By Sabrina Garvin
SOMERVILLE, MASS. — At this year’s Brickbottom Open Studios, held on November 18-19, there was so much artwork it was dripping from the staircases. As one of the largest, oldest and most well-attended open studios events, there was something for just about anyone’s artistic tastes, from elegant photographs, jewelry, oil paintings and pottery to remarkable found art, large installations, kinetic sculptures and mosaics.
The Brickbottom Artist Association’s membership covers an incredible range of art forms and styles. Mix in live music and great snacks with crowds of excited people and artists, and that formula is the recipe for one awesome weekend-long art party. With over 70 artists’ studios in three repurposed A&P Grocery factory buildings, and its main gallery open to the public, there was plenty to do and look at.
The Brickbottom Gallery itself held several incredible works from different artists participating in the Open Studios event, including Lois Bennett’s “Cleverly Devised Myths.” This fractal flame piece created using digital print on canvas uses bright colors and flowing lines to blend ideas of water and light to pull in the viewer with a dizzying effect. Upstairs in her studio, she had hundreds of pieces in the same media scattered on her table and decorating her walls.
For her “All Souls Succumb,” mixed media on canvas painting, Pauline Lim used paint and mosaic to create the image of an elaborate mosaic church run by mice dressed in garbs of intricate gold filigree with the title of the piece floating through the painted sky. Her studio walls were covered in similar mixed media paintings. Outside in the hall, Lim’s “We Need to Talk,” a repurposed old phone booth, included a black mosaic phone and the eyes of a woman staring out at passerby.
Nearby, Joanna Schiff Garren’s “Smoke,” a work in acrylic and graffiti, vibrated with its bright wavy stripes behind a smoky spiral; it was positioned next to Wally Gilbert’s similarly vibrant “Old Truck – Yellow,” digital image on aluminum, which stood out with its blocks of bright colors. Gilbert’s studio itself was certainly the brightest of them all with his bright lighting reflecting off the eye-popping colors of his geometrically patterned pieces.
Across a gorgeous courtyard full of late fall colors, the bakery building held even more wonders, including the lovely ceramics by MYRTH Ceramics. Their studio held shelves of simple and elegant pottery with light airy and earthen glazes. Robert Goss’s studio provided a wonderful contrast to his neighbors with his artwork combining sculpture, found art and mixed media covering a wide range of just about everything from mobiles to old pictures, wood, old machinery, and most strikingly, hundreds of computer boards.
Similarly, Gina Kamentsky’s studio of wonders held kinetic sculptures. She allowed, if not insisted, that her viewers touch and interact with her artwork. She also animates on old film reels to create interesting and unusual pieces of animation. “A Pitch Drop Experiment” resided nearby in the front stairwell, where a bag of black ooze clipped to the banister drips into a transparent plastic container one story lower in a waterfall of black. Farther down sat several pieces of art made from dripping paint onto paper.
Thank you to all the artists who opened their studios for us to enjoy this past weekend. While this Brickbottom Open Studios may be over, please plan on visiting these artists at next year’s Open Studios (scheduled for November 18 and 19, 2018) and Somerville Open Studios on May 5 and 6, 2018.
The Brickbottom Gallery’s next exhibit “Big Ink,” a sample of woodcut project works by BIG INK director Lyell Castonguay and prints by artists from across the country, opens December 7 and will run through January 13, 2018; the show’s opening reception takes place on Sunday, December 10 from 2-4 p.m. Regular hours during exhibitions at the Brickbottom Gallery, 1 Fitchburg St., Somerville, Mass., are Thursday through Saturday from noon-5 p.m. For more information visit brickbottom.org.