This brisk, fall weekend, November 2 and 3, from noon-6 p.m. is a perfect time to step into a piece of history and art at the Waltham Mills. Located at 144 and 289 Moody Street in Waltham, Massachusetts, the brick buildings used to house textile mills in the Industrial Revolution of the 19th century, but today houses the studios of over 85 artists in a community environment with a variety of art on each floor. Visitors can make their way across the wooden floorboards, observing the colorful paintings, drawings and sculptural pieces on the walls with sunlight flooding into the studios through the wall-sized windows. Speak to artists first-hand about their processes, inspirations and lives as creators.
Take the old-style open elevator up to the third floor of 144 Moody Street, building 4, to enter Roberta Nigro Hall’s space in studio 3, where the white walls are filled with large canvases stroked with vibrant blues, purples and yellows. The series titled “Snap Judgement” features a variety of different abstract shapes all layered on top of one another. Roberta herself describes the series as “based on the NPR show called ‘Snap Judgement’” and it uses “bold colors” to convey some of the same sensations of dramatic storytelling to tell its own story in a way that can be interpreted differently by each viewer. The paintings can elicit a sense of hurried decision as the title implies through the sudden pops of sharp yellow amongst cooler tones. Roberta’s pieces can represent a view into the brain during a quick decision with each curved shape acting as part of a larger whole.
Next door in studio 2, Karen Walter uses ink and colored pencil on Japanese paper in her folded drawing series, where blues and blacks meld together in an almost watercolor-like effect. As a paper conservationist at Harvard University, interested in tidelines, she experiments with her medium to create interactions between ink bleeding out on the page and the various tones. She explained that her artistic practice from project to project as slow, almost like the ocean tides rolling in and out, but always enjoys the process. In her current folded paper works, Walter loves “the places where wet and dry meet” from the ink and colored pencil. She is not afraid to refold paper to display it as she envisions it and appreciates the unique patterns created on each side of the page, as well as the fold lines. Walter is an activist, bringing the ocean tides into view while sea levels rise outdoors.
On the second floor in studio 7, artist Rosemary Broton Boyle displays paintings on large fabric sheets that resemble rugs and draw upon the mill’s history with the use of textiles. An untitled fabric sheet brushed with green leaves and cloud-like pink flowers on top of purple and gray strokes, also layered on top of a blue sky tinted with gray portrays a natural, delicate scene. Rosemary informed me that the piece was painted in 1991 after the first day of the Iraq War and provides her response to the violence and upheaval. The flowers can thus symbolize a sense of hope and innocence that prevails amongst the gray smog of the background, not yet wilting. Her collection of textural paintings and jewelry work is also on display for view.
(Waltham Open Studios takes place this Saturday and Sunday, November 2 and 3, from noon-6 p.m. at 144 and 289 Moody Street, Waltham, Massachusetts. For more information, visit walthammillsopenstudios.com).