Beginning in 2020, confined to their home, painting became an everyday escape for Gary and Suzi Graham.
Painters Gary and Suzi Graham (he’s a watercolorist, she favors acrylics), proprietors of The Graham Gallery, found their way to the art world organically — and a little virally.
Professionally, he’s an architect and she’s a (retired) attorney. Both have talent to spare, but until the pandemic shook things up, they only indulged their passion at the occasional workshop, or enjoying painting vacations in Vermont and several locations in Europe, studying with artists like Graeme Booth, Thomas Schaller, and Iain Stewart.
But beginning in 2020, confined to their home, painting became their everyday.
“We have a little nice room in our house that was really never used for anything,” said Gary. “So we made it an art studio.”
Between plein air workshops, online courses and their affiliation with the Portsmouth Arts Guild, Gary says he works on about three or four paintings a week, while Suzi admits she is a little less prolific. “Gary’s more dedicated,” she laughed. “He will be up ’til midnight painting, you know.”
The Portsmouth Arts Guild has become an important outlet for both artists; their plein air group meets year-round, noting that in the coldest months it’s more of a drive-through experience. “Gary drives the car so he picks the spot,” Suzi said, pointing to a lovely watercolor of the barn at Colt Park. Suzi’s view from the passenger window, which apparently included a porta-potty, was not on display — though a recently completed landscape was, a richly textured composition, characteristic of her work.
Officially opened around the beginning of 2022, The Graham Gallery has hosted three shows to date, the first featuring sculptor Timothy Michael Hetland. The second showed the work of local watercolor painter Bill Lane, and most recently, Jeanne Cardarelli Raimondi, who works in oils, acrylics, and mixed media, exhibited.
Currently, the Gallery is featuring “A Bear, A Dog, and Mayhem,” an Illustrators Showcase, featuring the work of children’s illustrators R.W. Alley, Thea Ernest, whose work on Susan Joyce’s Billy the Rescue Dog is her first collaboration as a book illustrator, and Max Alley, a storyboard artist with Nickelodeon.
Of R.W. Alley’s more than 100 collaborations, he is most well known for being the sole illustrator of Michael Bond’s Paddington Bear books, for the past 20 years.
The Gallery is hosting or co-hosting several events this month in conjunction with this exhibit. This Sunday, Oct. 9 at 10:30 a.m., come meet Billy the Rescue Dog in real life, and enjoy a reading with author Susan Joyce and Illustrator Thea Ernest, located in Independence Park, right across from their Gallery at 412A Thames St.
A Meet the Artist event will also be held with Thea Ernest on Thursday, Oct, 13 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Gallery.
Then on Saturday, Oct. 15 at 10:30 a.m., Rogers Free Library, 525 Hope St., will host a Paddington Bear Storytime, which will include a reading and drawing with R.W. Alley. Participants should bring their own drawing materials. For more information, call 401-254-6948. Books will be available at the event, or you may pre-order from Barrington Books, 401-245-7925.
Current hours for The Graham Gallery are Thursday and Friday from 1 to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from noon to 5 p.m.; that will change with the seasons. For more information or appointments, call 401-293-0657 or visit thegrahamgalleryri.com.