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Katie McQuaid's Scene in Manchester: New gallery looks to make contemporary art more accessible

October 06. 2017 10:27PM
Karina Kelley, left, and Bill Stelling, center, co-owners of Kelley Stelling Contemporary, talk to Adele Boufford Baker during the Open Doors Trolley Night in Manchester on Thursday. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

THERE IS A new art gallery on Hanover Street.

No, you are not re-reading last week’s Scene in Manchester column, where I wrote about the new Hanover Street art gallery space called Jupiter Hall. There is, in fact, a second new gallery opening on the street, and this one is called Kelley Stelling Contemporary.

Named for founders Karina Kelley and Bill Stelling, the gallery is located on the third block east of Elm Street in former salon space near The Flats apartments and Restoration Café.

“The space was so perfect for what we wanted, so we jumped in earlier than we expected,” said Stelling.

Stelling and Kelley developed a friendship through mutual friends and their volunteer work for the Currier Museum of Art. They always kicked around the idea of opening a gallery that was accessible and inviting to the people of Manchester. Let’s face it. We’re not a city with a lot of experience in the contemporary art gallery scene.

Both Stelling and Kelley said many New Englanders think of an art gallery as images of “landscapes and covered bridges.”

“It might be a little edgier than what they’re used to seeing,” said Stelling, who co-owned the successful Fun Gallery in New York City in the 1980s, bringing artists like Jean-Michel Basquiat to prominence.

Kelley Stelling Contemporary’s inaugural show “Pairings” opens Thursday, Oct. 19 with a free, public reception from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. It features the work of three artists who have each chosen a second artist to pair their work with.

“These pairings explore the shared experiences of the art makers while exploring their unique way of conceptualizing it,” reads the exhibit description. You can read about the artists at

Kelley and Stelling, both avid art collectors, understand that buying art can be intimidating. But this gallery aims to make it more accessible, with vetted artists and pieces in a price range more palatable for first-time collectors.

“I’m excited to just kind of share our eye with other people,” said Kelley.

In the past, I would have snickered a “good luck” at the prospect of two galleries opening on Hanover Street within weeks of each other. But as I see our city’s most recent renaissance, I realize that everything is falling into place.

Stelling, a fellow “shameless Manchester booster,” said Manchester has the right restaurants for the growing young tech crowd (including the nearby Cajun restaurant Madears) and now we need to add the right experiences.

“The timing right now feels really right for opening a creative venue in New Hampshire,” said Stelling.

I couldn’t agree more, and hope those interested in art, or interested in learning more about art, will check them out. Kelley Stelling Contemporary will feature new artists every month. Regular hours will soon be posted on

Food trucks — take two

June’s Food Trucks for CASA event at McIntyre Ski Area was so popular that some food trucks ran out of food. Organizers of the upcoming N.H. Octoberfest at the ski area said they’ll be better prepared for this food truck and beer event.

From Friday, Oct. 20 through Sunday, Oct. 22, ticket holders can enjoy food from 15 trucks offering German food, Puerto Rican delicacies, fair food, Mediterranean food, and more. There will also be craft beers and bands.

Entry to the festival is $5 per person. A portion of the proceeds from the event will support Special Olympics of New Hampshire.

For more information and tickets visit

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