If you missed South End Open Studios, First Fridays are the next best thing; visiting with Ann Strassman & John Gonnella
by Shem Tane
(Artscope is proud of its intern program which has an end goal of helping area college students polish their writing, reporting and research skills to help develop the next generation of art reviewers and critics. We also think this provides a valuable insight to artists and galleries to see what kind of first impressions they give those students who’ve invested their lives to find their place amongst their profession.)
Last month, I traveled down to Boston’s SoWa neighborhood to take in the South End Open Studios. I was expecting the gallery to be set up in one room with each artist standing by their work. Instead the gallery was split up among different rooms and floors. Traveling down the semi-florescent floors reminded me of walking through a dormitory, peering through each open door to see what was happening.
Each individual studio was either set up like a mini gallery or a workshop with a degree of tools, paints and other supplies. Each studio represented what the artist expressed about themselves and their work. The first studio that really caught my attention was a series of portraits of unnamed commuters done on cardboard. The cardboard expressed the urban theme and added a different texture to the paintings. The artist, Ann Strassman (who’s located at 450 Harrison Ave. in Studio 219) explained that catching people in the middle of their day reflects the way a city breathes and differs from other cities.
I noticed that the open studios brought an array of people and a lot of times people would walk by a studio, maybe glance around for a bit and leave without even talking to the artist. It is sometimes a rare moment to be able to talk and discuss a certain piece with the creator. In music those chances are pretty slim depending on whom you are seeing. The connection you can make by simply talking with the artist and having an in depth conversation is limitless.
The next studio that grabbed me was the works of John Gonnella (who’s located at 450 Harrison Ave. in Studio 300B). His inspiration was drawn from vintage ads from the 1930s and ‘40s, which he then added a fresh range of different colors and a galaxy of individual strokes. What I found interesting was that his studio space was split with his son and that his work was hanging slightly below his fathers. I took a step back to admire the old expression still rearing its head out into the world: like father, like son.
(Many of the artists of the SoWa Artists’ Guild open their studios each month as part of First Friday festivities taking place from 5-9 p.m. on Harrison Ave., Boston. For more information, visit http://www.sowaboston.com)