Poetry Story and Song, December 16th @ TLGUTS

There are a lot of hidden jewels here in Lynn, two of them being artists Elizabeth McKim and Don White. If you've been around here long enough, you know who they are; if you're new, keep reading. If you're not new, keep reading.

Elizabeth is a poet extraordinaire. She has published multiple books of poetry, including,  The Red Thread, which we carry here in Subterranean. Reading her poetry is an experience of personal awakening. Seeing and hearing her jazzy smooth style while reading live is a whole 'nother experience that I want you to have.

You will not be disappointed.

For those who are looking for a cv to back up my claims of her excellence, Elizabeth is Poet Laureate of the European Graduate School for Expressive Art Therapy in Switzerland. She is also a teacher at Leslie in the department of Creative Arts and Learning. She's a graduate of Goddard College, which turns out a creative force of artists and writers on the regular (a couple of artists we have lined up are also alumni of this school), and guest lectures all over the country on poetry and writing and creativity.

Don White, the P.S.S. musical story teller, i.e. folk artist, is one of the nation's best. He was born and raised right here in Lynn, which gives him by default, charisma wrought with sarcasm and insightful humor that is not unlike that of my family members, but with better comedic timing, a load of songwriting talent, and way more style. If you understand New England funny, he's going to make your face hurt from laughing so hard, or maybe your eyes well up from the sincerity of his performance. When I see him live, I laugh and cry, sometimes at the same time. I have never seen him live and not had sore cheeks after wards even if he just plays a song or two, or just reads a few pages from his book, Memoirs of a C Student, and I'm a pretty hard nut to crack.

If you don't understand New England funny, then come and we'll explain it to you. Just keep in mind that we don't make fun of people we don't like. For those people we have facial expressions and hand gestures and eye twitches.

Don is damn good. He's mischievous, he's got one of the biggest hearts around, is one of the hardest working proponents of the arts in Lynn, when he's not touring the country and spewing his storytelling, singing, songwriting comedic awesomeness. That's his cv. (Well, there's a lot more to him than that, so come meet him.)

Elizabeth came to me with the idea of Poetry Story and Song as a one time event for her and Don White to perform locally for an intimate group here at the gallery. I loved the idea so much, we're going to make it into a regular thing. 

The first event, featuring Elizabeth and Don, is Thursday, December 16th, 8pm, here at TLGUTS. The cost for tickets is $12 general admission, $6 seniors.

Oh, there's a charge? Yes dear. This isn't an open mic performance. Poets and songwriters have to buy food and pay mortgages too. You can take home the swell of inspiration, feeling of connection to your fellow audience members through our common thread of shared human experience, and feel-goodness that comes from participating in the arts for no extra charge.

(Although we will have free coffee available.)

Get your tickets online at www.tlguts.com, or send us an RSVP to hold your tickets at the door. No shows for held tickets will be hunted.

Call 781.715.1445 or email jocelynalmy@tlguts.com


Dance With Me

I've got a passion for what I'm doing and I feel privileged all the time.  -Nitin Sawhney

I have to admit, I had no idea who Nitin Sawhney was when I found that quote. I often use quotes to get my fingers moving across the keys. I'll have a surge of energy that swells up and makes me need to write. Sometimes I know exactly what I'm going to write when I sit down, and other times I browse through pages of quotes on the internet until I hit that one quote that defines the energy.

I know that I want to write about how amazing it feels to work in the arts field. I want to tell you that every time I see a new artist's work that I like, my pulse quickens. I have to show people the work and want them to feel that same feeling. (This is one of the many reasons I opened TLGUTS.)

I want to tell you that every time I watch a flash mob video on youtube I get choked up. I can't help myself. I think flash mobs are one of the most amazing things that have happened to the arts in recent history. Love or hate Oprah, or the Black Eyed Peas. That's beside the point. When I saw that flash mob dance video, I cried happy tears. I don't care who knows. My kids found it somewhat amusing, and a bit concerning, but there's something about THAT MANY people being creative together, moving their bodies, feeling the same pulse at the same time, that is utterly amazing to me. I am a youtube flash mob addict.

After watching a few of them, I started to become equally interested in the audience members' reactions. Some people keep on with their business, with only a quick dead glance at all the crazy people dancing in public. Most stand around with their camera phones and record the event in some way. Even more importantly, they look around to see how each other react to the whole thing with this gleam in their eyes and a smile on their face. Others, and these are my favorite people, try to get it on it, and they dance even though they don't know the moves.

Arts After Hours isn't a flash mob, but it's a public presentation of the arts that takes the coordination of a number of people feeling the same pulse and passion for the arts. As Corey, Seth and I plan these events, we are very aware that our audience is a critical component to the success of these events, and that in the end, its the experience of the artists and the audience that matters.

The audience is always a critical component to the arts. They keep the fire of the artists stoked. The sharing of music, performance, and visual arts, with an audience is a dance in itself. The artist leads, engaging their audience, hoping they respond, share their pulse, and move with them.

