Is creativity is contagious? A Manhattan Arts Center exhibit explores how people who share a creative space motivate and inspire each other.

“Partners in Art” pulls together the work of 11 artistic couples from the area. Some work in the same medium, while others work in different media, but all discuss how their partners feed their creative energy.

“If my wife is engaged in a creative activity, you tend to find, ‘I want a bit of that,’” said Clive Fullagar, who helped curate the exhibit. “It inspires me to get in the studio and forget about the normal chores and lose myself in a creative activity.”

The concept came about from Fullagar, who shares a studio with his wife, Dorothy Farrand. Fullagar is a painter, and Farrand makes jewelry and other handcrafts.

Each couple provided a piece of their work as well as audio clips about sharing a creative space. Fullagar said he appreciates Farrand’s advice and having someone to bounce ideas off when he’s working through a project.

“It’s kind of reassuring to get a source of readily available feedback,” Fullagar said.

Farrand said in her recording that her husband asking for her opinion is a compliment and feels validating. She said she learns from his suggestions also.

“Clive’s responses often nudge me in a new direction or provide affirmation,” Farrand said.

In their audio clip, John Louder and Annie Helmericks-Louder said they feed off each other’s energy and ideas and also take time to sit together and discuss each other’s work. They said as artists there is a degree of competition but they also always support each other.

“We’re running the same race holding hands but definitely competing,” John said. “Competing in a supportive way. We look at each other’s work, we give each other encouragement.”

Sheldon Ganstrom said in his audio clip that he and his wife, Linda Ganstrom, have shared a studio for their entire marriage, 44 years. He said he loves watching her create, and they’ve always supported each other. He said it was impossible to imagine being with someone who is not an artist.

“Only an artist could understand my obsession with creating,” he said.

Artists who work in the same medium can share technical expertise and advice, but that is not necessary to connect over art. David Rintoul, a photographer, and Elizabeth Dodd, a poet, work in very different areas, but Fullagar described their work as “symbiotic.” Dodd writes poems inspired by Rintoul’s photographs.

“I’ve learned so much about the world and how to see it from listening to Dave talk about his process,” Dodd said in her recording.

Rintoul said in his recording that despite the saying, pictures are not worth a thousand words, and words and pictures working together magnify and enhance each other.

“I’ve come to understand that words and pictures complement each other and neither one can fully describe the world,” Rintoul said.

Fullagar said a creative partnership often needs many of the same elements as a personal relationship.

“Both require the same sort of trust, understanding, patience, listening, encouragement and feeling a strong emotional bond,” he said.


‘Partners in Art’ is on display at Manhattan Arts Center until Oct. 29. Local and area couples featured are listed below.

Heather Bayless and Dukno Yoon

Sylvia Beeman and Dick Beeman

Geraldine Craig and Nelson Smith

Molly Bernstein and Kevin Bernstein

Annie Helmericks-Louder and John Louder

Barbara Waterman-Peters and Larry Peters

David Rintoul and Elizabeth Dodd

Ann Trusty and John Hulsey

Mary Kay and Frank Shaw

Dorothy Farrand and Clive Fullagar

Linda Ganstrom and Sheldon Ganstrom

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