Saturday, January 03, 2015

Imperial Jewelry: A new store that displays the art and craft of local artists.

The artists of the Imperial Jewelry with Doug Holder (Center)

Imperial Jewelry: A new store that displays the art and craft of local artists.

By Doug Holder

 Medford Street, between Union Square and Ball Square, is sort of a forgotten neck of the woods in our city. As the gentrification of our burg progresses and speeds to the inevitable displacement that always happens at times like these, the city is taking some action. They are providing help to fledgling businesses so they can survive in a rapidly changing Somerville—a lofty goal to be sure. Adriana Fernandes, a Community Engagement Specialist for the city of Somerville, is a face of the city—who is helping Imperial Jewelry at 499 Medford St. have a fighting chance in the “new” Somerville. Fernandes is helping the new owner Cleuder Morias, negotiate the shoals of a new language (Morias recently arrived from Italy), as well to encourage his outreach into the community. Fernandes told me; “My role is not just about business, but about changing lives.”

I was introduced to this new enterprise by enamel artist Barbara Marder. Marder is a former art teacher at the Kennedy School in Somerville and currently has a space at the Artists Asylum outside Union Square. At the Kennedy School she supervised students who created a mural that involved glass enamel that is still on display today. Marder, who trained at Skidmore and Boston University, works extensively with enamel, and a lot of her enamel jewelry is on display at the shop. I purchased one of her inexpensive brooches for a friend of mine—and she immediately adorned it on her coat. I say that is a  strong endorsement. Marder has also produced enamel on copper bowls and paints landscapes of the Berkshires, and other scenes. Marder tells me she is hardly a provincial artist, as she has a following nationally and internationally.

Another resident artist at the shop is Consuelo J. Perez. Perez describes her genre of arts as “Trash to Treasure.” She recycles items like bottle caps, key rings, and other items into off the grid jewelry, brooches, zipper earrings, etc… that are displayed at the store. Perez is a longtime Somerville resident and works from a home studio. She sees the neighborhood changing rapidly, and is glad there are still venues for her work. She has also displayed her work at the Somerville Open Studios, and other events that the Somerville Arts Council offers.

The third artist I spoke to was Jennifer Weigel. She describes herself as a conceptual artist, photographer, and painter.  She recently relocated from St. Louis to Somerville to be near her boyfriend.  She described her painting as Monet-influenced, and she works with oil and acrylic.  A few of her paintings were displayed at the shop. She told me “I am and identity-based artist. I work with costumes, gender identity, etc… “ Weigel has had exhibits around the country, like the ARC gallery in San Francisco and others.. She continued, “I consider myself a social  and environmental activist, and a feminist. My work reflects that.”

Weigel and this band of artists have plans.   They will have an open house event on Saturday January 31st from 1-4PM
.  For more info about the gallery call: 857-417-6631.

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