This upcoming Thursday, I want you to come dance with me at the Lynn Museum. I want you to smile. I want your pulse to quicken.

What Time is it Mr. Fox will be performing, as will Brown Chicken Brown Cow.  What Time Is It Mr. Fox will be performing a New England debut of new tunes; we're pretty excited about this and also pretty honored.

Sean Lobdell, Chris Barber, Steve Negron, Peter Pizzi, Alicia Churchill, Jane Coder, Daniel Arcand  and I have all made sculptures out of shoe lasts that are available through silent auction to help support the visual arts component of the AAH programming. Cheryl Pyburn, Karen Johnson, TLGUTS, Brian McDermott, and Subterranean will share their wares, and the Traveling Piano will be in the Museum courtyard for all to sit and become a part of a group arts experience. You know you want to come and play chop sticks...

I have a passion for what I do for artists and the arts, and I feel privileged to be able to do it. All I want to do man, is to get people's hearts dancing... and see the glimmer in the eyes and feel the pulse of those who never stopped.

Arts After Hours, Thursday, October 21, 7pm, Lynn Museum, $5 admission, live music, silent art auction, artist vendors, 50/50 raffle, raffle for Blue Ox and Turbine gift certificates, The Traveling Piano, Food by Fernando's, wine and Beer by Turbine, after party at Turbine. Part of the proceeds go towards The Lynn Museum's Matching Grant.


The Shoe Project

A couple of years ago I walked over to the Lynn Museum's yard sale. I love yard sales but rarely get to go because I work on Saturdays here at the gallery. I was super excited to be able to take a lunch break, walk out of the back of the building, and hit the Museum's yard sale in it's beautiful courtyard. I was more excited when I found a laundry basket full of old shoe molds for not a lot of money. I asked twice if they were sure they wanted to let it go at such a low price.

Being from The LandofNotLynn, I expected that these old shoe forms were as precious to Lynners as say, a piece of old whaling memorabilia would be to a LandOfNotLynner. Turns out, there isn't a lot of public interest in turning Lynn into a save-the-shoes town like LandOfNotLynn. There also aren't a lot of really loud, vocal, motivated parties interested in saving the old ten-footers like there is to save the cobblestone streets or other pieces or periodic charm of LandOfNotLynn.

Lynn, as it seems, has always been fed by industry. For the large part, in my opinion, Lynn's greatest asset (seconded by it's amazing wealth of natural resources) is its wealth of hard working people. Lynn really wasn't built by a certain industry as much as industry was able to be built because of Lynn's people.
And no one industry has influenced Lynn as much as industry itself, when looking at the city's start to now.

The shoe industry, however, was a biggie. And being an artist, is also the most interesting to me. I love looking at the exhibitions at the museum and seeing the old shoe designs, the Lynn Beach Painter's work, all from that period in time when Lynn was a trendsetter in foot fashion. I am a sucker for early American cottage industry type things, and the ten footers and shoe forms are right up my alley.

I thought I would make something of those shoes some day, something new, and then AAH came along. I passed the shoes out to some artists whom I both admire, have worked with in the past, and trust will redfine those forms and show the city that we are still trendsetters here in Lynn.

The hardworking people of Lynn are no longer defined by one industry, or culture of tradesmanship. While many families have been here for generations, there are influxes of new people, as there always have been, and some of us are dedicated to the creative industries. We aren't all farmers like my ancestors were when they landed in Lynn in the 1600's for a brief spell, but we're working the land here, gathering up steam for new cottage industries to take foot in the downtown.

I hear so often, "When I was a kid, it was so nice down there." Well, come back and make it nice again. Shop local, dare to help make your back yard a wholesome, safe, bustling place so your children can grow up and say with pride, "Look what we built," instead of recounting what was destroyed. That's the true Lynn spirit, isn't it?

(Note: The shoe mold sculptural pieces will be available through silent auction at the upcoming Arts After Hours event on October 21st, which will be held at The Lynn Museum. This post will be followed up in a few days with photos and artists'info.)


Belle Absente: weekly writing salons

Corey Corcoran, Allergies
Introducing the first event collaboration between The Little Gallery Under the Stairs and Subterranean: Belle Absente.

On Wednesday evenings we will be hosting miniature writing retreats. In the spirit of Oulipo's laboratory of potential literature and the Romanticist, Surrealist and Tel Quel salons that preceded it, we invite you to vigorous conversation and writing sessions, collaborations and experiments.

Work away on your own project in the company of other writers; critique and workshop sticky situations; play Exquisite Corpse or the degenerative writing/drawing parlor game Eat Poop You Cat; break out of your comfort zone with constraints of Bourbakian set theory compiled by Oulipo; come up with a piece of brilliant new writing for your next open mic performance at the Walnut Street Cafe; or spark a more organic and ongoing collaboration.

We'll provide the coffee, wi-fi, and comfy seating. You bring your choice of writing tools (and bottled inspiration if desired).

