Arts & Culture

• Check out our list of New Hampshire museums, galleries, performance venues & independent bookstores, sorted by region.

• You can also find art exhibits, book readings, live music and more on our Public Events Calendar.

The New Year is a time to look ahead, but this week we’re looking back. Today a selection of our favorite stories and interviews of 2016. First up, we revisit a conversation about the global disappearance industry that plots, facilitates and documents fake deaths - and the investigators who track them down. 

Then, we'll reminisce about some of the strangest school assemblies we endured growing up.

And  Roman Mars of 99% Invisible looks into the origins of those inflatable tube men you see outside of car washes.

Holiday Book Show: December 6, 2016

Dec 25, 2016
Christina Phillips; NHPR

Our popular holiday tradition takes place on December 6.  We look at the top books of 2016 and discuss best books for gift-giving...and receiving.  Let us know what books you've enjoyed this year by email, by tagging us in a tweet, or sending a message to our Facebook page.

This show originally aired on December 6, 2016. 

Prescott Farm

Good news for those of you who detest the early darkness—the Northern Hemisphere Winter Solstice will occur on Wednesday, December 21, at 5:44 a.m. EST. If you can’t make it to Stonehenge, there are plenty of places in New Hampshire to celebrate like a Druid.

U.S. Embassy Kyiv Ukraine via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/epy8go

The holidays are fast approaching, and for the procrastinators among us, the online retailer Amazon.com offers a ray hope. But what if the gift you've purchased isn't what it claims to be? Today, the supply and demand chain for counterfeit goods

Then, in the early days of cinema, soundtracks were played live.  A single pianist or orchestra accompanied those early silent films with sometimes written and sometimes improvised, music and sound effects. The Alloy Orchestra keeps that tradition alive by live scoring old silent films using state of the art electronics, and...a rack of junk. 

Irish author Emma Donoghue may be best known for Room,  her novel written in the voice of a young boy confined with his mother in a single room.  It was nominated for a Man Booker prize and made into an Oscar-winning film, for which she wrote the screenplay. Her most recent novel is The Wonder, about a "fasting girl" in 1850s Ireland.

Global Panorama via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/r2nw3q

Someone suffering from a major depressive episode may have trouble getting out of bed - sleep too much during the day, and then suffer from insomnia at night. Today, an experimental, and counter-intuitive treatment for depression.

Plus, the benefits of being bored. Whether we're sitting quietly for a cup of coffee, or taking a walk without a destination, one author argues that setting aside time to do nothing can make us more creative, and teach us more about who we really are - she even has some handy tips for how foster a bit of boredom.

Malmark Handbells

If you need a break from baking, wrapping and card-writing, you can immerse yourself in one of the many seasonal performances on offer this weekend.

Jean’s Playhouse in Lincoln is presenting The Best Christmas Pageant Ever, The Musical, on Saturday night at 7:30 p.m.  An adaptation of the children’s book by Barbara Robinson, this “bad kids crash local Christmas pageant and chaos ensues” is high energy and madcap.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Enna Grazier's kitchen is a lot like a normal home kitchen, except she's got a few things most people don't have at home: a commercial food production license, and countertop-sized tools that turn cocoa beans into carefully crafted chocolate bars. 

There you'll find, among other gadgets, machines that look like they belong in a chemist's lab. 

"This is my winnower," she says. "It’s a kind of MacGyvered contraption of a shop vac, a piece off of a Champion juicer, some PVC parts... and a bucket."

Frank Maurer via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/83biv

Social media networks have too few people to monitor and shut down the volume of Islamic State propaganda accounts. Today, a Dartmouth professor has created a tool to flag violent, extremist videos and recruitment tools and keep them off social media feeds...still, some companies fear accusations of censorship.

Then, in the early 1800s, America was new - a wide and blank slate for backwoods prophets, reformers and salvation seekers to create their own versions of paradise. Today, from Shakers to radicals to polygamists, a road trip through some of the nearly 200 utopian communities that emerged in the 19th century.

