SoWa Artists Guild
A November nail clipping moon floats over the brick lined side street that houses the non-profit, SoWa Artists Guild at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston. The building once held a variety of businesses, but now houses fine artists and galleries exclusively. Inside is warm and welcoming, and lively with imagination and enthusiasm. This is where artists gather to create, learn from and share their work. Four stories tall, each floor has almost a dormitory atmosphere with twinkling fairy lights lining doorways and personalized name placards on each door. Squeezed between wall and studio is a deep bellied sink splattered in paints, grey, blue and yellow an industrial Jackson Pollack in itself. Today is First Friday, the first Friday of the month where artists of SoWa open their studios to the public from 5-9 p.m. In studio 416, I enter the space of Iranian American photographer Nasser K, who’s displaying his work with a “Then and Now” exhibition theme. I’m drawn in by the melancholy and atmospheric graveyard photographs that line the right wall. Among the photos is one displaying two small crooked graves. Time has sunken the stones into the soft grass, angling them towards each other. The tombstones simply read, “mother” and “father.” The simplicity and vulnerability of the image is haunting and reflective. The wall opposite portrays an all-together different mood. Street photography of children and carnival rides display a colorful and vibrant life. Nasser K is a self-taught photographer who has been documenting moments for over eight years. He enjoys capturing life both “after they pass away and before.” He often travels to Brooklyn for photography excursions because it allows him to see things that a local might miss. It is exactly these small moments of life that Nasser K’s studio exudes.
The golden light of the South End skyline illuminates from the studio of painter Terry Levin in 415A. A portrait of the artist’s daughter is on display on a wooden easel. Its rich brown tones and fine detail mirror the November sunset that drenches the studio walls. A warm rose blush gives warmth and life to the portrait. In the corner of the room, a small, modest table is covered in every paint color imaginable. With paint tubes neatly aligned in a cheerful color spectrum, creativity seems to hum from the space. This is what SoWa exudes the ability to see art in progress and to feel the excitement of watching someone create.
A large white walled room down the hall draws the eye, its walls holding wire sculptures of faces, bodies, animals and even windsurfers. There’s a humorous and light feeling among the pieces and characters represented in the colorful space of sculptor Brian Murphy in suite 417. A wooden block toy painted yellow with a letter F sits at the base of one wire sculpture that elegantly spells out “floss” with an exuberant swirl of wire underneath the word for effect. A white plank of wood with portraits made of wire hangs on another wall with an imagination of the Grant Wood’s classic painting “American Gothic”. Underneath in small cursive wire reads “Our American Gothic Gay Neighbors.” Perfectly angled light illuminates the wire to create a shadow of itself, giving the sculptures the brilliant effect of movement. SoWa allows one to enter a space of creativity and wonder. Being able to not only see works of various artists but also seeing the space in which it is created, is a truly wonderful experience. Paired with the established studios on Thayer Street, a night of culture and art awaits you.