NASHUA — In the heart of Nashua's Millyard stands an ordinary brick structure that houses artists who are living their passion and making the local arts community proud.
The Picker Building at 99 Factory St. Ext. is a hidden gem in downtown Nashua. Without searching for the four-story structure behind Clocktower Place, it might be easily overlooked.
After stepping inside the historic building, however, one might not want to leave the creative and welcoming space that has become home to about 30 different artists.
"This building has turned into the hub for Nashua's art center," said Sid Ceaser, who has operated his photography studio from the Picker Building for nearly a decade. "When you think of the arts in the city, this is the core creative space that bonds all of us artists together."
But exposure has been difficult, admits Ceaser, who acknowledges the hidden building is often not well known beyond Nashua.
"People are often surprised to learn we are here. It would be nice to get more of a visual identity," Ceaser said this week while promoting the Picker Building's open house planned for Saturday.
Gail Moriarty, who also has a studio in the millyard building where she creates unique, hand-crafted jewelry, says the Nashua community has been incredibly supportive of the local art scene.
Still, she is hopeful that communities outside of Nashua will begin to recognize the strong artistic talents tucked away in a downtown corner of the city.
"Everything we sell makes us proud and should make Nashua proud as well. Supporting the local arts fuels the economy," said Moriarty, who is hopeful that a lot of people will be interested in touring the building this weekend, visiting with area artists and perhaps purchasing a holiday gift that has been handmade locally.
Nashua artists are stationed throughout the large building, creating and selling a vast array of products, including paintings, cards, jewelry, shirts, quilts, furniture and more.
Perhaps the most colorful studio in the building is occupied by Renaissance Glassworks, Inc., which specializes in fine handcrafted stained glass. The Picker Building has become a second home for owners Mark and Kathleen Frank.
"We really like the building and the vibe here," said Kathleen Frank, who said Renaissance Glassworks moved from Main Street to the Picker Building about eight years ago.
With a view of the Nashua River and natural sunlight from its many windows, the building is ideal for artists, according to those who work there daily.
"When people do stumble upon us, sales are often great. But for the most part, people don't know we are here," said Karen Bruson, a local artist who is trying to perfect a painting of Nashua's downtown landscape.
Currently, most of the space at the Picker Building has been leased, and when a new studio does become available, it is often quickly occupied, according to Moriarty.
"We want to pass on our art to others, and that is what motivates us," said Moriarty, adding each local artist has their own niche for creativity and vision — something they all hope to share with others this weekend.
The Picker Building open house will run from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday. Search for the brick building with the white "99" on the exterior wall. The address is 99 Factory St. Ext., however some GPS devices will only recognize 99 Pine St. Ext.
Some of the other artists housed at the Picker Building include Helene LeVasseur Fine Art Studio, Mint Printworks, Albert Wilkinson Photography, Darold's Woodshop, Bonnie K. Guercio Mixed Media Collage, artist Lori Woodward, the All American Quilt Company and more.