The Art of Bookbinding: Learn More at Artoberfest. Featured Artist Todd Davis Western Avenue Studio: A314

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Our previous featured artist is not the only Western Avenue Studios Artist Association (WASAA) member gearing up to go back to school.  Book binder, Todd Davis, doubles as a receptionist at the North Bennet Street School, his alma mater.

Hands-on and Technically Challenging – A lover of history and old crusty books, Todd became interested in how books work during the many hours he spent among the stacks while pursuing his undergraduate degree in history at the University of Massachusetts Boston.  A former software consultant of 30 plus years, he likes that book binding is a technically challenging, hands-on process that doesn’t require a keyboard or computer.

Nomadic – Todd was born in Texas, raised in Ohio, and lived in Florida before moving to New England to work for Wang Laboratories in 1982.  After living in Nashua, NH, he moved to Medford, MA, then finally settled in the South End of Boston.  Each time he comes to work at Western Avenue Studios, he commutes an hour and a half by commuter rail.

Right Place at the Right Time – Establishing a bindery can be very costly and time consuming.  However, fate was hard at work the day Todd came across a mailing list announcement about a binder in Norwich, VT who was looking to sell his entire bindery before he retired.  It was an all or nothing acquisition.  So, Todd plunged head first into his new mid-life career.  After a good deal of searching, he decided to set up shop here at Western Avenue a little over two years ago.  Getting the equipment into his studio was a great feat, as some of his equipment fully assembled weighs 1000 lbs or more.

Restoration & Repairs – Besides commissions and workshops, Todd provides book repair services.  Each repair project presents various obstacles, but Todd loves the challenge as well as the mystery and history involved in taking a book a part.  He usually has an old time radio show playing in the background when he’s dissecting book structures, except in July when he faithfully watches the Tour de France.  Some of his past repair projects include: a family bible, a Roman Missal, a 50-year-old wedding photo album, and a private library’s circulating collection.

Visiting Western Avenue Studios During Artoberfest – Like several other Western Avenue artists, Todd will be conducting demonstrations on his latest projects during Artoberfest (10/6, 10/7). In addition, you can find Todd in his studio sometime between 9am-6pm on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays during a typical week.  Walk-ins are always welcome.

For more information on the Middlesex Bindery, check out Todd’s website: https://middlesexbindery.com/ and his Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MiddlesexBindery.

Check out our Artoberfest Facebook Event Page for further details!

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Back to School Featured Artist: Susan Drennan. Western Avenue Studio: 221

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Resilient, Determined, Competitive, and Disciplined – Western Avenue Studios Artist Association (WASAA) member Susan Drennan is diligently getting ready to go back to school on August 29th.  A non-traditional student, Susan is a retired mother of four from Danvers who is currently a junior (majoring in painting and minoring in curatorial studies) at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA.  This semester, she will be enrolled in a painting class, an art history course on Greek and Roman Art, and an independent study.

A Love of Painting – Susan started painting when she was 20 years old and enjoys the “different state of mind” she reaches when she’s focused on painting.  She usually has multiple projects going at once and she likes to work in the following four mediums: oil, acrylic, pastel, and watercolor.  A lover of the outdoors, she often engages in plein air painting and when the weather doesn’t cooperate, she retreats to her quiet studio.  Because she believes in using her God-given talent, Susan paints every day.  As a goal-oriented person who likes a challenge, she hopes to get into a plein air art festival as well as teach painting classes one day.  Lately, she’s been working on loosening up her style by engaging in timed painting exercises.  This lover of cartoons, color, and coffee provided the following advice for young artists: “Practice drawing (perspective, value, composition) as much as you can.  Paint what you want, and don’t be afraid to fail because every time you paint you learn.”

Varied Work and Life Experiences – Susan has been a homeschooler, a technical illustrator, a cake shop owner, a clown, a metal chipper and grinder, a New England School of Art & Design (NESAD) student, a kitchen worker at Gordon College, a personal trainer, a competitive body builder, and a portrait artist.  She moved into Western Avenue Studios approximately 18 months ago.  Her first studio was located on the fourth floor, but she recently moved down to the second floor C/D mill.  An advocate for repurposing and reusing, Susan often checks out Western Avenue’s Free Cycle area for materials she can put to good use.  For example, the beautiful wood portion of her studio floor came from Free Cycle as did her work space cabinet and table top.

Visiting Western Avenue Studios and Lofts – If you come by to visit Susan, a comfy chair awaits you on the far side of her studio, and provides a great view of her salon-style gallery.  Her fine art is also visible on her website: susandrennanart.com and her Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/susandrennan.finearts/.  In addition, Susan plans to have a 20% sale in her studio during Artoberfest (10/6, 10/7) and Holiday Open Studios (12/1, 12/2, 12/8, 12/9).

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Enhance Your Back to School Experience at Western Avenue Studios and Lofts

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It’s that time of year again.  Stores are awash with families preparing for the upcoming school year.   Don’t forget to put Western Avenue Studios and Lofts on your shopping itinerary.  Here are 11 ways you can leverage our next Open Studios event on September 1st (Noon – 5 p.m.) to enhance your Back to School experience:

  1. Spruce up this year’s wardrobe with a new wearable handmade piece.
  2. Find colorful artwork for dorm rooms, homes, offices, or apartments.
  3. Treat a favorite teacher or coworker to something unique.
  4. Get inspired – see over 50,000 works of art in our complex and attend the Loading Dock Gallery’s Of Earth and Air show (4 – 6 p.m.).
  5. Learn some tips and tricks by watching demonstrations or chatting with a fun mix of friendly creative people.
  6. Find a photographer to capture your special family moments.
  7. Have a favorite book that’s falling apart rebound.
  8. Check out the Onyx Room if you are looking to rent a venue for an upcoming event.
  9. Freshen up every bedroom with a cozy quilt.
  10. Enhance family meal prep with a handcrafted cutting board from one of our talented woodworkers.
  11. Tell us how you heard about us on an Orange Survey Card and you will be entered in for a chance to win a gift certificate.

