North of Boston arts and leisure roundup | Way of life


Artists host holiday sale in Newburyport

Original artworks and holiday gifts by three diverse artists — Carly Baker, Heather Kehney and Alan Bull — will be showcased this weekend at Bull’s studio in Newburyport.

Featuring abstract oils on canvas, light-drenched harbor scenes, and paintings of Newburyport and Maine, as well as calendars, cards and prints, the show will be on view Saturday, Dec. 12, and Sunday, Dec. 13, from noon to 4 p.m., or by appointment.

Bull has been exhibiting his art in Newburyport for more than 30 years. Originally from Maine, he studied at the Philadelphia College of Art and works in a wide variety of media and subject matter, including portraits, landscapes and murals.

Kehney currently lives and paints in Newburyport and has been experimenting with paint since 2005. “I love color and abstract forms and find inspiration through music and nature,” she said.

Baker paints colorful, evocative views of landscapes and coastal scenes with expressionistic brushwork and textures. She lives and paints in Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The studio is located at 18 Graf Road, Unit 18, second floor, with stair access only. Face masks are required, and there will be a limit of two guests at one time to allow for social distancing.

For more information or to schedule a private viewing, call 978-417-9778.

College presenting online exhibit, play

A new exhibit at Northern Essex Community College’s Linda Hummel-Shea ArtSpace Gallery draws attention to eating disorders, using black-and-white photos and poems to illustrate the personal struggles of one woman.

The poems were written by Amesbury resident Michelle Howard and inspired by her sister’s struggle with an eating disorder for 30-plus years. Howard then asked her cousin Charlene Yelle, a Newburyport photographer, to create a companion photo for each of the eight poems.

“The Thin Woman” is being displayed online only through Tuesday, Dec. 15. To view the exhibit, visit

Additionally, the college’s Top Notch Players will stream a production of “Love Letters” by A.R. Gurney from Thursday, Dec. 10, through Saturday, Dec. 12.

In this tragic comedy, childhood friends read communication they have exchanged over a 50-year period, beginning with birthday thank-you notes as children and continuing with a lifetime of letters that detail marriages, careers, dreams and disappointments.

The performance is directed by NECC theater and communication professor Bri Beatrice and stars Samantha Wheatley and Stephen Caliskan.

To access the play, visit Viewing is free, but donations will be accepted; email Beatrice for more information at

Seasonal festivals adapt to the times 

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred several communities to get creative with their traditional Festival of Trees celebrations, and there is still time to take part in a few.

The Buttonwoods Museum in Haverhill has scaled down for its 19th annual event, but more than 100 decorated Christmas trees, wreaths and centerpieces are still being displayed and raffled off.

Visitors can continue to see the trees at 240 Water St. on Wednesday, Dec. 9, and Thursday, Dec. 10, from noon to 8 p.m.; Friday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 12, from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday, Dec. 13, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

General admission is $7 for adults, $5 for senior citizens, $3 for children ages 6-17, and free for children 5 and younger. Raffle tickets will be sold at the entrance for $1 each, six for $5 and 25 for $20.

Face masks are required, and sanitization protocols and guidelines will be followed. For more information, visit

Salisbury’s SeaFestival of Trees is spreading its roots to the beach center, downtown Newburyport and Hampton Falls, with 30 trees on display and up for grabs in various retail locations. For maps and a peek at all the trees, visit

Additionally, a giant gingerbread house and a display of high-value showcase trees — one with $5,000 cash and four with prizes worth $1,500 to $3,000 — are on view in the lobby of the Blue Ocean Event Center.

Raffle tickets can be purchased at Tickets for the chance to win a showcase tree are two for $10, five for $20 and 10 for $40, while tickets for the donor trees are 20 for $5, 40 for $10 and 80 for $20.

Tree viewing is free this year and available through Sunday, Dec. 20. For more information, call 978-462-2512.

In Methuen, the Festival of Trees at Greycourt State Park, 37 Pleasant St., is a drive-through event open every evening from 5:30 to 8:30 through Saturday, Dec. 19.

Admission is $10 per car, or $8 if purchased in advance at And although the tree raffles have ended, website visitors can still bid on silent auction items, through Dec. 12, and enter a drawing to win $10,000.

