BERLIN, N.H. — St. Kieran Arts Center has announced the opening of a large-scale retrospective art exhibition honoring and celebrating the life and works of sculptor, woodcut artist and master teacher, Robert Hughes, from 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 11, with guest speakers at 2 p.m. Featuring more than 100 art pieces from more than 22 collectors, the exhibition is a tribute to the life’s work of one of the North Country’s most respected artists on the fifth anniversary of his passing. 

Hughes was born in 1915 in Providence, R.I., and graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1939. After college, he moved to Berlin, where he began his 43-year teaching career in the town’s public schools. In the 1960s, he worked as a graphic designer and received a John Hays Fellowship. In acknowledgment of his impact on Berlin High School’s Art Department, Hughes was named the New Hampshire Teacher of the Year in 1975.

In 1989, the Rhode Island School of Design honored Hughes with the Alumni of the Year award. In 1991 New Hampshire honored him again as Living Treasure at the biennial Governors Arts Awards. In the same year he was featured on New Hampshire Crossroads and in the documentary film, “The City that Trees Built.”

Throughout his career Hughes was a participant in many Great North Woods celebrations and programs. Although primarily a sculptor, Hughes worked in many different media.

Included in the exhibition is a selection of sculptures in wood, granite and metal, woodcuts watercolors, marionettes, mobiles, charcoal portraits and caricatures. Examples of his large sculptures and carvings will include an 18-foot carved wall mural featuring Berlin historic sites and traditions, on loan from the Berlin Office of Citizen’s Bank, a larger than life-size carved woman figure loaned by Berlin High School, and a large yellow contemporary exterior metal sculpture on loan from Barry Kelly, created by Hughes for his own personal backyard enjoyment.

His works are on permanent display in the New Hampshire State Library and the Living Treasures exhibit in Concord, the New Hampshire State Prison in Berlin, the Coos County Courthouse in Lancaster and the New Hampshire Veterans Home in Tilton. Nationally his artwork can be found in private and public collections in New Hampshire, New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts and beyond.

In 2002, Hughes was chosen to create an ornament for the White House Christmas Tree based on the theme “All Creatures Great and Small,” and was invited to create the N.H. Governors Arts Award Living Treasure Award for 2003.

Hughes taught generations of artists in the Great North Woods and White Mountains through Berlin’s public schools, master classes and at his home studio. Hughes died on May 29, 2004, at the age of 88.

“We would also like to invite former students, friends, colleagues and members of the community to a special a “Evening to Reminisce and Remember” on Thursday evening, July 30, at 7 p.m. to share of memories and personal stories of Hughes’ extraordinary life as a professional artist, art teacher, classical music enthusiast and arts activist,” said Joan Chamberlain, St. Kieran executive director.

The exhibition will be on display Monday through Friday until Sept. 28. There is no admission for viewing the exhibition or participating in the activities, but donations are welcome. For more information or directions to the Arts Center, call 603-752-1028 or visit www.stkieranarts.org.


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