Artist Socials

 Come out , come out, wherever you are!

We're throwing you a holiday office party. Well, really, we're just having one of the coolest smoothest bands around, Harvey Mapcase (Listen to "Three on a Match") , play for you at Turbine this Friday night, to kick off our first "Artist Social". 

We're going to do these events every month, starting with the Holiday Social, as a way for artists, collectors, collaborators, administrators, supporters, city officials, etc., to get together in the same room without overhead projectors, without surveys, and without limitations, and talk, chat, network, share ideas, spread some inspiration round', and keep those fires going!

Please RSVP and spread the word.

Friday, December 16th,
7pm - 9pm :: socialize, have a bite to eat, network
9pm -close :: Harvey Mapcase and shenanigans ensue

Bring your cards and holiday cheer!


Rest - Logging the Miles

Yesterday I finished the B.A.A. Half Marathon with over 5000 other runners. It was a good course, with lots of hills and shade, and even a short bit through the Franklin Park Zoo. It was my first half marathon. I had two set goals for the race and I accomplished them both. It was a good day.

I loved the moments before the race spent with my friend Nigel, who has been pulling me along through the training process. We drove to the race with our friend George, and another couple. Even though we were all running the same course, we all had different goals for ourselves. We were all running our own race.

When I was 13 and on my high school cross country team, I could barely bring myself to finish a less than three mile race. I always went out too hard, too fast, then would have nothing left to finish the race. I didn't set attainable goals for myself according to my own abilities. I just wanted to run hard and keep up with the more experienced runners. Of course, I couldn't. I hadn't logged the miles.

One of the most crucial things I have learned through training for this race is that rest is a necessary tool that I have never employed. I always want to push further and harder. Prior to this sabbatical, I didn't take breaks; I didn't say no to new projects, and I didn't see the havoc this pace was wreaking on my body and personal well being.

Last fall, I nearly collapsed. I ended up in the emergency room with one of my best friends beside me offering me an I-told-you-so glance and a quiet helpful hand. My adrenal gland was on overcharge, my hair started falling out in handfuls, and I lost a ton of weight. I have been trying to figure out a sustainable life pace ever since.

While running the 13.1 yesterday, I listened to my own needs and I was able to go the distance. I also paid attention to the runners around me.  I didn't throw my water cups near anyone. When I needed to take it a little slower because I was overdoing it in the heat, I made sure I didn't slow down in front of anyone who was coming up behind me. I moved to the side and let them pass.

I walked at water stations to make sure I got all the nutrients I needed to keep going. With one kidney in 80 degree weather, overdoing it was not an option. I walked with my hands up a couple of times when the swelling was too much until my hands stopped throbbing. That's ok. Important thing is that those little breaks allowed me to continue. By the end of the race, some of the runners who passed me were stopped on the side of the road, others were walking, and others were in the medical tent at the eleventh mile. others were running along side me. Some passed me, and others moved out of my way when they sensed me approaching. It was great to see other runners affording me the same courtesy of moving to the side and being courteous to not throw their gu when I was passing them.

Pushing myself to the point of injury or collapse is no longer an option. Knowing my limits, and planning to overcome them through dedication, continual training, and practice will keep me going. Rest will allow me to finish.

Right now, I'm resting. I'm reflecting, learning, and planning my new course. 

The work I started years ago through TLGUTS... helping to create a scene for visual artists in my home town of Lynn continues. I'm filling my cup, pacing myself, and planning to go the distance. And I'm not listening to the bystanders who are yelling, “there's only 400 meters left, dig deep, push harder!”, when I know there's a mile.

The last eight years of my life have been something like those early cross country races. The next eight, I plan to spend differently.

I've logged the miles.


Graffiti IS Art

New Bedford's Third Eye Unlimited Festival
I read in the Lynn Item today that Lynn is trying to combat the graffiti problem.

