the works.

Pat:  Have you found it necessary to adjust your workload in any way as you grow older?

Pam: Yes.  Again, next year I am cutting back on the gallery hours and will not be open six days a week as I have been for twenty years from April to December. Starting in May, 2017, I shall be open Thursday-Sunday 11-5, and the rest of the time by appointment. I’m always hoping for more creative time.

Pat:  Have there been additional obstacles along the way that may have caused you to re-access your process or way of working?

Pam:  Can’t think of anything right now.

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 3   oil on canvas   60” x 40″

Pat:  Your Facebook presence suggests that your workload has expanded rather than decreased. Have there been fallow periods either in your painting career or your curating?

Pam:  I have always been painting, just not getting them out there as much as I should. As for the gallery,  I curate 95% of the exhibits. My volunteer work is what is expanding, as I cut back with the gallery.

Pat:  You were named Outstanding Woman in Business in New Hampshire in 2015.  Most artists have a difficult time with the business and promotional sides of their careers.  Did you essentially learn these skills by doing?

Pam:  I learned the skills from the seat of my pants and asking a lot of questions. I never had a goal of being a gallery director.  It was just something that happened along the way. I thought I was doing a community service for Concord, and for other communities further away.

Pat:  You are known for using non-traditional processes and mediums in your work.  Can you describe some of these?

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 2   oil on canvas  60” x 40″

Pam:  Right now I am just using oil paints on canvas, but in the past I have experimented with Rust-O-Olium, and gessoed leather on canvas.

Pat:  Your gallery and gardens are open in spring, summer, and fall.  Are the winter months a time of renewal for you or for planning and painting?  Or – as it appears –  are each of these elements a necessary and ongoing part of your creative life?

Pam:  I love winter and always have too much to do. It goes by very fast. I paint and plan the new gallery events.

Pat:  How do you see your work as a painter and as a curator and gallery director going forward?

Pam:  I hope to paint more and curate less.  Besides the expense involved, running a gallery takes a huge amount of time. There are many bills to pay such as insurance, openings, post cards, web site and email blasts for example. Many artists don’t appreciate what a gallery does for them, and the time involved. As I age I hope to do more for myself, because if you don’t do it for yourself no one else is going to.

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Marsh Kaleidoscope 4   oil on canvas  40” x 30″