‘Winter Baroque’ concert to stream online

The Newburyport Chamber Music Festival is bringing back “Winter Baroque” to celebrate the holidays as part of its “Season 2020 Reimagined.”

Presented Sunday, Dec. 20, at 3 p.m., the pre-recorded concert will feature two audience favorites, Nurit Pacht playing violin and Eliana Razzino Yang on cello.

Pacht, who has led the Newburyport Festival Baroque Orchestra annually for several years, will perform selected canons from Bach’s “Art of the Fugue”; a sonata for violin and cello by Italian composer Francesco Maria Veracini; and a Baroque world premiere in the 21st century by Vietnamese-Polish composer Ania Vu, “Dance Variations on a Theme by J.S. Bach.”

Yang, who has performed solo recitals in New York, London, Paris, Brussels and Rome, will join Pacht and will also perform Bach’s Sixth Suite for Unaccompanied Cello.

In lieu of tickets, voluntary donations are requested. Visit for more information and the link to the concert, which will be available shortly before it begins.

Take in new plays from home 

The Newburyport theater community has a few virtual performances premiering this week.

The Actors Studio of Newburyport’s third annual Short Play Festival is taking place in two acts via YouTube, with the first available through Sunday, Dec. 13.

The featured plays are “The Next Ivan Sharansky,” a hilarious look inside Hollywood by Jim Geoghan; “I Wish…,” a play exploring what two people and a cat have in common with tofu by Judith Strang-Waldau; “When I fall in love, it will be…,” a story of love and kinship by Susan Middaugh; “Family Secrets,” a story of two sisters reuniting — sort of — by Emily McClain; and “Meet Millie,” by Amanda Sage Comerford, in which a budding real estate agent must deal with her parents before she can deal with her first client.

Admission is $10. To register, go to Registrants will receive a YouTube link with their order confirmation.

Act two will premiere in January.

On Saturday, Dec. 12, at 10 a.m., the North Shore Readers Theater Collaborative is presenting a staged reading of “The Caregivers” by Nancy Temple.

Directed by Arlene Barnard and featuring Leslie Aisner, Dina Crawford and Jennifer Wilson, the event will be held via Zoom, with a talk-back to follow. The play is about unacknowledged limitations, meanness, compromise, incompetence — but also about vulnerability and the need for love — and about what happens when characters with different agendas collide.

The collaborative regularly presents new plays from local and regional playwrights. A number of plays in the series have won awards and have been produced locally and internationally.

To sign up for the free performance and to see other upcoming events, visit

Another new play, presented by Acting Out Productions, can be seen on Friday, Dec. 11, at 8 p.m. and Saturday, Dec. 12, at 3 p.m.

“The Gathering” is a thriller written by Jack Neary exclusively for Zoom presentation. It shows what can happen when a simple online family get-together evolves into a gripping, terrifying nightmare as one of the family members is taken hostage by an intruder.

The cast includes Acting Out producers John and Deirdre Budzyna, along with John Manning, Lizzie Cormier, Tommy Carnes, Geoff Adams, Dave Sullivan, and Corinne and Tom Hickey. The stage manager is Teri Contino.

To register, visit The cost is $10 for a single ticket and $25 for a family ticket.

Decking the halls of a castle  

Gloucester’s Hammond Castle Museum celebrates the season with the return of its “Deck The Halls” program, as well as two visits from Santa Claus.

The museum, at 80 Hesperus Ave., is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in December for guided tours.

The visits with Santa are set for Thursday, Dec. 10, and Friday, Dec. 11, from noon to 4 p.m. Each child will be presented with a new wrapped gift, a signed photo of Santa and an opportunity to have a photo taken with Santa using green screen technology to keep it socially distanced. Child tickets are $25, and adults are $5. 

Groups will be limited to eight visitors at a time, with social distancing and face masks required for all who visit. Registration is required for both programs. Tickets are available online at

Colorful new exhibit at Paula Estey Gallery

A solo exhibit by artist Carol Benally is on display through the month of December at the Paula Estey Gallery and Center for Art and Activism.

“Walking Through Color” features real places, brought to fruition by thoughtful contemplation, light at the right moment of a season and personal exploration of color through years of plein-air studies.