These are just a few reasons for attending our September event.  However, don’t take our word for it.  Come and check it out for yourself!  Admission and parking for this event are free.  Navigation Brewery will be open and Chicks and Dogs food truck will be on site that day.

Check out our Facebook Event Page for further details!

Spring Art Thing at Western Avenue Studios

Join the artists of Western Avenue Studios for Open Studios the first Saturday in May- and don’t forget to take part in the Spring Art Thing, our free drawing for a Western Ave gift certificate!

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Creaticity: Lowell Art & Maker Festival

The Cultural Organization of Lowell (COOL) is excited to announce Lowell’s first Art & Maker Festival will be happening this weekend, September 16-17, 2017 in downtown Lowell. CREATICITY will fill Market Street with art and culture of all types – artists and makers, writers, performers, music, interactive public art, and so much more.

Many of the artists, writers, and makers of Western Avenue Studios will be featured at this event. WAS artists vending on Market Street will be:

WAS artist Lisa Hertel will also be doing a free workshop, “Grow Your Own Wire Tree,” on Saturday at 4:30. Stephan Anstey is doing a workshop at 4:30 on Sunday entitled, “Coming Unstuck through Poetry.”

Creaticity is free and open to the public.Visitors can expect to see over 50 booths lining Market Street exhibiting fine art and artisan goods for sale, featuring works by local artists. Makers will showcase their creations or projects promoting science, technology and art. Stage and street performers will delight young and old alike, with music, theater, and dance. Free interactive workshops and demos will be held throughout the two-day festival, allowing visitors to learn and create their own art. Visit the writers corner to speak with local authors and listen to their works. The Revolving Museum will be creating a large public art piece, where the public can join in making the artwork over the course of the weekend. Walking tours will be led by members of the community, allowing visitors to learn more about Lowell’s public art scene, dance in Lowell, and innovation & invention.

A New Look for the Old Ball Game

Sports fans and art lovers unite! Western Avenue Studios and the Lowell Spinners continue their partnership this August 11th with “Art in the Park,” a unique chance to browse and purchase creative works by Western Ave Artists at LeLacheur Park, and with a Silent Auction, the proceeds of which will go towards Spinners charities and Loading Dock Arts, a  501(c)3 charity that supports art education and resources in Lowell.

Up for auction will be original works of art created using Spinners baseballs and other gaming equipment. Check out a sneak preview below of some of the works of baseball art that will be for auction at the August 11th game at LeLacheur Park, and get your tickets to the game online here to be part of the action! The game will be followed by fireworks.

Artists Pick the President

In a year like this one it should come as no surprise that the “Primped Out Pumpkin Contest,” one of the annual events at ARToberfest, had it’s share of political commentary. Shanna Thompson, of studio 210, took things a step further and let ARToberfest visitors vote for their choice for President.

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The results of this pre-election by artists and art-lovers followed national polls. Hillary took the lead over the Trumpkin – but not by as much as you’d think (or hope depending on your political bent.) So take that as a warning, when it comes to elections nothing is ever for certain. In keeping in this spirit, Western Avenue Studios is an early voting location this year. Lowell residents are invited to skip the long election day lines and cast their vote early on Sunday October 30th, from 10:00 to 2:00, at Western Avenue Studios, located at 122 Western Ave, in Lowell, MA.

Also on the ballot is your chance to voice your opinion on your Representative in Congress, the Governor’s Councilor, the State Senator, State Representative, and Sheriff. You’ll also have your chance to weigh in on ballot Question One (an additional slot parlor), Question Two (expanding charter schools), Three (quality of life rights for farm animals) and Question Four (legalizing recreational marijuana.)

And don’t fret- early voters still get nifty “I voted” stickers!

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Artists of Western Ave Studios rule “Kingdom Animalia”

The Whistler House Museum of Art has given their 2016 juried members exhibit a “wild” theme this year – and many of the artists at Western Avenue Studios have been included in the show. “Kingdom Animalia” shows off the animal loving side of art with more than eighty original pieces in a variety of mediums.

“The Kingdom Animalia exhibition came out of discussions of people’s love for pets, and we chose to expand the subject to include all animals,” says President and Executive Director Sara Bogosian. “The result is a wondrous array of paintings, drawings, sculpture, and fiber art of creatures large and small. It is an overwhelming and lovely exhibition that all ages will enjoy.”

Among the many works on display are several by WAS artists. Valerie Borgal, Joe Lapiana, Jack Homes, Art Ferrier, Kathy Lennon Clericuzio, Nita Leger Casey, Laurie Simko, Suzanne Hodge, Margot Mam Thach Ilene Richard, and Denise Rainis all have works represented in the show. Congratulations to Laurie Simko, who has three pieces in the show, one of which earned her a Whistler Award.

The “Kingdom Animalia” exhibit runs through June 18th. The museum is open to visitors Weds through Saturday, 11:00 to 4:00. Or visit the artists themselves in their studios the first Saturday of every month during Open Studios to see more of their work.