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!