The gallery, located at 3 Harris St., Newburyport, is open Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and by appointment. For more information, call 978-376-4746 or visit

Salem State hosts online performances

“The Long Christmas Ride Home,” a play by Paula Vogel, is being presented by Salem State University virtually through Thursday, Dec. 10.

Past, present and future collide on a snowy Christmas Eve for a troubled family of five in the show, which was filmed by the theater department in the Sophia Gordon Center for Creative and Performing Arts.

Tickets are $10 for the general public and free for students. Visit to purchase. 

Amesbury author’s books to be explored

The Amesbury Carriage Museum is launching a new book club, “Mystery & History,” on Wednesday, Dec. 9.

Participants will read and discuss the first five books in the Quaker Midwife Mystery Series by Amesbury resident and award-winning author Edith Maxwell. The novels take place in Amesbury in the late 1880s and incorporate authentic events, covering the social and political issues of the time.

The club will meet online, via Zoom, from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. on the second Wednesday of each month, through April. Each session will have a short introduction by an expert guest, then break into two groups of 10 participants for open discussion guided by a moderator.

The first book is “Delivering the Truth,” and Maxwell will be the guest.  

The club is free and open to all museum members. To become a member, visit Prices start at $25. To register for the book club, visit 

Light show brightens up the holidays

A drive-through holiday lights spectacular is now open at Crescent Farms in Haverhill.

The North Shore Holiday Light Show features dozens of never-before-seen displays, some towering as tall as three stories and spanning more than 50 feet in length.

Presented by BOLD Media, the show is synchronized with holiday music being broadcast over FM radio. It takes about 20-25 minutes to drive through.

The show will remain open on select dates through Dec. 30. A full schedule is available at, where tickets can be purchased for $23 per car.

Tickets may also be available at the gate for $25.

Cabot presents virtual children’s programs

The “Kids at The Cabot” children’s series presented by The Cabot in Beverly has returned in a virtual format.

All performances will start at 10:30 a.m. and are free, sponsored by New England Biolabs, but donations are welcome.

“While we’re sad we can’t host our community’s children and their families at the theater, we’re still thrilled to be able to provide local family-friendly programming virtually,” said J. Casey Soward, executive director of The Cabot.

The lineup includes Bill Harley on Dec. 12, Vanessa Trien on Jan. 9, Karen K and the Jitterbugs on Feb. 13, The Gottabees on March 6, and Stacey Peasley on April 10. 

For more information, including streaming links on the show dates, visit 

Take in virtual symphony concerts

Cape Ann Symphony has announced a virtual concert series featuring its musicians under the direction of conductor Yoichi Udagawa. The inaugural concert, “A Lovely Presentation of Chamber Music,” is available to view online now.

The program includes “Mother and Child” by William Grant Still, known as the “dean of Afro-American composers”; Mozart’s “Divertimento, K. 136”; excerpts from Danish String Quartet’s “Wood Works,” which are arrangements of Scandinavian folk songs; and Holst’s “St. Paul Suite.”

This concert features concertmaster David Rubin, violin; Kett Chuan Lee, principal cello; Oksana Gorokhovskiy, principal second violin; and Anna Stromer, principal viola.

The virtual concert is viewable online for $20; purchase at or by calling 978-281-0543. The purchase provides audience members with a video download link, which can be viewed at one’s convenience and does not expire.

A wealth of American art to discover at the Addison

The Addison Gallery of American Art on the campus of Phillips Academy in Andover has reopened to the public.

Hours are Fridays and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 to 5 p.m.

New safety guidelines are in place, including mandatory reservations and mask wearing. Admission is still free, but advance tickets must be purchased at

The gallery is said to have one of the most comprehensive collections of American art in the world, including more than 23,000 objects spanning the 18th century to the present.

All of those items can now be viewed at the museum’s website by searching for particular works, artists, themes or periods. There are suggestions at the website for art-related projects and activities that families can do together and a link to virtual tours of 10 great museums around the world.

In addition, the exhibits currently on display at the Addison can be viewed in a virtual tour on the website, where visitors can also watch interviews with museum staff.

Check it out at   

Rockport gallery brings Paris home

“Paris Redeemed,” a virtual art exhibit presented by Decouvert Fine Art in Rockport, is available to view through the end of the year.

