Friday, June 24, 2022

Somerville painter Sandra Allik : A Very Colorful Past, and a very colorful Artist

I met Sandra Allik in her space at the Miller St. Studios in Somerville, Ma. Her studio is a bubble of color--with many vivid paintings lining the walls.

Allik told me she finds the artistic environs in Somerville pleasing. She said, "I love my studio. I moved here in 2009; and presently there are a great group of artists working here. Recently I exhibited at the Inside/Out Gallery--which is basically a CVS window in Davis Square. I sold one of my paintings for 1800 dollars. I was surprised it sold  because it was in an unassuming store window." Obviously Allik knows that Somerville is fertile grounds for artists. Allik went on to explain how supportive the Somerville Arts Council is, and she is quite enthused about the Somerville Open Studios event that was recently held.

Allik, in another life, was a television journalist for the Canadian Broadcast Corporation and worked with CBS as well. She happened to be in the Washington Bureau during the heady Watergate years. She recalled, " It was an extraordinary time for me. I was in Washington at this time, and there was a frenzy of activity at the bureau. I can say that it was thrilling and appalling--but it is quaint in light of what we have going on today. During this time I met the iconic journalists Daniel Shore, and Eric Sevareid  We called Eric the "philosopher with a camera," because he ended his broadcast with little, but profound editorials."

Allik does not consider herself a political artist at this time. Back in 1984 when she lived in Israel, she witnessed the early beginnings of the Intifada. After experiencing the violence in the West Bank, she was more political and her paintings reflected the violence of the time.

Earlier, when she was with her journalist husband on assignment for CBS, she traveled to Moscow. Allik reflected on this dour city, "The whole atmosphere in Moscow was bleak, dark and colorless. The only time you saw color was during the holidays. They then they had red flags all over the place." Allik was introduced to dissident Russian artists by a photographer friend of hers. Often these outside artists were placed in psychiatric hospitals because they didn't fit into the Soviet propaganda scheme.

 Allik told me that during her time in Moscow her apartment was flush with bugs, monitoring  her and her husband's conversations. Mysterious men on trains, and mysterious phone calls in the dead of night, were the rule of thumb. In spite of this  Allik  purchased many paintings, etchings, and drawings from these dissident  artists. Now Allik is selling the work and sending the proceeds to It's quite the irony that work from Russia is providing aid to the Ukraine.

Allik told me that she started working with colors in Ibiza, (an island in the Mediterranean sea) when she and her husband lived there. She told me about a place on the island that she called the "magic valley," where they resided. Before this her paintings were more muted, but there she was taken by the colors, and the beauty of the landscape. After this her paintings had a decidedly different look.

Allik, a graduate of Wellesley College did not formally study art. But she did take workshops at the Carpenter Center at Harvard University and elsewhere. And obviously, this self-trained artist is immensely skilled.

Allick is one of the many talented artists in then Miller St. Studios, and in Somerville-the Paris of New England.

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Red Letter Poem #116

 The Red Letters



In ancient Rome, feast days were indicated on the calendar by red letters.  To my mind, all poetry and art serves as a reminder that every day we wake together beneath the sun is a red-letter day.


                                                                                                          – Steven Ratiner



Red Letter Poem #116




Summer arrives freighted with expectation.  Maybe that’s because so many of us were conditioned by the long school year where, at that June goal line, we’d be set free into a two-sided paradise: freedom/boredom.  Or perhaps it’s just a sense of relief that sun and warmth bring – especially for those of us dwelling in the northern hemisphere – after the endurance we mustered to face an interminable winter.  And, unavoidably, each new summer reminds us that time is indeed passing, and we’ve no guarantees about how many seasons we are to be granted.


“One must have a mind of winter”, wrote Wallace Stevens in “The Snow Man”, to regard that cold unfolding.  Perhaps that’s true for summer as well – a mind geared, not just for the grand moments (the dazzling display of Fourth of July rockets or the reward of those exotic of vacation locales,) but for the slow-motion flowering and decline of the garden; the symphonic layers of birdsong, cicada drone, and wind-stirred oaks; and (my personal Elysium) the riotous mouthful of the season’s first ripe tomato.  Or, in the case of poet Alan Feldman, the quiet captivation of stellar light. . .when accompanied, especially, by a like-minded loved one.  Ambivalent winds blow quietly through his new poem: expectation and disappointment; memory and presence.  I find much in the speaker’s meditation that resonates with my own summer thinking.  Perhaps it will spur your own, now that the season has officially taken hold.  I’m happy to have Alan make his second Red Letter appearance with this new poem.  He’s the author of four poetry collections, the most recent of which – The Golden Coin (University of Wisconsin Press) – was awarded the Four Lakes Poetry Prize.  For many years, Alan was a professor (and later chair) of English at Framingham State University. After retiring he continued to teach free drop-in poetry workshops in Framingham and on Cape Cod.  He and his wife Nan (a painter whose work, I’m sure, sharpens her husband’s eye) divide their time between Florida and the Commonwealth.


Indeed, summer comes to us, burdened by our pent-up desires and unbridled anticipation.  (You can say the same, I guess, about poetry, art, life itself.)  But, every now and then – if we’ve developed a mind and a heart for it – it delivers.







Question:  If we enter a dark hallway 

will the past shine behind us, so we won’t 

feel so lost?  Remember Lieutenant Island?

Remember the cottage with the cupola that swayed

in the night wind?  But we’re outside starbathing.

We’d just been making love inside our Plymouth

so the kids wouldn’t hear us.  No ambient light.

Stars sharp as lasers.  Copious.  Like outer space.

Our forearms on the aluminum armrests of the deckchairs.

This is the summer I’ll write my children’s book,

our daughter asking for nightly chapters. And our son

had a kind playmate, Dave, who will move to North Carolina 

and became a homicide detective.  The lovely past!

And the night sky, whose lights come from there.



                                     – Alan Feldman




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