Experience JP Open Studios

By Grace Zaborski

Special to the Gazette

For 24 years, artists of Jamaica Plain have opened their studios to the community and displayed their art for one weekend in September. This year, it is Sept. 23 and 24. Jamaica Plain Open Studios (JPOS) offers a range of places to go and types of art to see. There are a multitude of styles including collaborative work, student work, and even the opportunity to create art first hand.

What happens when artists join forces? A collaborative installation entitled “The Time Project, Passing It On, Nine Artists Inspire Each Other,” will be displayed in the First Baptist Church on Centre Street. The Time Project is group of 9 female artists who meet once a month to share their personal pieces, give critiques, and expand upon the meanings of their works. “We get to discuss the process of making art, which is really rare,” said founder, Sandie Fenton. This year they present a series of pieces that nine different members have participated in creating. “One person creates a piece of work, hands it to the next person on a list and the next person makes a piece that responds to the last one and keeps the original. Then they hand their work on to a third person who creates a response and hands their piece on…You only see the one immediately before the one that you are working on,” explained Joan Schwartz, who suggested the idea of The Time Project. Their work exhibits the individuality and independence that each member partakes in as a group of artists who are all inspired by each other and relate to each other.

Step inside The Real Deal restaurant to take in an exhibit of photography from two classes of adult students at the Eliot School: Street Photography and Photographing People. The pieces shown are part of a final project for each of the classes to display their work for an audience. “Bringing all these different students with different backgrounds together in a class and then in an exhibit seems like a really good building of community: the Jamaica Plain community, the Open Studios community, the Eliot School community,” said instructor Robin Radin. This exhibition marks the opening of The Real Deal’s walls as a gallery space where art will be displayed year-round. Public spaces and local artists working together, creating a neighborhood that is vibrant and dynamic.

Along with their staff exhibits, The Eliot School will be hosting a series of booths exhibiting and selling art created by students involved in the Teen Bridge Program. The Teen Bridge Program is a new opportunity created in the fall of 2016 for a group of six teenagers to meet weekly and work on their skills in leadership, art and work experience. “It is a way for the Eliot School to connect the youth in the public schools that we serve… to the schoolhouse,” said Charlotte Huffman, teen arts specialist at the Eliot School and coordinator of the Teen Bridge Program. This summer, teens involved with the program during the 2016-2017 school year have been working at the Eliot School as teachers for the younger students. These teens will be selling their art, as well as raising money for next year’s program by selling a marbleized baby shoes that were given to the Eliot School. The teenagers will also be running craft activities during Open Studios outside of the Eliot School, so feel free to stop by with your family, friends, and children to make some art of your own!

Stonybrook Fine Arts, showing at JPOS for their 10th year, is offering several hands-on opportunities to create aluminum sculpture. One option will be to create scratch-blocks, a hard sand tile that you carve into and create a relief, which then has metal poured into it like a mold. Another option is the more time-consuming and traditional sand-cast sculpture; an object is cast in a sand mold to create a relief and filled with aluminum to create a sculpture. Make your own art, while viewing the works of others. “The things we offer here are open to complete novices, as well as professional artists… we are happy to do collaborative projects,” said Anne Sasser, managing partner and artist at Stonybrook Fine Arts. “What we offer gives people the opportunity to try something new, or if they already know how to do it, we offer facilities and rental space for artists.”

Grace Hillard-Koshinsky, a former Stonybrook teacher, will be offering a demonstration involving the inflation of steel. After heating the steel with a torch, the steel will begin to change shape, inflating and acting differently than one would traditionally expect steel to behave. “In a fairly short amount of time, if you do the preparation properly, you can achieve a drastic visual difference in the metal,” Grace said. Each time steel inflation is attempted, the final result will be slightly different, depending on preparation and conditions; it is guaranteed to be an impressive demonstration to experience. Stonybrook Fine Arts’ teachers will be exhibiting outside, as well in the second floor studio area.

JPOS offers many opportunities for the community to experience exciting art exhibits and demonstrations. Coordinator Susan Duprey noted that “it is the opportunity to visit individual artists in their private studios that gives JPOS a vibrant energy” and she encourages visitors to go off the beaten path and explore new studios and new neighborhoods. “Talking with an artist about a piece, understanding the process or the story behind the finished product is really inspiring,” she said. JPOS is a place for everyone who enjoys viewing or creating art. There are numerous opportunities throughout the community to explore studios and artwork of local artists. Open Studios unites members of the community through art and culture; it is an event that nobody should miss.

JPOS is celebrating its 24th year as the premiere annual arts event in Jamaica Plain. JPOS showcases 200 artists in 40 sites. The event is open to the public and will take place Sept. 23 and 24 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information and to preview artists’ work, visit jpopenstudios.com.

Grace Zaborski is a volunteer with the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.

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