Full article:

At the bottom of the article, they actually start to show the beginnings of understanding that graffiti is an art form:

Ward 5 Councilor Brendan Crighton is working on his own anti-graffiti project along with Community Development Director James Marsh and RawArts. Crighton said a group of young artists competed for the right to paint the large control boxes located in several different spots in downtown.

Crowley likes the idea. He is hoping that if the boxes are painted by local artists, “the vandals, or artists as they refer to themselves,” will be discouraged from painting over another artist’s work.

I love the project that is going to happen downtown. The more public art, the better in my opinion. I can't wait to see what the end results will be. 

I do however have a small problem with Crowley's quote. As I have been misquoted in newspapers many times myself, I'm going to assume he said something slightly different because I like the guy.

Yes, graffiti artists are artist. Yes, there are some in Lynn. They, like most of the artists in Lynn, do not have a forum for their work. By tradition, they work on sides of buildings, hidden locals that are hard to get to, etc., and often do it illegally.

I personally don't want anyone tagging my property without my permission, and I really don't want gang tags on my house, so I understand the frustration. I'm not pro-gang tags, nor do I want crappy tagging and graffiti all over my city. But I do want a place for the real graffiti artists to show their skills so that a level of education about this art form can start to take place on a city-wide level, and so that we can all come up with a way to create more opportunities for graffiti artists to get to work in a serious manner.

I also know that the taggers who are new need something to aspire to so that they can hone their skills,  have more respect for their city and how to keep working in a community minded way. Having skilled artists do their work publicly will allow the newbies to learn a thing or two, talk to the artists, and take themselves and their craft a little more seriously.

Simply wiping out their art work isn't going wipe out the true artists' urge to make their marks.

I was just at 3rd Eye Unlimited festival this past weekend in New Bedford and took the pics below. Let's get this to happen here and give people an extra outlet!


Carrying on the party through ROCK*STAR Nation

My Rock Star Days with Big Nurse, Many Moons Ago
My friend Alicia and I go through periods when one of us will feel that all is well in the world, and our creative energy levels are through the roof.  I'm sure you go through this too. Sometimes we are in that state together, and other times, we use our abundance of what we call "rock rock status" to lift the other to the same level of feeling awesome.

After my grandfather passed away a couple of weeks ago, I was bound and determined not to let myself fall apart. At his burial, my Uncle Billy told the story about how my grandfather and one of his relatives agreed that whoever outlived the other had to throw a huge party. Both men are now gone, and my Uncle Billy challenged the rest of us to continue the party.

I gave myself a couple of days to get whatever tears and feelings of self pity out and then decided to move forward and honor that part of my grandfather's spirit that I cherished the most when he was raising me. His belief that we can all be high achievers and be the best at what we do if we push ourselves is one of the best things he ever gave me. I felt closest to him when I was an athlete. I feel my best when I am competing. I re-immersed myself in my running passion as my own version of carrying on the party.

Because synchronicity is so abundant in this world, I sought out people who were on the same path. I found Magda Cardosa. I remembered her from high school, knew she was close with a few of my family members, and also that she is a kick-ass athlete and super runner. At the same time that I decided to start training, she started ROCK*STAR nation. It's a virtual group of people who decided to make July the best month of their lives. It's a 30 day commitment to get your body strong, spirituality in order, and nutrition in check. I signed up, started training, feel better than I have in years, and am registered for a 5k and a half marathon.

So what does this have to do with art? I decided to tie my artistic training in with my running. Everything I do to train for the races, I am doing with my art as well. Run for an hour, write for an hour. Weight train for an hour, sketch for an hour.

Artists are mental athletes. We need to hone our skills, feed and nurture our imaginations, rest when restless, take part in social activities to keep ourselves motivated and energized towards our goals, and test our training through performances, or exhibitions.

So my next steps towards becoming an art rock star are
: continue training/honing my skills
: get out and see others' work to feed and nurture my imagination
: take one day a week off for rest
: keep moving forward with the salon to create a group of artists for support and accountability
: to look forward and find venues to test the waters with my work.

