January 19. 2017 12:22AM

Watercolors warm winter at Manchester City Hall

By PAUL FEELY
New Hampshire Union Leader


Artist Yong Chen of Nashua talks about his work at a reception held by the Manchester Arts Commission at City Hall Plaza in Manchester on Wednesday. Chen has 30 original watercolor pieces on display within City Hall throughout January as part of the Art on the Wall @ City Hall exhibit. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)

Alex and Lisa Saidel of Manchester look at the family-themed paintings by artist Yong Chen on Wednesday on display at City Hall. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)


Sydney Richardson of Bedford plays the viola with her family and Manchester Music Mill for an artist reception for Yong Chen of Nashua during the “Art on the Wall @ City Hall” exhibit held by the Manchester Arts Commission at City Hall Plaza on Wednesday. Chen has 30 original watercolor pieces on display within City Hall throughout January as part of MAC’s “Art on the Wall @ City Hall” gallery. (THOMAS ROY/UNION LEADER)


MANCHESTER — Frank Rollins stood in City Hall, in a heavy winter coat and boots, looking at a painting. Staring at the piece — depicting a small group of people sailing on a sunny day — brought a smile to his face.

“It’s cheering me up,” said Rollins, of Manchester. “It makes me think of summer.”

The piece is one of 30 original watercolor pieces by artist Yong Chen on display at City Hall on Elm Street, as part of “Art on the Wall @ City Hall. A reception was held Wednesday night at City Hall, welcoming Chen and his works to the Queen City.

“I am honored to be part of this,” said Chen. “I am honored and humbled by this.”

Chen began drawing and painting at the age of four. He studied graphic design and illustration in Boston, earning his Master of Fine Arts degree from the University of Hartford in Connecticut. Chen is also an accomplished illustrator, and has illustrated and authored many children’s books and children’s magazines.

Besides working as a professional artist, Chen is also employed as an art professor teaching drawing, watercolor, painting and illustration in several four- and two-year colleges in New England. He is employed as a professor of art at Bunker Hill Community College in Boston.

Chen said the series of watercolor paintings on display in Manchester are intended to encourage parents to bring their children back to nature. He said he was inspired to start the series watching his daughter play on Boston Common.

“She is the reason I started this,” said Chen. “I brought her to the common to play, and saw she was extremely happy. Maybe the first time I realized how happy she could be in the fresh air, with other kids playing. Something kind of hit me that she was not this happy when she is on the computer.”

Chen said he hopes the pieces inspire parents.

“I looked at the parents who brought their kids to play in the sun,” said Chen. “They took the time to be with the kids, not giving them an iPad and phone to go play. The series is about making time for your kids and getting them outside.”

Mayor Ted Gatsas said the display has been well received by people visiting City Hall.

“I can tell you I come into the building on a daily basis, and it’s interesting to see how many folks are stopping to look at every picture,” said Gatsas. “They look at them individually and then follow them down the hall. I think it’s interesting how almost every picture involves youth.”

Mariana Rosas-Beer, a member of the Manchester Arts Commission, said the Art on the Wall program is a great opportunity for local artists to display their works.

“I think it’s great if people have to come to City Hall to do paperwork, it’s great to have a little distraction,” said Rosas-Beer. “It provides a really nice distraction. Mr. Chen’s work is very uplifting, very colorful, especially at this time of year.”

Chen’s work will remain on display until the end of January.

pfeely@unionleader.com