Another pit stop on our trip home from Maine was artstream, a spacious, sun-filled gallery in Rochester, NH.  Rochester is about 40 miles south of where I grew up.  In high school, my friends and I used to drive all the way to Rochester just to go to the movies, because it was the closest movie theater.  You could say I lived in the middle of nowhere, and you would be right.

artstream is run by Susan Schwake, an artist, educator, and advocate for both emerging artists and the downtown Rochester community.  The large front part of the gallery has lots of eye candy, and in the back they offer fine art classes for all ages.

For those of you not planning a trip to NH anytime soon, there’s also an artstream shop where you can find affordable prints, or if you’ve got a bigger piggy bank, one of Amy Ruppel’s animal portraits.

Meeting Susan and visiting her inspiring space made me nostalgic for the small town life of my childhood and teenage years.  New Hampshire is where the country in this girl was born, and I think I’ve spent the last several years looking for ways to bring it back to my city girl life.  The house upstate is the most obvious example.  But also the interest in gardening, furniture projects, county fairs, yard sales, sun tea, food co-ops, and dirt roads.

Back to artstream.  From what I can recall, Susan also lived in New York for several years (Brooklyn, pre-hipsters) before embarking upon her dreams of moving to the country, running a space and building a sustainable career in art.  Her story sounded a lot like the one I have in my head.

Lisa Congdon

We did have an agenda for our visit: Ashley Goldberg.

Ashley Goldberg’s illustrations have been featured on places like Design*Sponge and poppytalk, but it wasn’t until I saw her latest series “Progress” that I became obsessed.

Progress, black I and II

I had this picture (taken by artstream) from the “Progress” show up on my computer for a few months.

The show was still running when Anuj and I were planning to drive home from Maine.  Naturally, we had to stop by so I could see it for myself.

Now one of them (“Progress, black 1”) is on our wall.

I love the scale of the piece, and the movement of the circles and lines – something about them reminds me of the rope mesh in a lobster trap.

Ashley has a blog you can check out here, and an etsy shop here.