While you are here, check out Corey Corcoran's Exhibition, NUMBSKULL, open through the end of October!

Belle Absente begins October 13, 8:00 PM at TLGUTS.
Belle Absente has already begun.



I'm sitting in the gallery with Chris Barber, my new roommate. He's launching his used bookshop here at TLGUTS this Saturday, September 25th, at noon. I can't speak highly enough about him. He's brought a jolt of energy into the space and brought me back to my original vision of the gallery not just being a space where people come to show, see, and buy art work, but a place where people come to recharge, get inspired, and act.

I thought I would introduce you all to Chris and his vision.

Hey Chris, I'm going to interview you for this blog post, ok?

Me: What made you come up with the idea of opening a book store?

Chris: I just couldn't believe there wasn't a bookstore in a city of 90 thousand people. That's astonishing. It's just weird. I don't know what to think about that. And then I had all of these books to get rid of, and didn't feel like spending half of my life listing them online. But it's not like I just woke up and decided to start a business without any money. It was still just a ridiculous little idea that was going to fizzle out with all of the others until TLGUTS gave it a home.

So where did the name Subterranean come from?

Chris: TLGUTS is technically subterranean, right? Then I like the idea of it being underground in another sense, or at least acknowledging the potential for that, despite everything. There should be a thriving young DIY cultural scene here that grew out of nothing but raw spaces and dirt-cheap rent. But instead we got developers trying to skip a few steps in the gentrification of downtown. With high rents, a retail space was out of the question even though there are so many sitting vacant. So I'm taking a stab at going underground.

Me: Yeah, its subterranean. I embrace the he thought of thinking of that concept on a whole new level.
I agree with you about the development skipping steps. I wish that when the powers that be try to plan things for buildling the arts community here, that they would actually include the artists in their conversations. On the other hand, we are moving along nicely despite it all, so why worry.

Chris: Yeah, exactly. To hell with it, we can just do what we think is missing. An arts community isn't something that can be built from City Hall, or at the whim of a developer. If it's all top-down and backwards here,  I'd rather just try something else under the radar. That's what I like about your gallery. You're putting the art first. It would be great to expand on this into a collaboration to make something new. It doesn't need to be categorized.

Me: Here, here. I am really digging the collaborative part of working with you. There's strength in numbers. Even though there's just three of us down here (including Michiko), it now feels more like the organic creative community idea I had for TLGUTS.  I like the idea of getting people to come and take risks... I also love that we are open mostly at night. It really does feel cave like down here at night; it creates a good vibe for being inventive and feels separate from the outside world in a way that makes it easy to explore and push some boundaries.

Chris: Yeah, I'm having a lot of fun already, bouncing ideas back and forth about specific things we could do. Maybe some of them won't work, but that's how it goes when you're experimenting. The productive energy around you and this space is incredible. I moved here in the middle of working on a book, and had no plans to go back to art, but there I was making art again a week after getting here. Opening a used bookstore was nowhere near my list of things to do, ever, but now it seems like it just sort of happened. I'm starting to feel like I don't know what the hell is going to happen tomorrow, and I feel alive. That's the kind of experience that I'd like to collaborate with you on channeling into this space, and to do it totally recklessly.

Me: I'm glad you don't feel dead. That would be really, really bad. I don't think it's a coincidence either that I am finally making space and time for my own work since you've been here. There's only so much I can say that wouldn't sound like I'm gushing, but it is a pretty incredible feeling to work with someone who can walk as fast as I do, and someone who has the same feeling of needing to feel alive and take immediate action.

There's something to be said about the progress made via creative collaborations throughout art history. I love what Donna Dodson and Andy Moerlein are doing. There's a certain protectiveness I feel about this whole venture and also a feeling of excitement about bringing in the new audiences, and through the energy we're building, more like minded people, or people who just want to be along for the ride and enjoy and challenge themselves.

Any final thoughts?

Chris: Just that I'm looking forward to opening Subterranean this Saturday, but if I don't wear out my welcome here first, that is definitely only the beginning.


Wired to Never, Ever Come Down

"It is the function of art to renew our perception." -Anais Nin

Ah. I sit down so often and start new blogs, then just get frustrated and wonder if they will amount to anything. So I'm deciding not to do that this time. Blogging is tough for me. There are so many parts of my life that are intricately entwined, that I often think I have to edit certain things out that are irrelevant to the gallery for your sake, but I'm just not going to worry this time. Forgive me this once.

If you know me, you know that I'm not really one for small talk. I may stray off topic, but I like my topics to have some meat to them, and I tend to say what's on my mind. I don't make this claim as a braggart, or to give the impression that I'm a loose canon, I just believe our hours are numbered, so why waste them? But for some reason, I've been biting my tongue for some time now, and I've decided to stop.

videoclip, altered, JAlmy
A friend of mine recently posted videos on my facebook page from back in the day, when I was 21 or so, and performed with an industrial band down in good ol' New Beige (or New Bedford in case you're just now tuning in.) I got nostalgic for the good old days when on a Thursday night I could go down to the basement of Gallery X to Johnny's place and listen to bands rehearsing and sit and write some poetry, or catch up on local politics, then go back to a friends' house and get in an impromptu painting or history lesson, or to another friend's house and get some feedback on a few photographs or a presentation I had been working on for an exhibition. There were places to go, people to see, a community being turned upside down and shaken, a community being freed of stuffy conventions and rusty ideas.

