Architectural Paintings with a Twist. Featured Artist: Mike Gruber. Western Avenue Studio: 112.

Experimental, Whimsical, & Lighthearted – Western Avenue Studios Artist Association (WASAA) member Michael Gruber enjoys distorting architectural compositions.  This father of two received his architectural degree from Iowa State.  Born and raised in Lowell, he enjoys painting local scenes and iconic buildings that evoke nostalgia.  Approximately 10 years ago, he started taking art lessons at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education.  Prior to joining the Western Avenue community in July 2018, he painted above his garage in Lexington and in a small commercial space in Arlington.

His Process of Manipulation – Mike begins each piece by experimenting with various compositions through a series of thumbnails in his sketchbook.  Once a strong distorted composition emerges, he begins his oil painting process by transferring his sketch onto a black canvas using a grid system.  Using a reduced color palette, he develops sweeping curves or focal points that create unique architectural perspectives. While painting, Mike likes to listen to podcasts.  Once a piece is finished, Mike encloses the canvas with a white or black wooden frame that he makes himself. 

Significant Influences – During his childhood, Mike’s parents encouraged him to pursue art by enrolling him in art classes.  In high school, he took drafting classes and spent a lot of his free time drawing buildings and city scenes.  According to Mike, Linda McCluskey and James Michalopoulos are the two artists that have influenced his work the most.

Visiting Western Avenue Studios and Lofts – Mike is often in his studio Monday through Friday from 9:00am to 3:00pm.  He will also be open during our next Open Studios on Saturday, April 6, 2019 from 12 – 5 p.m.  Stop by and see his pieces for yourself!

 

Feeling Lucky? Here’s Your Chance to Win Our “Patches for Pets” Quilt

Several Western Avenue Studios artists and friends have created a patchwork quilt to benefit the Lowell Humane Society.  During our March Open Studios (12-5 p.m.) on Saturday, March 2nd, the Lowell Humane Society will be onsite selling tickets for the quilt raffle in the A Mill Loading Dock.  Tickets can also be purchased online: http://bit.ly/patchesforpets

 

Contributors to this quilt include: Cornie Forster, Liz Smith, Sarah Stewart, Anna Belle Davis, Opal Goff, Shanna Rose Thompson, Annrose Thompson, Susan Stranc, Christine Quiry, Michele Boll MacKenzie, Suzanne Hodge, and Mary Dumas.

At 4:45 p.m. on March 2nd, the winner will be selected.  You do not have to be present at the time of the drawing to win.  The quilt can be shipped to winner, but a shipping fee will apply.

 

We also hope you will visit our artists’ studios and lofts.  There is so much to explore and see.  Admission and parking for this event are free.  Navigation Brewing Company will be open and Daddy’s Bonetown Burgers food truck will be on site that day as well.

Painting with Heart. Featured Artist: Debra Bretton Robinson. Western Avenue Studio: A409.

Painter and Art Educator– Western Avenue Studios Artist Association (WASAA) member Debra Bretton Robinson has been a part of the Western Avenue community for more than 10 years.  This mother of three graduated from Mass College of Art with a degree in Painting and Art Education in 1991.  Since then, she has been sharing her love for art with young people as a K-8 educator.  She is currently serving as a special education paraprofessional in Georgetown, MA.  Deb began painting at the age of four, and to this day she can clearly remember the moment she learned what an easel was in nursery school.  Having the opportunity to paint standing up using an easel was a formative moment for this Plaistow, NH native.

Bright, Playful, and Graphic – Deb’s colorful compositions capture various moments of her life in New England on canvas in a bold and graphic way.  Her preferred medium is acrylic paint, but she originally started out using watercolor.  When painting in her studio, she enjoys listening to jazz and blues.  During the warmer months in New England, she leaves her studio behind and joins her husband on their 1974 Glastron boat with paints and canvas in hand.  While her husband is fishing, she paints en plein air, portraying scenes from local sites such as: Lake Massapog, Long Sought Pond, Merrimack River, Nashua River, and Gloucester.  In addition to her On the Boat series, she has renderings of local birds, architecture, and landscapes.  Her latest work includes a flower series.

Deb’s Advice to Young Artists – “Don’t stop painting or creating.  Keep going!  Ignore anyone telling you differently, even yourself.”

Visiting Western Avenue Studios and Lofts – You can see Deb’s work for yourself at our next Open Studios on Saturday, March 2, 2019 from 12 – 5 p.m.  Her fine art is also visible at: debrabrettonrobinson.wordpress.com or fineartamerica/brettonarts.com.   Her work is also currently on display at the Essex Center for the Arts in Lawrence and Merrimack Reparatory Theatre in Lowell. 

 

 

 

 

If You’re an Art Lover, then You’ll Love Western Avenue Studios and Lofts

Whether you’ve been here before or it’s your first time, February is a great time to visit the artists at Western Avenue Studios and Lofts with your loved ones.

Make a Day of It!  Studios and lofts are open to the public from 12-5 p.m. Check out the variety of works created by the members of our creative community.  Grab a craft beer, grab lunch from Chicks and Dogs, visit the Onyx Room, or see Loading Dock Gallery’s member show “I Heart” from 4-6 p.m.

Gifts from the HeART Promotion. This fun activity happens during February Open Studios! Take a “Gifts from the HeART” postcard as you enter any of our buildings, explore Western Ave, and pick up stickers from participating studios and lofts. Turn in your postcard as you exit our buildings to be entered in for a chance to win a $25, $50, or $75 gift certificate!

Show Your Love on Social Media. If you love visiting Western Avenue as much as we enjoy sharing our passion with people like you, please show your love by posting some pictures of your visit to your social media account.  Be sure to tag your posts with #westernavearts.

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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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!

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.

The Art of Gift Giving

Special events like Holiday Open Studios may be over with for 2016 but there’s still time to get thoughtful, unique, local, handmade gifts for everyone on your list. Many of our artists will have their studios open for shopping in the days leading up to Christmas. Check the board by the elevator as you walk into the building to see what studios are open that day.

Also the Loading Dock Gallery, which features many artists throughout the building and the local arts community is featuring extended hours this week for your shopping needs!
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Don’t forget to come back January 7th for our first Open Studios event of 2017!