James Vaughan via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/c83XTb

What do McDonalds hamburgers and NPR underwriting have in common? Ray and Joan Kroc.  One, a business tycoon responsible for building a world-wide brand and the other a strong woman with a passion for progressive causes. Today we’re learning about the odd couple pairing of a billionaire-entrepreneur and peace-loving philanthropist.

Plus, a collection of stories follows characters down the slippery slope of technological dependency -  and how to slow it down.

Virginia Prescott

Tom Gauld -- a cartoonist, illustrator of comics and covers for the New Yorker and The Believer. His weekly cartoon about the arts for The Guardian newspaper is a wry, often deadpan favorite among writers. He is extremely prolific, author of more than a dozen books of comics, including You're Just Jealous of My Jetpack and most recently Mooncop.

Writers on a New England Stage: Mario Batali

Nov 30, 2016
David J. Murray, ClearEyePhoto.com

Today, NHPR and the music hall present Writers on a New England Stage with Mario Batali recorded live at the Music Hall in Portsmouth. Batali is a celebrity chef, entrepreneur, restaurateur, television star and passionate advocate for simple, regional food. He is author, or co-author, of 7 cookbooks on Italian food, wine and culture, one on Spanish specialties, and three of American recipes, including his most recent Big American Cookbook.

MWV Chamber of Commerce via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/DCd9Ju

Yellowstone may be the first national park, but it was New Hampshire's White Mountains that for decades prior captured the imagination of American tourists, scientists, and artists. Today, a portrait of Mount Washington's artistic history.

Plus, from Bob Dylan to Yoko Ono, audiences have long had a fascination with the off-beat or out of tune - so why do we love some bad singers and love to hate others?

Then, America's great repository of world knowledge faces an existential predicament. In a world where information is stored in servers and googled at will, can the Library of Congress really keep up?

11.27.16: Lots of Leftovers

Nov 25, 2016
Ginny via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/4Jo3Sb

Now that the long, stressful, divisive election season is behind us, maybe it's time to talk about something that unites us in pleasure: food. Now, a cultural history of one food that makes everything a little bit better: butter. 

Plus, the resurgence of rainbow sprinkles. Whether you call them jimmies, funfetti or unicorn food, those brightly colored sugary bits that top cupcakes, cookies & ice cream sundaes, are having a bit of a moment. We’ll talk to a food writer from the New York Times about the current funfetti explosion.

Todd Bookman, NHPR

The machinery inside Conner Bottling Works doesn’t sparkle like it used to. In fact, everything and everybody in here look like they could use a break.

“We are the last family-owned independent bottler in the state of New Hampshire,” says Dan Conner, the fifth generation to work here. “153 years, from start to today. Never shut down, never stopped.”

Launched in 1863, the first Conners only bottled beer, but in the 1890s, the company branched out into sodas. During prohibition, harder drinks were made out back, a friendly sheriff reportedly looking the other way.

Fake Plastic Alice via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/5L2wa8

Today, voices of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp used to divert attention from the final solution. We'll hear about how prisoners held under brutal conditions created art and music amid the horrors of the holocaust

Plus, what happens when a protest movement professing all-or-nothing absolutism splits in two? We'll find out how a splinter group of vegan activists toned down their goals and built a powerful machine for change.

"Birds of America," by John James Audubon / Wikipedia

Although it is only, technically, the middle of the month, Thanksgiving is quickly bearing down upon us.  If you have been too caught up in the news to make a grocery list or crack a cookbook, here are some ways to get your head in the game this weekend.

Sara Plourde / NHPR

A National Book Award winner, Pulitzer-Prize nominee, Guggenheim fellow, and winner of a MacArthur "genius" grant, Colson Whitehead's new book, The Underground Railroad, was one of the most anticipated works of fiction this year.

Virginia caught up with him backstage at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire before a reading with novelist Ben Winters hosted of Gibson’s Bookstore.