The identity of the community which had been suffering for so long was just beginning to change at this time, with the arts, the artists and art activists at its helm.

I realize now, it's not my youth I'm missing- it's the community of artists, thinkers and tinkerers who were willing and ready to create, share, give feedback, encouragement, whatever you needed. It was like an unending well of intellectually creative stimulation and community driven activism, and I miss it and the people like a lost limb. 

Where are the rest of my fellow insomniacs who are driven to create, paint, dance without regard, wake up each morning ready to blaze, and make some noise in their community because their bones hurt and their stomachs ache if they don't?
That sort of creative engine was what I had hoped to find in Lynn. I am now slowly stumbling upon such people. When I say slowly, I mean slowly. I have been living here for nine years now and I keep meeting people as they pop their heads out from behind this organization or that group, or someone's recommendation of , "Oh, you should meet so-and-so!" Maybe I'm too impatient, but let's connect the dots a little faster so we can get things moving here. None of us are getting any younger.

Now, I'm not talking about the artists who I interact with at TLGUTS. I've met a ton of people through the gallery who are amazingly intellectually curious and stimulating people. I strive to do all I can to encourage and help support the gallery artists, many of whom I now call "friend", (you know who you are), but very few of whom are local. This call out is for my neighbors. The hidden gems I haven't yet met. Come out come out wherever you are.

I thought when coming to Lynn, that LynnArts would become more like a Gallery X, or a AS220, with classes, and a burgeoning community of people who want to see the arts alive in Lynn, but in reality it's more like a place for artists to rent space to work or show work. It's a building that needs people. Buildings don't build community. People build community. People connecting in meaningful ways build community. People who live with meaning build community by changing what's not working and develop new ways of connecting.

These connections, these changes in perception, need to happen on a large scale, throughout Lynn and the North Shore, to build this community. 

A building is just a place people visit, an institution, unless those involved put their own touch to it; only then does it become a home for the arts. LynnArts needs more people involved who are not only trying to rebuild the economy of the downtown, but those looking to breath some life into the community by challenging perceptions of this community's identity, and by offering opportunities for people to challenge themselves.  That's what I hope TLGUTS becomes for this community. It's not only a gallery, its a place where people can meet off hours and connect and work and  thrive collectively, on numerous levels.

So where are you, my people? I've met some of you over at SPEAK UP, some of you here at TLGUTS, some of you upstairs in the LynnArts galleries, and my friend Alicia brought me over to Walnut Street Cafe where Don White is sparking up another coffee house type event on Sunday nights. Some of you are over at Turbine. Some of you I've met out on the street, or in community meetings.

I'm looking for the heartbeat now. Where is the heartbeat of the arts community? We are spread out all over the place, which is great, but let's meet in the middle. I'll be at Arts After Hours on Thursday night. I'm at the gallery a few nights a week and on Saturdays. Seek me out. If you can't come, drop me a line. Send smoke signals. I'll do my best to get out to your gig.

Lynn needs to rise again from the ashes, my friends. It's time.Get involved.

...feeding from the common sound 
throwing words round and round, 
wired to never, ever come down,
with my pride in my pocket
and my voice still so soft it
can take any shape that I need it to be ...

-J Almy


Arts After Hours

On August 12th, I'm throwing a backyard bash with Corey Jackson and Seth Albaum right behind the gallery in the Lynn Museum park.  That's this Thursday, so mark it down.

Daniel Arcand
For the past few years, LynnArts, the Chamber of Commerce, the Lynn Item and others put together programming called "Third Thursdays" in downtown Lynn. I loved Third Thursdays, but they weren't really about art. There were pizza tasting events, dog parades, road races, haunted houses, etc. Don't get me wrong, my family attended almost all of them, and we loved going, but they weren't about art, save for the band that usually ended up playing in the background with few listening, and the dancers who performed during the international festival event. The only people who really put a heavy focus on art was RAW, each time opening up for children to create a piece or draw out on the street with chalk (one of my favorite things to do at Third Thursday events).

Michiko Imai
Finally, the program flopped with the partners going back to their respective corners, each picking their favorite event, and doing it on their own. The problem I have with this is that whether or not Third Thursdays was successful for the institutions, it was successful in many other regards. The events brought people out to the street to engage with each other in a meaningful way. They brought people downtown to see the new developments and to see that the neighborhood had changed, encouraging people to come back and take part in the heart of their community. It also pushed out those people who would like to see it turn back to ten years ago when everything was boarded up and people could go about their illicit business like no body's business.

