CANVAS: Celebrating the art of the can

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For our 45th anniversary, on April 20, 2023, 2-6pm, we presented an exhibit entitled “CANVAS” celebrating the art of the can…. Or more specifically, the label art ON the cans of our beer-brewing customers.

What’s the motivation for the CANVAS art exhibit?

Week after week, year after year, we watch labels go out our doors. Many are stunningly beautiful. And that is how the idea for CANVAS started: Recognizing the art of the label. The actual art that was created to be part of the label design is worthy of notice, display and appreciation. Just like art in a museum or gallery!

Amherst Label President Nye Hornor introduced the exhibit plan to employees at our Soup Day Luncheon on February 15, 2023. The first CANVAS selection, “Something of Ourselves” by Nico LeBarge for Bissell Brothers, was mounted as a sample to show what the exhibit will include.

What’s the background here?

For our 40th anniversary in 2018, Amherst Label installed gallery lighting and designated an art space in our cafeteria. Our inaugural exhibit featured the work of notable regional artist Stanley Hallett, the uncle of the owner of Amherst Label. We had employee art exhibits after that and have pretty much been dreaming about a customer art exhibit ever since.

Why CANVAS/beer labels and not all customer labels? We focused on beer labels because we produce so many gorgeous beer labels. If this project is a huge success, we would love to feature other customer labels in the future, for example coffee, wine or specialty foods.

What kinds of art will be featured?

Before any selections were made, we set aside labels featuring beautiful works of art. Watercolors, oils, acrylics and digital art. No particular preference, just impactful art. We expect that the final exhibit will include many media.

How will the artwork be chosen? The nominations will close at the end of February. Depending on the number of pieces submitted, the final art will be curated either in-house or with outside expertise. In-house, our marketing manager (Ruth Sterling, pictured at right) majored in art in college and has a history of creating and displaying art, as well as developing exhibits in museum settings. She’s getting lots of input from the Al-team but none of us would ever want to disappoint a customer. So if we have to make tough decisions, we are prepared to bring in an outside art consultant to help jury the entries.

Whose art will be featured? We started with a few of our favorites but mostly we are asking customers to submit their proudest pieces. The first piece, hung to demonstrate the CANVAS project for employees, is a beautiful painting by Nico LeBarge of Bissell Brothers. The art, the artist, the brewer and the brew all have wonderful stories we are excited to share VIDEO.

How big is the CANVAS exhibit?

The final presentation will include 15+/- framed reproductions of the original artworks.

What else will be on display?

In addition to presenting the art in frames on the wall, the actual cans will also be displayed. So along with high-resolution art files, we will be collecting the customers’ products. Demonstrating our longtime motto, “Every label tells a story,” the background on each piece and each artist will also be shared.

In addition to the Art Opening and unveiling of the CANVAS exhibit, the bar will be open for tastings of the various beers. (April 20, 2023, 2-6pm)

What can attendees expect at the opening reception on Thursday, April 20?

In addition to the Art Opening and unveiling of the CANVAS exhibit, the bar will be open for tastings of the various beers. We are delighted to have a professional bartender on our staff—Sherri Edwards, our Customer Service Manager. She will be running a carefully-monitored but fun tasting. Other refreshments, tours of the facility and maybe a few surprises are also planned.

Who is invited to attend the opening?

The exhibit will feature beer labels from all over the Northeast and we are very much hoping that customers, artists and colleagues will join us. Memberships of the NH, ME, MA, VT, NY, RI and CT brew associations will be invited. Our employees, their families, neighbors, community members and press will be invited to attend by RSVP. Members of the Greater Merrimack Souhegan Valley Chamber of Commerce are also on the guest list.

If I can’t get to the opening, could I get another chance to see the exhibit?

Yes, the exhibit will be up at least until the fall of 2023 and we would be happy to host guests by appointment. Email to arrange a visit.

How do I submit art to be considered for CANVAS?

During February, Email and send an image of the label. That will start the process. From there, we need to be sure we have the artist’s blessing and then we will need contact information for the customer and artist. We will need a high-res file of the art. And eventually we will need a can for display and potentially a supply to share at the opening tastings.

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