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.

Artoberfest at Western Avenue Studios and Lofts

Letting go of summer can be difficult especially in New England.  But, there is an incredible silver lining that comes with this annual change: the Fall.  For most of us, Fall brings forth an array of exciting stimuli such as: the crisp autumn air, aromas of all things apple, spectacular leaf displays, the soaring cheers of football fans, and all kinds of pumpkin flavored treats.  For Western Avenue artists, fall is also a very special time because we hold our annual Artoberfest!

Here’s what’s happening during Artoberfest this year…

  • Artists open up their studios and lofts to the public for two days ─ October 6th and 7th from 12-5 p.m.
  • Our historic mill buildings are the home of over 300 artists and have many corridors you can weave your way through – embark on your own art maze adventure.
  • Artist demonstrations will be held in a range of mediums so you can see how art is made.
  • Our artist designed pumpkin contest will once again delight visitors with the unusual and unexpected.  In addition, you can vote for your favorite pumpkin and be entered in for a chance to win a gift certificate.
  • The Loading Dock Gallery will be hosting a New England Regional Juried Show with Annual Poetry Convergence ─ not to be missed.
  • Navigation Brewery and Food Trucks (Phoenix Rising Pizza – October 6th; Chicks and Dogs – October 7th) will be onsite ─ enjoy a tasty snack and a handcrafted cold one.
  • The Onyx Room will be open for viewing if you are looking to rent a venue for an upcoming event.

Bring your family and friends ─ there is something for everyone to love!

Because our artists use a variety of mediums, there is bound to be something in our complex that will speak to every member of your family.  Both admission and parking for this event are free.  So, save the date for this awesome autumn celebration and join us for an artful experience your senses will surely not forget!

Check out our Facebook Event Page for further details!

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!

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.

Create More

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Create more love. Create more understanding. Create more peace.

Create more ART.

Best wishes from all of us at Western Avenue Studios to all of you, and yours, in the coming new year.

May Open Studios

Pick up a unique Mother’s Day gift for Mom while you come visit where art is made!

On the first Saturday of every month, Western Avenue Studios and Western Avenue Lofts artists open their doors to the public so that you can come browse their latest works. Come take a peek inside and learn more about our artists. Our artists always have new work to show, and new artists are opening, some of them for the first time. This is a great place for browsing art, chatting with the artists, and purchasing unique gifts for all. Gift certificates available too. Art at Western Avenue Open Studios is available in all price ranges.

This is a free event. Free parking available right next to our building or by a short, free shuttle ride away at the Stoklosa Middle School. See our guides at our building entrance if you need parking assistance.

Putting on the Dog

There’s a lot of good reasons why artists decide to get studios at Western Avenue Studios. Community, a place to create, a beautiful historic setting. The dog-friendly nature of the building is just one great added bonus. Studio dogs are such a day to day feature of being an artist at Western Ave Studios that the hashtag #Dogs ofWesternAve has popped up on Instagram and Facebook. The life of a studio dog is a pretty exhausting one, as you can tell by seeing these hard-working pups in action:

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Of course, if you’re going to put a bunch of creative people in one spot and then add some dogs into the mix you’re going to end up with lots of art about pets and for pets and for their owners.

Many of the dogs of Western Ave have become the subjects of the colorful dog paintings done by artist Ilene Richard in studio 325

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Lois Mitchell in Loft 213  can make a custom pet portrait for you based off a photograph

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Ron Weed, in studio 205, offers airbrushed pet portraits

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Here’s studio dog Madeleine modeling her handmade dog sweater from As U R Studios, #513

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Ceramics by Nooshin, in A303, makes a variety of custom pet keepsakes

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Amaranth & Rue, studio A411, recently expanded their line of naturally luxurious soaps and skincare to include pet products like paw and nose balm and doggie shampooch as well.

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Of course not every place is as quick to allow people to have or bring their pets. Luckily Jay Hungate, studio 524, has some adoptable beasts of a much different sort that should appeal to those who don’t have the space, time, or inclination for a dog.

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