The Brookline Open Studios is this weekend, April 27 & 28, from noon until 6pm. This is a beloved annual event that I like to compare to children's trick-or-treating; instead of a bag of candy you come away with a new appreciation for the creativity of your neighbors, and, if you're in the market for original artwork, a new painting or framed photograph. It is arguably the most exciting event for local artists and art lovers alike.
Some Brookline artists gather at local venues like the Public Library and the police department to show their work, while others open their living rooms and garages to the artsy and the merely curious. If you haven't yet experienced an Open Studios tour, this year is a great time to go. Close to 200 local artists will be participating.
"There will painters, photographers, mixed media artists," co-coordinator Peg O'Connell said. "A highlight for me is [husband-and-wife team] Alejandro & Moira of Siña Lightworks. Their light sculptures are really interesting and Alejandro and Moira love talking about how they make their art." Siña Lightworks will be showing on Sunday at Hunneman Hall in the Public Library, 361 Washington St.
Ms. O'Connell of Brookline has helped organize the show since 2002. Her black-and- white photography will be on display alongside nine other artists' work at Town Hall, 333 Washington Street. She first became involved with the show when she was introduced to fellow artist Gwen Ossenfort, also of Brookline.
Ms. Ossenfort became an organizer in 2001 because she admired the participating artists' level of professionalism. As an artist herself, she wanted to be affiliated with the event. Ossenfort started her own creative path doing photography, or as she likes to call it, "photographage," referring to her mix of photography and collage that extends beyond the picture onto the frame. Now she focuses on sculpting with sticks, rocks and twine. She will be showing her work at Brookline Community Foundation, 40 Webster Place.
When asked what artist(s) she was looking forward to seeing, Ossenfort said, "Studios Without Walls. They're a group of sculptors who are wrapping trees along the Muddy River Path." This instillation is special, she commented, because—being outdoors—it pushes the boundaries of the already-accessible Open Studios concept.
"Access is the most important part of Open Studios," said Ossenfort. "The public can see what a working studio looks like, see how the artists work, talk to them, ask them questions. The artist in turn gets access to public feedback. Some people will come in, look, and leave, but others will stay and talk to the artist for an hour about their composition." For some artists, she added, Open Studios also means the validation of selling their work.
The process for participating in the Open Studios weekend is based on an artist's personal drive and willingness to participate, and, in some cases, open their homes to the public. Artists submit a resume and samples of their work but there is no jury process.
Brookline Open Studios started in 1986 and was originally held every other year. Its surging popularity inspired organizers in the late 1990's to make it an annual event.
When deciding which day to go, Ms. O' Connell advised viewers to check the website http://www.brooklineartists.com to see when their favorite artists would be showing. Some artists show both Saturday and Sunday, while others, for personal or religious reasons, show only one of the two days. However, if your aim is simply to discover new artists, both days promise great finds.
"Open Studios brings people together. It's a boost to the whole community: the stores, restaurants, everyone," said Ms. Ossenfort.
By Jennifer Campaniolo