When Third Thursdays went away, so did many of the families who had just started returning to the downtown. The commentators in the local paper started posting things like "Lynn isn't an artsy-fartsy town" or "nothing good goes on in downtown Lynn at night."  Arts After Hours is our response to the naysayers, and also a step away from the the reliance on local institutions which are financially stunted from the recession to join in on the atmosphere of creativity, celebration, and livelihood that is popping up all over the city between exhibitions, studio spaces, coffee houses, concerts, movie nights, etc. Lynn is, indeed, an artsy-fartsy CITY, we just haven't really been too loud about it.

Sean Lobdell
So, Lynn Artists Voices Alliance was formed to see what could be done, and from that, Arts After Hours was born.

We all went back and forth between calling the event Artsy-Fartsy and After Hours. I think we made a pretty good decision, but we need your artsy-fartsy self down to Central Square this Thursday to join the rebellion against the naysayers who would have us pretend that Lynn is going to stay just the way their lazy butts have liked it all these years.

When someone draws a line in the sand, it's in all of our natures to cross it, well, at least it is in mine and I'm pretty sure Seth and Corey's as well. They say Lynn is a dormant city because all they can see from where they are standing is the swell; the real storm has been building and the first waves are only just now starting to come to shore... We're ready to ride the waves, are you?

So, this Thursday night we have a bunch of artists coming to show you a sampling of their work, we have a couple of bands, and a fire performance art group. You'll have to go check out the website to get all of the names and info: http://www.artsafterhours.com. My favorite wine bar will also be serving up some of their stash, but it's the good stuff, peeps. We'll also have finger foods and some non-alcohol beverages.

Rumor has it that the next Arts After hours event is going to be pretty bad ass too, with some major twists on what you're used to. So show up and give us a reason to keep going, that's all we're getting out of this, is reasons, so keep them coming. Half of the proceeds are going to the Lynn Museum, for letting us use their space, and the other half is going towards the next event.

Bring your lawn chairs, bring your backyard fun and games, and bring your friends!

More about the artists coming soon.


Building the Arts: No Red Pens!

Over the past fifteen years, I have been actively studying and participating in the arts administration field as an independent artist, curator, gallery owner and activist. I do this work and research first and foremost because it is something that I am passionate about. To me, the arts portray those elements of our nature that make us human.

Education is my second passion. The MEd in Arts and Learning program at Endicott College gave me a well rounded view into the many different art forms and how they can be used in education. I advocate strongly for the use of the arts not only as a tool to enhance the core subjects, but for their own sake.

Years ago, I participated in a weekend long retreat at UMass Amherst through Americans for the arts. We took a nice field trip to Mass MOCA and listened to a number of lectures on how to bring the arts into communities as a source of economic rejuvenation. One of the things I learned while there was that sometimes the greatest opposition to economic recovery through the arts is the people who have lived in the community for generations and saw the downward spiral of economic infrastructure of their hometown.

One of the key components of the hesitation was a lack of exposure to the arts. When a community struggles fiscally, the arts are often the first to go in the schools as they are mistakenly not seen as critical to the historic public education model based on the Essentialism philosophy and approach to education, which was based on the Greek philosophers, who we all know were very much involved with arts. They lived and breathed in communities where the arts flourished. When you have even one generation missing out on an arts education, the effects can last for generations.

I continually hear, or shall I say read, that Lynn is not an "artsy-fartsy" town. Lynn enjoyed a booming time when theaters were flourishing, shops were full, and the city itself was a destination. I think people forget sometimes that the arts are not just about paintings hanging on a wall, or kids playing with color. The arts encompass a myriad of creative expressions, including dance, music, storytelling, theater, writing, architecture, the visual arts, and more. Lynn, historically, was indeed an "artsy-fartsy' town.

Normally, during the annual Lynn Public School's All City exhibition that is held at LynnArts, all three of the galleries overflow with art. This year, while two of the galleries were full, I noticed what can only be perceived as a limited access to materials, time and quantity. The art work itself was beautiful. The teachers are to be commended for what they are doing with the students in lean times. However, I am concerned about the shrinking number of pieces that were exhibited and whether that reflects a diminishing support for the arts in the schools.

While I want to see the arts in Lynn take off right now, right this instant, I also understand that building a base of art enthusiasts and supporters for the future is also vitally important. The schools are key in that development. We need to support arts education in the public schools of Lynn for multiple reasons, not just for the art community.

Did You Know?
Young people who participate in the arts for at least three hours on three days each week through at least one full year are:

* 4 times more likely to be recognized for academic achievement
* 3 times more likely to be elected to class office within their schools
* 4 times more likely to participate in a math and science fair
* 3 times more likely to win an award for school attendance
* 4 times more likely to win an award for writing an essay or poem

Young artists, as compared with their peers, are likely to:

* Attend music, art, and dance classes nearly three times as frequently
* Participate in youth groups nearly four times as frequently
* Read for pleasure nearly twice as often
* Perform community service more than four times as often

("Living the Arts through Language + Learning: A Report on Community-based Youth Organizations," Shirley Brice Heath, Stanford University and Carnegie Foundation For the Advancement of Teaching, Americans for the Arts Monograph, November 1998)

The facts are that arts education...

