Beyond the brush: Aplomb contemporary portrait gallery

Danielle Festa with her painting “Taken. Found.”

Winter is here, which means snow and long days locked inside doing nothing. To help ward off this season’s low mood, cold temperatures, and cabin fever, we’re launching “Beyond the Brush,” a series of profiles introducing you to New Hampshire’s many unique art galleries.

For our latest profile, check out Aplomb Contemporary Portrait Gallery in Dover. We spoke to owner Danielle Festa to learn more about her brand new gallery and studio. Read on to learn all about how the gallery will showcase the power of a portrait to become a meaningful tribute.

Tell us the story of your gallery.
Danielle“I have been an active member of the Dover art community since moving here in 2016 and for a decade before that in Somerville, Massachusetts. I helped co-found the first Friday Dover Art Walk and became director in 2017. When the pandemic hit and it was time to take a step back, I began to focus more on my own work while dealing with my own personal and family traumas, which led to the concept of Opening of Aplomb Having curated dozens of exhibitions during my time in the Boston area, I also wanted to return to bringing artists together in my space.

What makes your gallery special or different?
Danielle: “While there are many galleries of landscapes or abstractions on the coastline, Aplomb focuses on contemporary portraiture. I plan to exhibit my own work of commissioned or gifted subjects from the Portrait Project each year, while also organizing several group and individual exhibitions throughout the year.

Figure paintings of the Renaissance period were reserved for the wealthy and powerful, with carefully selected clothing to emphasize their important place in society. I shine a light on another kind of power, one that resides in individuals who have overcome challenges, painted in outfits that showcase their strength.

Nominations are accepted for direct commissions, crowd-funded paintings, or nominations for gifted portraiture supported by local sponsors and individual monthly patrons. Learn how to apply as a subject, nominate someone else or support the project at

In addition to exhibiting work in rotation, I will also be teaching a variety of workshops. Lessons and private lessons can be taken in person or via Zoom.

What is the story behind the name of your gallery?
Danielle: “I chose the name Aplomb for my contemporary portraits gallery and studio because it represents the kind of work I want to showcase in my own ongoing series and when curating exhibitions. I capture the beauty in perseverance and poise after overcoming challenges. It’s my mission to inspire others by sharing stories of strength through visual art.

What are you best known for?
Danielle: “As a contemporary artist, I am known for hyper-realistic oil painting with unconventional materials. I am also known for being an involved member of the artistic community and an early adopter of technology by sharing my work via the virtual reality.

Tell us about your artists. What styles of art do you present? Any disciplines in particular?
Danielle: “‘Plus fort’ is the first collective exhibition from January 25 to March 5, 2022 with a closing reception on March 5 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. A dozen portrait artists from New England and across the country will present works that evoke inspiration through portraiture. The artists will use different mediums to share personal experiences and interpretations of the emotions that arise when faced with difficult times.

In an abundance of caution, pre-registration, staggered attendance, vaccination record and masks are mandatory to attend the reception. Visit our website to register or schedule a guided tour.

Exhibiting artists include Chris D’Amore, Danielle Festa, Tarja Harney, Bruce Jones, Phoenix Mayet, Eliza Moser, Erica Nazzaro, Melissa Scheid Frantz, Vanessa Simms, Lydia Spencer and Andrija Zeković and Mark Zimmerman.

Do you have any exciting exhibitions planned for 2022? Other events?
Danielle: “The next exhibition after ‘Stronger’ will be ‘The Eyes Have It’ from March 19 to May 19, 2022. This exhibition will also be presented in virtual reality like the ‘Stronger’ exhibition last fall. With ArtGate VR, visitors can view work from around the world on an Oculus headset, or with a PC or Mac.The Portrait Project exhibition opens in June and contemporary artist Michelle Doll will be invited to hold a solo exhibition in September.

What excites you about the arts?
Danielle: “Traditional art has evolved to be more inclusive than ever thanks to pervasive technology. I’m really drawn to the idea of ​​art being open to everyone. For me, painting and looking at art is therapeutic, and I think it can be for many. In my new body of work, I want to allow subjects to see themselves in a more powerful light. I also really enjoy bringing other artists together to showcase a variety of mediums and techniques. nuanced in the modern portrait.

How can people best support you right now?
Danielle: “Sponsoring gifted commission portraits is a great way to support the gallery and help those who have been through difficult times to showcase their strength. If you are a portrait painter, consult my calls for applications. For anyone wanting to learn something new, check out the current courses or private lessons available. Finally, if you or someone you know has been through a medical crisis, traumatic experience, or loss and is ready to celebrate strength, a contemporary oil painting is a permanent way to represent and honor courage. in a tangible way. Applications are accepted for direct commissions, crowdfunded paintings, or applications for gifted portraits supported by local sponsors and individual monthly patrons.

Julia P. Cluff