|South End Open Studios|
South End Open Studios takes place on September 19th and 20th, from 11 am to 6 pm each day. This year over 250 artists will open their doors to the public and showcase works in oils, watercolors, photography, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media, fiber arts, ceramics, wood, glass, and metal.
Sean Horrigan: How long have you been part of the BCA Artist Studios? What are some of the advantages of being part of this creative community?
David Brown: I have been a member of the BCA Artist Studios for three years. For many years I lived in artist communities. Beginning in 1979, I moved to the Fort Point Channel area of the city when it was really a collection of empty warehouses. I saw that area grow into an artist neighborhood from '79 -'94. As a founding member of the 249 A Street Cooperative I realized the many benefits of living and working in a creative community. Sharing ideas and resources with artists as your neighbors makes it much easier to pool information, and to refresh oneself with the casual conversation one could have in between those many hours working in one's studio.
When I left in 1994, I felt it was time to work without the energy of artists nearby. Now, more than a decade later, I gradually moved back into artist studio buildings first in a studio organized by the Lynn Arts Inc, and then three years ago moving to my 3rd floor studio at the BCA, which is wonderfully within walking distance of my home. Working in a creative community I can enjoy again, knowing those deeply committed to the arts of all types are just outside my door. It makes reaching out when I want to a little easier.
Miriam Shenitzer: I have been a member since 1997. There many advantages to being part of this community--creative stimulus, critique, input. Since the making of visual art is mainly a solitary pursuit, social contact with others in the field is really important. Also, there are the opportunities provided by the BCA itself--shows, connections, mentoring, and just general support.
SH: Will you be exhibiting a particular series of work during Open Studios weekend?
DB: Yes. I will be exhibiting my new series of orange oil paintings. These canvases display intertwining, tangled, sprays of template shapes coalescing into clusters that remind me of early organic life seen in fossil remains. They are still another direction I am in taking with decorative templates to explore evolution and genetics as a catalyst for making paintings and drawings.
MS: Yes-two ongoing projects: "big pigs"-large drawings, and "minimal pairs", a series that explores in a playful fashion our obsession with the idea that we can produce knowledge through taxonomies, encyclopedic listings and classifications.
SH: Have you done many Open Studios? Do you find the experience rewarding?
DB: I was in, what I believe was, the first Open Studios in Boston in 1979. It took place in the Fort Point Channel neighborhood and drew hundreds of visitors. Open Studios is rewarding, especially when you realize everyone (sometimes as many as 500 or more) who walks through your studio made the journey because they had enough interest in the arts to walk up countless stairs to get there and really wanted to see art, and how artists work. Visitors really are interested to see what you have done. When else can most of us get hundreds of people to look at our work in just a few hours? Over the years I have met many curators, been invited to exhibit, and landed my first gallery representation in Boston all because of Open Studios.
MS: This will be my 12th Open Studios. I really enjoy the opportunity to meet and interact with people. I enjoy the informal aspect of Open Studios versus a gallery. Many people find galleries intimidating, but are really happy to meet a "live artist" and talk about their work with them. And, there is the added bonus of seeing people come back year after year--people who tell you that they got a piece of yours years ago, or just last year, and wanted to see what you're doing now.
SH: Where do you find creative inspiration as an artist?
DB: I don't have the faintest idea and I think if I really knew it might make me stop working. Seriously though, so much goes into inspiration and so much has been written about how the human brain needs to sort out who we are in relation to the world around us that I feel the spark of inspiration every time I see two seemingly unrelated concepts, objects, or processes. I certainly get inspired by realizing order in the world around us.
MS: I wish I knew the answer to that!
SH: Is the South End growing as an artist community or has gentrification changed the landscape?
DB: I have heard the apprehensions of the art community versus gentrification. One sees this in many legendary arts communities like Provincetown and certainly in the South End. I simply don't agree with the paradigm. I believe the South End is continuing to grow and thrive as an arts community in part because of gentrification.
MS: Gentrification has indeed changed the landscape, and continues to do so. When I started teaching in the South End 20 years ago, it was regarded as a very scary place. That's no longer the case, which is nice, but it also means that many of the working class residents have had to leave to find affordable housing. Certainly many artists have had to go out of the city to find affordable space. But there is also a commitment to keeping artists in the neighborhood through subsidies for studios and live/work spaces. I hope that there will be more of these.