* makes a tremendous impact on the developmental growth of every child and has been proven to help level the "learning field" across socio-economic boundaries
(Involvement in the Arts and Success in Secondary School, James S. Catterall, The UCLA Imagination Project, Graduate School of Education & Information Studies, UCLA, Americans for the Arts Monograph, January 1998)

* has a measurable impact on at-risk youth in deterring delinquent behavior and truancy problems while also increasing overall academic performance among those youth engaged in afterschool and summer arts programs targeted toward delinquency prevention

(YouthARTS Development Project, 1996, U.S. Department of Justice, National Endowment for the Arts, and Americans for the Arts)

Businesses understand that arts education...

* builds a school climate of high expectation, discipline, and academic rigor that attracts businesses relocating to your community
* strengthens student problem-solving and critical thinking skills, adding to overall academic achievement and school success
* helps students develop a sense of craftsmanship, quality task performance, and goal-setting—skills needed to succeed in the classroom and beyond
* can help troubled youth, providing an alternative to destructive behavior and another way for students to approach learning
* provides another opportunity for parental, community, and business involvement with schools, including arts and humanities organizations
* helps all students develop more appreciation and understanding of the world around them
* helps students develop a positive work ethic and pride in a job well done

(Business Circle for Arts Education in Oklahoma, "Arts at the Core of Learning 1999 Initiative")

To make the arts Renaissance work in downtown Lynn, amongst other things, there need to be points of accessibility for those who are unfamiliar with the creative economy to enter the conversation comfortably. That means making price points for paid venues accessible to families who survive within the economic median of the community. It also means that the quality of the offerings and a welcoming atmosphere should also be key considerations.

LynnArts, RAW Art Works, The Lynn Museum and Historical Society and The Little Gallery under the Stairs* all offer free access to the arts, and to high quality arts programming. Not every program or event is free, understandably, because there are bills that accompany programming, staff that needs to be paid to pull it all together, and buildings that need to be maintained. Most programs that are fee based are very affordable, and often negotiable for those who want to participate but need a break.

The next step would be to design programs that are relevant to the community. The Museum and RAW, of course, do this by nature. The LynnArts galleries have annual exhibitions for members and the Lynn Public Schools, which are relevant to the local community directly as they celebrate the arts of local community members and children. The contemporary art exhibitions hosted by LynnArts and The Little Gallery under the Stairs are not necessarily always aimed specifically at local interests, but are relevant to all in that they are accessible and address contemporary ideas and sensibilities through subject, medium, ingenuity, etc.

The bones are here to have a thriving cultural center, as the downtown of Lynn was in the past, we just need to keep putting some muscle on those bones, starting with awareness and support from the top. I encourage the school committee, and city hall, during this time of budget crisis and cuts, to be aware of the importance of the arts and take it easy on those few culture related lines when they bring out the red pens. The children need the arts to receive whole educations, and if what we are building here in downtown is to have a future, we need the children to grow up in a culturally enriched environment that includes proper arts education.

*These are just a few of the arts orgs in the city, more on others to come soon....



This week, The Little Gallery under the Stairs will be hosting it's second Lynn LAVA meeting. LAVA, or Lynn Artists' Voices Alliance, is a group starting to join together the creative voices of Lynn. Lynn has a central organization that works to join the Lynn creative community, LynnArts Inc., which works to promote culture and the creative economy in Lynn. LAVA is a group meant to bring together the artists of Lynn on a regular basis to network, learn about upcoming opportunities in the community, and cohesively give voice to the artists and creative thinkers who reside or work in Lynn.

There have been a number of developments over the years, as cited in my last blog. This group also aims to encourage further growth within the arts community as well as increase visibility and opportunities for individual artists and those groups which already exist within the community.

LAVA meetings will be fairly informal, with opportunity for everyone to share their concerns, ideas, and accomplishments. At this second meeting, we will begin by announcing upcoming opportunities and then have an open forum for individuals to speak and exchange ideas.

To RSVP, or to add anything specific to the agenda, please contact me.


The Arts Come Alive

Downtown Lynn has been the gallery's home for the past four years. In those four years, I have been asked a million times, "Why Lynn? Why not Rockport, or Boston, or any other place?" My answer is that every community not only deserves, but needs, a thriving arts community. When I got here, LynnArts and RAW had already opened the floodgates for the rest of us. They moved in when others wouldn't. The foundation for such a community was built, and (sadly) I believed that Lynn had no place to go but up. I wanted in. Who doesn't want to be in on the ground floor of something amazing?

