Volunteering for JP Open Studios an art in itself

Courtesy Photo Staffers at the information booth in front of J.P. Licks during Jamaica Plain Open Studios last year. A total of 36 volunteers are needed at information booths again this year on Sept. 27 and 28.

Jamaica Plain Open Studios will celebrates its 15th anniversary in September. “It’s amazing to realize that volunteers spend over 900 hours planning, promoting and organizing the event over the course of a year, year after year” coordinator Jean Mineo said. “And that is mostly the small, committed board of directors of the Jamaica Plain Arts Council.”

Beyond the board, volunteers assist with installing the juried exhibition, managing fund-raising events, and distributing promotional materials. “After all this behind-the-scenes effort,” Mineo said, “the event relies on 36 people to manage the information booths who become the public face of Open Studios. Unfortunately, we struggle to fill those key slots.”

Volunteering for the information booth requires a three-hour commitment on either Saturday or Sunday and can be done with a friend. “All you need is a sense of humor and enthusiasm for JP. We provide training and home-baked cookies,” Mineo said. “It’s actually a great way to meet and connect with people.”

Longtime booth volunteer Julie McKee concurred. “Volunteering at Open Studios gives me a chance to give back to the community on a fun weekend,” she said. “I have the opportunity to see great art and talk to lots of interesting people—and be outside in the sunshine on a beautiful fall day—some years.” Basic responsibilities include handing out brochures with maps, answering questions about JP, and providing directions and recommendations for places to eat, shop and visit.

Mineo is the only paid parttime staff person to support the board. This year she had Hannah Johnson, a junior art history student from Providence College, to volunteer through the summer. “With an extra set of hands, we are able to explore new directions for Open Studios—like getting the event information into Google Maps so more people can find us and customize their visits this year.” Johnson will also continue to coordinate volunteers for the event even though she will returns to her studies in Rhode Island after Labor Day.

Some volunteers like Maggie Carberry help periodically. “I teach more than full-time during the school year, and I don’t have consistent time to work on a committee,” she said. “Instead, I try to lend a hand with events whenever I can. I figure that if I keep doing a little bit here and there it will eventually add up to something.”

To learn more about volunteering and supporting Open Studios or the juried exhibition, contact Johnson at [email protected] or Mineo at [email protected]

Jamaica Plain Open Studios will showcase the work of 220 artists at 75 sites. The free event is open to the public on Sept. 27 and 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. For more information, to register and to preview artists’ work, visit www.jpopenstudios.com or call 943-7819. A brochure with site map will be inserted in the Sept. 12 JP Gazette.

The juried exhibition reception will be Sept. 12 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Maliotis Cultural Center at Hellenic College, 50 Goddard Ave. The public is invited to meet the artists, enjoy live jazz and food from local restaurants and bid on silent auction items to support Open Studios. Preview and bid on items at http://jpopenstudios.cmarket.com. The exhibition runs Sept. 2-18.

Jamaica Plain Open Studios is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council, a local agency which is funded by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, administrated by the Mayor’s Office of Arts, Tourism and Special Events.

Submitted by Jamaica Plain Open Studios organizers.

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