Tuesday, July 23, 2019

From an abandoned storefront window: art sprouts in East Somerville

( Left to Right)  Stan Eichner, June Lee, Abigail Coyle, Doug Holder

From an abandoned storefront window: art sprouts in East Somerville

By Doug Holder

Every once in awhile I leave the environs of Union Square to get a taste of the buffet of creativity we have in our city. In this case it was East Somerville.  After all the Poet Laureate of Somerville Lloyd Schwartz resides there—as well as the renowned Mudflat Studios. On a warm June day I ventured East to meet with Jen Atwood, director of East Somerville Main Streets and her band of artists and artisans, at the innovative space called Mudflat. According to their website,

 "Mudflat is a clay studio for students and artists of all ages and levels in metro Boston. We offer a dynamic artistic community, featuring classes, workshops, outreach programming and events, plus a mix of studio rentals for 38 professional clay artists."

The Mudflat Studios is an impressive place with a huge cavernous studio, and many smaller work spaces on several floors. Atwood introduced me to three of the artists who contributed to the Windows Project—part of the East Somerville Carnaval celebration. Each artists explores the meaning of “Carnaval,” which is inspired by a traditional Brazilian street fair. For some of the artists Carnavale is a specific cultural celebration, for others it is a general street celebration.

The artists' whose work adorns the windows of the abandoned East End Grill (right down the block from the studios), include: Katherine Martin Widmer, Abigail Coyle, Stan Eichner, June Lee, and Gary Duehr. Since Widmer and Duehr weren't available I interviewed the three remaining artists.

June Lee, a refugee from the banking world, found her bliss in pottery at the Mudflat Studios. She is now on their faculty. In addition,  she works in a technical capacity at Somerville High. Her ceramic plaques are hung with the other artists' works on the storefront window.  About her pottery, she told me, "I think my pieces are fun to look at. On my pottery I inscribe inspirational quotes, while some quotes are just for fun. We need some Zen and giggle sometimes. It is a crazy world." Much of her pottery pieces  that I saw were expertly crafted with vivid imagery and color.

Abigail Coyle,  is a long time resident of East Somerville. She makes her daily nut in book production at the Algonquin Club in Boston. Coyle is a lover of plants, and she uses the leaf of a Monstera plant ( a flowering plant native to many tropical places), as an inspiration for her window display. Coyle told me, " My leaf piece is made from basic retail craft, glued with a remarkable craft adhesive call Mod Podge." This glossy leaf has been the subject of many conversations from local folks passing by.

Stan Eichner, who is a former civil rights lawyer includes a photographic image from Somerville's " Honk Festival." This musical festival expresses the same sense of joy and celebration of the Carnavale. Eichner told me, " My photography is pretty broad from landscape--to street photography. When I was at the Honk Festival my camera was drawn to the energy and excitement of the scene."

Yes, even an abandoned storefront window can sprout art--here--in --The Paris of New England.

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