Since the opening of the gallery:
  • The Lynn City Auditorium has opened.
  • LynnArts has continued their gallery and community programming and is now upgrading it's black box theater to include a professional lighting track and stadium seating for smaller and more intimate performances than could be housed at the auditorium.
  • RAW has purchased and transformed their space making it more visually accessible from the street for all those who pass by and enter.
  • Gulu-Gulu, which exhibited art work, moved in and out.
  • Turbine Wine Bar, has moved in - with art work by local Sean Lobdell.
  • The Blue Ox has a fantastic collection of original paintings hanging on their walls.
  • LYNNHappens media guru Seth has begun to interview artists for his publication.
  • An opera group, Mass Theatrica, has made a home in the LynnArts building.
  • The steel drum Pan Jammers have a space right across the hall from me, and I have the pleasure of hearing them every Saturday (come stop by and you can listen too).
  • There's a place down across from the Salvation Army, "Fernando's" that is showing Brian Joyce's work.
  • The hair salon Zensationals, which is a little further up the street from the core downtown area, regularly exhibits the art work of previous TLGUTS exhibitor, Trinidad Martinez, amongst others.
  • The Lydia Pinkham building has gone through major renovations and boasts a growing artists community.
  • There is a new little space over near Capitol Diner filled with paintings - not sure what's going on in there, but go check it out.
  • Katerina started a Lynn Concepts blog including urban planning ideas and more.
  • People are writing blogs like nobody's business.
  • The Lynn Museum and LynnArts have both hosted musical events, exhibitions, and more.
  • Third Thursdays brought Central Square to life every Thursday night for years.
  • A break dancing group started at LynnArts
  • Building Bridges Hymnal Group secured a new space at LynnArts
  • Master Calligrapher Michiko Imai opened the Michiko Imai Studio at TLGUTS and began offering traditional calligraphy studio workshops.
Did I forget anything? (Sorry, it's pretty late and I've had a long day!)
Add it to the comments section below! Let's make this list grow and keep on growing!

In a nut shell, people in Lynn are catching on. The arts are important. There are people making and sharing work and ideas. There are also people traveling to Lynn to see those works and listen. This past year, over 70% of those who visited TLGUTS drove a half hour or more to get to the gallery. Many came from different states! People are paying attention.

We've exhibited over 200 artists over the past four years, greeted thousands of unique guests, have people from all over the world connecting to us via the web site and learning about Lynn for the first time, and it just keeps getting better.

Let's keep this going. Together. We are hosting a four year birthday party on April 9th at the gallery, which is also the closing reception for our VOICES: Mothers Who Create Exhibition, from 7-10pm. This event is NOT open to the public, you must email us and be put on our guest list. Sorry folks, but we are limited by our size, so email me soon. The list is getting full.

So why Lynn? Because I moved here to take part in the Renaissance of a community of diverse people, knowing that the one thing that can lift a city as diverse as this one is finding a common ground amongst us all, and celebrating it. Through the arts, we need to make the noise of celebrating our common humanity, our accomplishments, our positivity, our resourcefulness, and our pride -- so loud that it scares and scatters those who would try to stop us.

If you know me at all, then you know that I love a good challenge. I play to win. Once I put my mind to something, try and stop me. I am determined to do everything in my power to keep the arts alive in Lynn, to support my artists, my art community, and to continue to advocate for Lynn as an arts destination. Courtside is filling up, the ball is rolling and we need more players. Step up and play.


The Big Picture: Double Feature Movie Screening

The Little Art Gallery Under the Stairs (TLGUTS) in Lynn, MA, will host a double feature movie screening on Saturday, February 27th, 2010, from 2-5pm. Films included in this screening event are “FEMLink, Fragility”, and “Who Does She Think She Is?”. This screening is part of three months of arts programming focusing on women and mothers in the arts.

Fragility”, is the first in a series of films created by FEMLink: The International Film Collage. The film, a collage of two minute videos created by seventeen different women artists from seventeen different countries, is focused on the theme “Fragility”. Artistic Director C.M. Judge will introduce the film and host a discussion immediately following the screening.

Utilizing a simple structure-- one woman video artist per country – Judge and Sapin annually invite an international array of artists to create a two-minute video based on a common theme. To date, 42 artists from 42 different countries have been involved with this project which has been screened in galleries and theaters across Europe, North America, South America, and the Middle East. The films were also recently acquired by the National Gallery of Prague. Gallery director Jocelyn Almy-Testa says, “Lynn is the perfect place to host a screening for this film project. With the number of countries represented by Lynn residents topping the 80 mark at my last inquiry with the Lynn librarians, we truly are a melting pot of cultures. This film not only fits with the gallery's current program of supporting women artists, but also ties nicely into the Lynn community which is deeply rooted in the idea of people from all over the world coming together to create a rich community of cultural diversity and collaboration.”

The second film being screened at this event, “Who Does She Think She Is?”, by Pamela T. Boll, focuses on artists who are also mothers. The producing team that won an Academy Award for Born Into Brothels, gives us Who Does She Think She Is?, examining some of the most pressing issues of our time: parenting and work, partnering and independence, economics and art.

The film follows five women artists as they navigate the economic, psychological, and spiritual challenges of making work outside theelite art world. From Hawaii’s Big Island to the suburbs of Ohio, from New York City to the deserts of New Mexico, we watch as these women—ranging in age from 27 to 65—fight to honor their vision and their families every day.