Todd Bookman/NHPR

This year marks the 400th anniversary of the death of Shakespeare. Theater groups around the world are honoring the Bard’s work with traditional and updated stagings of his plays.

That includes a new performance of "Macbeth" at Sanborn Regional High School in Kingston. There, students are re-imagining the centuries-old tragedy, setting the work in the one of today’s most pressing humanitarian disasters — Syria.

Peter Biello / NHPR

Do you tend to make the same dinners over and over again? It’s often easier just to rely on a recipe you know by heart, especially if you’ve worked a long day.

Portsmouth chef Evan Mallett wants you to consider disrupting that routine. The three-time James Beard Foundation semi-finalist for "Best Chef" in the northeast offers some suggestions in his new cookbook, named after restaurant, Black Trumpet, which he runs with his wife Denise.

Among those suggestions: meals including ostrich or goat meat, spice-roasted strawberries, Asian seaweed, and other unusual ingredients.

In Conversation With Colson Whitehead & Ben Winters

Nov 4, 2016
Courtesy Sara Plourde, NHPR

Colson Whitehead and Ben Winters joined Virginia in front of a live audience for the "In the Spotlight" series at the Capital Center for the Arts in Concord, New Hampshire, presented in partnership with Gibson's Bookstore. Today, we're listening to that conversation with two writers who made the imaginative leap from what we already know happened, to what could have happened.

UNH Art Department

Climate change is by and large an issue discussed by scientists, but a current show at 3S Artspace in Portsmouth is devoted to the topic. 

“Rise: Climate Change in Our World” is an exhibition featuring work by current students, alumni, technical staff and faculty from UNH.  The UNH art department collaborated with NextGen Climate NH, an environmental advocacy organization and 3S Artspace. 

David J. Murray, cleareyephoto.com

It’s our 30th episode, this time with the phenomenally successful Jodi Picoult.

Dave Herholz via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/311W1T

Flagrantly unsubstantiated "facts", misrepresented news, and deliberately false memes whooped up by the partisan fringes have been fast and furious this election... And thanks to Facebook's algorithm, fake news stories continue to trend. Today, if you yell at the Facebook echo chamber to stop, does it only get louder?

Then, in a contentious election season full of bombshells, boasts, and social media driving the outrage, how do newsrooms determine what deserves attention what doesn’t?

Ingvild Hunsrød via Flickr CC / https://flic.kr/p/pQnNv3

As one of the most densely populated placed on earth, Hong Kong has a very competitive retail market. But deals can be had, if... You're willing to put up with a few ghosts. Today, the haunted house hustle.

Also today, it's been almost 70 years since Shirley Jackson's chilling classic "The Lottery" shocked readers. We'll talk with Jackson's grandson about his graphic adaptation of the story, and with Jackson's biographer about the author's many faces... Comically besieged housewife, channeler of nightmares, witch?

BBC Arts, November 6, 2015

Although you would be hard-pressed to find a palm tree or a kalua pig roast in New Hampshire, there are a plethora of ukulele opportunities in the Granite State.  The uke is a four-string member of the lute family, and originated in Hawaii in the 19th century, an adaptation of the Portuguese machete.  According to Hawaiian lore, the name means "the gift that came here”, from the Hawaiian words uku (gift or reward) and lele (to come).

Holly McCabe

For a small state, New Hampshire has a plethora of private schools, each with a rich academic and cultural heritage.  Although the schools are private, many have art galleries that are open to the public.  Student and faculty art shows are on regular offer, but there is also compelling and unique work from both national and international artists.

Androscoggin Valley Chamber of Commerce

All around New Hampshire the leaves are glowing red, yellow and orange, but in Berlin on Saturday, October 15th, the Androscoggin River will be aflame.  Literally.

The annual RiverFire event, based at Heritage Park on Main Street, will bring a full day of activities to “the city that trees built.” 

cowhampshireblog.com

A long weekend calls for a road trip, and rumor has it the foliage in the western part of the state is glowing. 

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