The next salon will be on Sunday, August 7th. Bring your rock star mentality! Walnut Street Cafe, 10 am. Bring three artistic goals to share, develop and make executable. We're going to MAGDA the art world.

*We'll also be moving around to people's studios if you are interested in hosting at your studio on the North Shore, drop me a line.


Quick Poem


If ever I was a woman
I am a woman fully
torn between motherhood
and marriage
and passionate pursuits
and the livelihood
of my imagination.


Let your work define your audience, not the other way around.

The only work really worth doing- the only work you can do convincingly- is the work that focuses on the things you care about.   (Art and Fear, Bayle & Orlando, 1993, p.116)

Staring at the screen tonight. Thinking of all sorts of things I would love to write about, things I care about. Yesterday I was having a conversation with a close friend and the subject of my blog audience came up. Ah, this is what happens when you just start free flow writing. You start at point a and end up at q with a quickness....

I've been free here with my thoughts and ideas. I honestly don't track who reads my blog unless someone subscribes to it or leaves a comment. That's the nature of the beast. I guess I could get technical and start zoning in on my logistics and get geeky, but I don't want to. I know many of the artists I've worked with read the blog, some local people, my family... beyond that, I just don't think too much about it. I just write. And when people write back, I like it. That's it.

My writing is one of my art forms. This blog is a publication of short essays, and those writings and musings of mine that relate to TLGUTS and my own creative ventures and personal realizations.  I have it listed under TLGUTS, because I see TLGUTS as my artistic outlet. It's all the same ball of yarn to me. If I write about my work, it's because my work is my life, my life is my work.

Back to the discussion about audience. Audience is always a critical component to artistic works. There's audience development, audience maintenance, audience participation, audience growth, audience feedback,  and all sorts of considerations of audience when it comes to the arts. I think my friend was considering a key component of my audience in our conversation. My friend thought I should write with more consideration for a certain subset of my audience and think about how they perceived my blog.

I don't consider individuals when I write unless I am writing about them, like my recent musings about my grandfather. I write with a broad stroke.  I write toward an idea, toward a tone, toward a feeling, and want whoever is reading the work to catch that feeling as well.  Ultimately though, for most artists, sharing finished works is an ultimate goal.

When I create artistic programming or curate shows, I create with a storyteller's mind. What's the beginning, middle and end? What are the rich details and important supporting subplots that mixed together make the event or exhibition savory? I define the elements and qualities of the work that make the work worth sharing. Then I find ways to execute. There is always consideration that the work will be shared with an audience when I am programming, but audience development is not always the end goal of my writing. With my writing, I try to achieve audience maintenance through authenticity. That's it.

I do try to please myself because I can be pretty hard to please. If it passes my own test, it goes in. If not, it becomes one of the hundred or so unpublished blog pieces or exhibition ideas no one ever sees or hears about. Maybe this one will join the list. Who knows.

What I do know, is that I do not edit my art work out of fear that it may make people perceive me in a certain light. What I do not do, is edit the subject matter of my writing to appease other people at the expense of my own authenticity. I also do not ever write to intentionally be cruel or hurtful. Mostly, I try to inspire people to get out from whatever is holding them back from taking the next step towards being better than what they are today, and to get more people out here with me living out-loud. Most of the time, that is what I am doing myself.

So if you've come here looking for a word or two about someone living a creative life on their life on their own terms... welcome. You are my audience. 

If we start limiting ourselves creatively to exclusively fit into an agenda or a limited audience, at the expense of doing what we love, we are boxing ourselves in. Who can live like that? Do what you love to do; write about what makes you tick. Create with the idea in mind. Put it out into the world. You will find an audience. Live authentically. Create authentically. Do it again and again and again. Just don't stop. And don't edit yourself into that box.

Suggested reading: Toni Morrison, The Big Box.