Gallery director Jocelyn Almy-Testa states, “Who Does She Think She Is? is not only relevant to mothers -- it is relevant to any person who is trying to shape their lives in a meaningful way. It is relevant to every working parent, and every person who must divide their time between their responsibilities towards those they love and their careers.”

Prior to and following this event, the TLGUTS gallery's current exhibition, VOICES: Mothers Who Create II will be open for viewers. Tickets include both films and a discussion with director C.M. Judge. Doors open at 1:30 and the screenings will start promptly at 2pm.

Tickets cost $15 and include both films and a talk by FEMLink's artistic director, C.M. Judge. Tickets are available on-line through the gallery website, www.tlguts.com, and can be purchased at the gallery.

This event is sponsored in part by the Massachusetts Local Cultural Council, Stainless Communications, Soraya Cacici, Remax Realtor, DTLna.org and LynnHappens.com.

The Little Gallery Under The Stairs opened in June, 2006 in the lower level of the LynnArts Building in Central Square, Lynn, MA.

TLGUTS is a privately owned gallery committed to exhibiting fine art and high craft which communicates a personal story, journey, or point of view.

The VOICES:Mothers Who Create exhibit is on display at The Little Art Gallery Under the Stairs through April 10, 2010. The gallery is located in the lower level of LynnArts Inc., 25 Exchange Street, Lynn, MA 01901. Gallery hours: Thursdays 6:30-8:30pm by appointment, and Saturdays 10-6pm. The gallery is free and open to the public.

For more info, email: jocelynalmy@tlguts.com, call 781-715-1445 or visit http://www.tlguts.com/

Printable (.pdf) directions:http://www.lynnarts.org/Directions%20to%20LynnArts%20Inc.pdf

Parking: There is street parking adjacent to and in front of LynnArts. The building is accessible to people with handicaps including parking at the back of the building with ramp entry, elevator, and accessible facilities. Please call ahead for assistance.

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TLGUTS Receives Grant for Mothers Who Create

I would like to publicly thank the Massachusetts Local Cultural Council for awarding The Little Gallery under the Stairs a grant in support of the VOICES: Mothers Who Create exhibition.

The receipt of this grant means a lot to us not only financially, but also for the public recognition of the hard work we do here at TLGUTS and the importance of acknowledging women and mothers who are artists.

As we embark on another year of gallery programming here at TLGUTS, we are resoundingly aware of the difficult financial situation that arts agencies and artists are facing, which makes that grant all the more appreciated. Alternative galleries like ours are facing a difficult prospect to keep afloat until the economy rebounds at the ground level.

Just imagine if in 2010, all of the small alternative galleries in Massachusetts like The Little Gallery under the Stairs closed. What would the new landscape of our art community look like?

Over the past three and a half years, in our little space, we have exhibited and promoted works of nearly two hundred artists (either on our walls or through other venues), focusing on exhibitions which celebrate shared human experiences and encourage creative dialog, and have continued to help promote and support artists long after their work comes off our walls.

Here are a few of opportunities that our artists have gained through their exhibitions at TLGUTS:
  • solo exhibition opportunities
  • invitations to become members of artist associations
  • opportunities to sell work through private sales
  • teaching/employment opportunities
  • features in publications
  • U.S. Visa renewal support
  • ongoing career support and promotion long after their work leaves the gallery
and more...

Our services and relationships with our artists are not the only things that we value here at TLGUTS. We also make every effort to ensure that our visitors feel welcome and a part of the conversation the artists propose through their exhibitions.

With every exhibition and program, our gallery audiences (both artists and viewers) expand. We have experienced a lot of growth over the past year, making it impossible for me to run the gallery by myself any longer.

To that end, I have brought together a wonderful advisory team with whom I will meet after the new year. In addition, Jeffrey Testa, my husband and long-time creative collaborator has officially joined TLGUTS as a business partner.

Jeff has been working as an applications specialist and web developer for the past twelve years. His current day job is as a member of Boston Children Hospital's Webby and MITX recognized IT team.

Jeff also has a background in fine arts, earning his BFA in Photo Electronic Imagery through UMass Dartmouth where he also pursued printmaking and metals.

2010 promises to bring more growth and programming, as we look forward to the second Mother's exhibition titled VOICES, and its complimentary programming including a film screening of FEMLink by C.M. Judge, a dance performance by Encore, and more.

Please consider joining the Massachusetts Cultural Council by supporting the gallery with a contribution today, or by becoming a volunteer at TLGUTS. 100% of all contributions will be used towards gallery programming.

If you're reading this from afar, consider donating to your local art or cultural center!

Thank you for supporting the preservation of the North Shore art community's landscape by supporting TLGUTS. We look forward to seeing you again soon at the gallery.


TLGUTS Founder and Director

*we are not a non-profit organization, so at this time, gifts are not tax-deducatable.