Gallery owners Steven Law and Donald Stroud had planned to bring their exhibit “Grace in Nature and Faith” to Paris after its successful showing at Master Drawings New York. But when they began to pack in the spring for the exhibition at Marty de Cambiaire Fine Art on Place Vendome, the pandemic hit and began closing down events.

“It was an opportunity of a lifetime,” Law said. “Then the world came to a standstill as the pandemic intensified, and we made a decision not to go and temporarily closed our gallery until a vaccine is available. We do not have the square footage to allow for social distancing.

“There has been so much loss and suffering around the world,” he said. “Like so many in businesses, we are between what has been and what will be. But an idea occurred to us that if beauty and art have a capacity to help those that are suffering, we have an obligation to make our exhibition available virtually, as a meditation of sorts.”

Hence, the title of the virtual exhibit is “Paris Redeemed.” The exhibit is set to Handel’s “Dixit Dominus,” which was composed in Italy, a source of inspiration for artists throughout the centuries.

“We wish healing, hope, inspiration, and solace for all,” Law said. “If folks wish to learn a bit about the history of the art, they can scroll down the page after the slideshow is finished. Curiosity will lead them where it will.”

To view the exhibit, visit the “Paris Redeemed” page at

Guests welcome again at Newburyport gallery

Newburyport’s Sweethaven Gallery is once again open to the public.

The 25L Inn St. space is open Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays from noon to 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. However, only three people will be allowed in at a time, and masks and temperature checks are required.

The featured exhibit is “Presence: Witnessing the Voice of Nature” by Lisa Hoag. The award-winning artist, photographer and designer lives in western Massachusetts and studied fine art at Parsons School of Design in New York and art and design in an arts residency in Paris for two years.

Also on display and for sale are works by Ezra Sesto, Vincent Lemonnier Ferro, Don Williams, gallery owner Greg Nikas, C. Max Schenk, Paul Neverette, Sandra Swan, Chris Sava and Jacques Hnizdovsky.

The gallery also now offers an online shopping cart, available to browse at

Game show fun at ‘Balderdash Academy’

Newburyport High School’s facade serves as the inspiration for Balderdash Academy, a fictional private boarding school that is the setting for a new online comedy panel game show.

Originally conceived by co-founders Bob LeBlanc of Newburyport and Steve Corning of Maine as a live variety show, “Balderdash Academy” was adapted to an online format in light of the coronavirus pandemic.

New episodes are posted regularly on YouTube and feature a mix of interview, chat, improv and game show with an emphasis on lighthearted comedy. The storyline follows faculty members as they talk to guests and compete for the coveted Balderdash Academy Reigning Champion banner.

To check out the show and for more information, visit

Rockport Art Association opens its doors

The Rockport Art Association & Museum, at 12 Main St. in downtown Rockport, has reopened and is featuring a number of new exhibits.

On display through Dec. 31 are “Art in the Tavern,” a members exhibit featuring paintings, graphics, sculptures and photography; the National Juried Show; and the Experimental Group Show.

The museum’s current hours are Thursdays through Sundays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 5 to 8 p.m.

Visitors need to wear masks, and there is a rigorous schedule for daily cleaning. For those not comfortable attending shows in person, all major exhibits will also be available for online viewing and sales through the website at   

Explore the Peabody Essex Museum

The Peabody Essex Museum in Salem now features a range of digital content at its website that allows visitors to explore its collection remotely.

Podcasts discuss recent exhibits and museum history, while stories reflect on the value and impact of art. There are also suggestions for crafts and activities for the whole family.

Clicking on the “Explore Art” button at allows viewers to examine highlights from several periods and categories in the museum’s international collection, while postings of art and objects at respond to each day at hand.

The museum has reopened to the public and is open Thursdays through Sundays. Tickets must be purchased in advance at or 978-542-1511.

Music Man keeps entertaining children

Wenham musician Brian Doser performs children’s music live on Facebook every weekday at 10 a.m.

Doser, better known as The Music Man, normally performs a drop-in music program for children three days a week at The Community House in Hamilton.

He is often joined by his daughter Hannah, who sings and plays various instruments, for the 45-minute segments.

Doser has also been offering shows geared toward adults on weekends, featuring popular cover songs and some original tunes.

To check out his shows, visit     

If you have an event to add to this roundup, please email the details to Ann Reily, assistant managing editor of features, at