Welcome to the 15th anniversary issue of Artscope Magazine.
Pulling together a group of strangers from around New England and turning them into a working arts community is not an easy goal, but it’s one that publisher Kaveh Mojtabai set out to do back in 2006. We are here, 91 issues later, thousands of formed friendships and professional partnerships later, hopefully about to navigate our way out of the pandemic of our lifetime that upended not only plans for the near future, but many of our lives.
These are challenging times, indeed; at a recent Arts Administration Association New England “Sip and Chat,” Catherine Peterson, executive director of ArtsBoston, said she feared that half of its current member organizations wouldn’t make it to the other side of the pandemic. The latest estimate on museums nationwide suggests that up to a third may not reopen their doors. Throughout the past year, we’ve done whatever we can to help direct our readers to as many activities and virtual performances as possible with the hope that our visual and performing arts organizations keep and add to their membershipbase. We’re also hoping that as the region’s tourist offices relaunch their promotional drives to bring visitors back to their areas, that they’ll include Artscope in their outreach as we know that when it comes to the arts, our readership enjoys loading up a vehicle of fellow artists and heading out on an art wanderlust journey that not only includes museums and galleries, but musical and theatrical performances, cozy coffee shops, warm restaurants and shopping. Lots of it.
We’ve relearned the value of family — and we’ve always felt the Artscope family has included anyone who we’ve ever crossed paths with at a gallery, a museum, a conference or shared an email, Instagram, Twitter or Facebook message or spirited phone call between kindred souls. We’ve learned how much we miss locking eyes with a familiar face across a room or getting a phone call out of the blue to synch up how we can work together in the months and years ahead. We can’t tell you how much we appreciate all the artists and directors that have written and called us and thanked us for keeping the community together during this time.
We’ve made it a priority to make sure that we don’t send our readers out to a venue where hours are tentative, if at all, due to COVID-19 restrictions, while doing what we can to make sure you’re aware of well-constructed virtual exhibitions intended to keep their artists’ careers moving forward and their doors open. We’ve participated in as many Zoom artist talks and virtual openings as possible to stay abreast of how our galleries and museums are adjusting, step by step, in creating new ways of presenting their work, some of which will continue even after we return to “normal,” as it’s been proven that a well-prepared presentation can lead to new viewers — and buyers — not only in the immediate area, but across the country and worldwide.
Probably the most challenging aspect of the past 12 months, as managing editor, was dealing with the personal frustration of knowing that our need to cut back in pages till “normal” returns meant that the majority of our writers couldn’t contribute to each issue — and that, especially those without other outlets for their words, their craft tends to get a bit rusty.
In preparing for this issue, I reviewed many of our past 90 issues and was stunned to find out how many dedicated people have written for Artscope and how many great artists and performers have been covered in our pages. I asked seven of those writers who’ve been with us the longest, James Foritano — who along with Franklin W. Liu are the only ones who’ve been on our masthead for the entire ride — Linda Chestney, Elizabeth Michelman, Marguerite Serkin, Suzanne Volmer and Kristin Nord to revisit artists they’ve written about in the past and find out what they’ve been working on recently. Meredith Cutler, having been an artist at the original Fountain Street building in Framingham herself, was the perfect choice to preview Fountain Street’s 10th anniversary show at 460 Harrison Ave. in Boston’s SoWa District.
Flavia Cigliano previews Moscow Institute of Arts and Graphics graduate Alexander Gassel’s “Painted Poetry: Alexander Gassel, A Retrospective” exhibition at the Museum of Russian Icons, a surprising show in which his easily identified Chagall, Kandinsky and Malevich influences are used, in some of his works, to reflect American consumerism back in our faces.
In a year where faces have been hidden, Nancy Nesvet takes a look at the story behind the creation of the United States’ first presidential portrait of George Washington by Gilbert Stuart, and how the version that hangs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston landed there.
In this issue, Hannah Carrigan — who reviews UMass Amherst’s Hampden Gallery’s “CURRENT|UNDERCURRENT” online exhibition — and Isabel Barbi, our current copy editor, took on the multi-leveled story of Lexington Arts and Crafts (LexArt) in Lexington, Massachusetts, documenting recent directional changes and its high-quality classes and programs — and its upcoming “The Chemistry of FiberLab” and “State of Clay” exhibitions, bring fresh enthusiasm to the art world.
Two people who have kept Artscope timely over the past year are Kristin Wissler, our email Blast! coordinator who without fail ensures that our twice-monthly mini-magazines arrive in your mailboxes with news of current openings and exhibitions; and J.M. Belmont, our publishing assistant, who is responsible for compiling our paid events listings in the back of each issue as well as pulling us all back into the production circle. In a virtual age, that’s not easy to do.
This, and every issue of Artscope, wouldn’t be possible without the dedication of Senior Media Developer Vanessa Boucher, who has the responsibility for taking the thousands of words and images that we send her way every two months and turning it into the great looking magazine you hold today, and has done so for nine years.
And to you, our loyal readers, and the New England and worldwide arts community, much appreciation for 15 years of support and encouragement. We’re all looking forward to seeing you in person again, soon.