Building Foundations

If you have built castles in the air,
your work need not be lost; that is where they should be.
Now put the foundations under them.
-Henry David Thoreau

This past week, I spent a few days out in North Adams at Mass MOCA learning about different Creative Communities throughout New England. I learned about tools to help develop creative communities, models of creative community programs which can be replicated, toured artist living work spaces and galleries, walked through a community and discovered different walkability ideas, ate great food, reconnected with colleagues, met new people who I am sure will prove to be great resources, saw amazing work, and more. It was a fantastic week.

This weekend, I spent Saturday reconnecting with my kids and husband at my brother's "Super Classy" wedding party. It was a summer backyard cookout type event, one of our family's many backyard bashes that are held throughout the summer every year. He recently married and bought a new house that's located at the end of a beautiful street that abuts New Bedford's Buttonwood Park. The wall you see above is the back of a business that is located next door and faces the perpendicular street.

Every time I am in their back yard, my brain races with images of murals or different ideas that I would love to put on that wall. Actually doing something would mean sketching, approval of the property owners and my brother and sister-in-law, supplies, commutes, weather cooperation, etc. So I just dream about it. I don't have the time or resources for another big project.

At the party we ate typical cookout fair, including a bologna cake made by my godmother, which you really have to experience to understand. The kids, loaded up on the wedding cupcakecake and chips and soda and juice, quickly started the rush of activities needed to work out the "beginning of the summer" willies. Tag, sliding on every conceivable structure with a tilt, sneaking tv time inside the house and making parents chase them, football and baseball were the key activities.

After the kids finished hitting all of the whiffle balls on top of the roof or into a nearby gutter, they started to draw on the sidewalk with chalk. They traced themselves on the ground with chalk. The adults did some graffiti; the kids ground the chalk into the sidewalk into palettes of color. Then the magic happened.

It was quite a thing to experience. They realized that when they stepped on the areas of walkway that were heavily loaded with chalk, that they could leave foot prints.  So they purposefully ground the chalk into the ground to use as stamp pads. They started making footprints everywhere. Then someone spilled water on the chalk. They started making handprints on the ground by dipping their hands into the muddied pigment. Then they started mixing colors a d trying to find different objets to use as stamps, i.e., shoes, leaves, hands, etc.

One brave, innovative child ran over to the huge blank canvas with a smile on their face and daring in their heart and stamped her hands on that wall. Then they all joined in. In a melee of running and dipping hands and mixing colors, and laughing and spirited celebration of spontaneous creativity, group process and disregard of consequence, a group of children created a mural that was as beautiful in its final stage as it was in its creation.

And, it washes off.

We all work with hesitations and wanting to make things perfect and permanent. Truth is, nothing is perfect and nothing is permanent. Life is messy.

But if you don't stamp your hands on the wall at all, all you will end up doing is dreaming by yourself.

At one of the workshops that I went to this weekend, Kevin Sprague from Studio 2 got up and spoke about design tools for communication. He told us to actually not over think design. He said to focus on the message. The point is to communicate.  He said not to worry about spelling mistakes or the little things. Be messy. Just get the message out.

Don't worry about being perfect. Get out there. Get messy. Be brave. Build your castle in the clouds.

The foundation is already there. It's you.



My shortest blog post ever:

Q: Are you going to change the name of TLGUTS?

A: No. It Takes Lots of GUTS to be an artist.

I know it's a tough idea to think of an organization without literal walls, but that's what we are now. No walls = No limitations or boundaries.


Running Towards a Sabbatical

Taking a sabbatical was a tough decision. It took me a long while to make the decision. This past weekend I was at a fundraiser on a track in Sommerville. It was one of those red spongy tracks that only the colleges and richer communities had when I was in high school. Our track was like cement.
Even if you wore spikes, you couldn't really dig in to the track and get the good push you needed to achieve your best times. It had its limitations.

I ran and walked for about an hour as a part of the fundraiser, but at one point, the jumping pits called to me. I had to jump. I brought my daughter out and showed her the long jump. She had remarkable running form and was used to jumping and timing her steps from gymnastics. She jumped as far as I did without even lifting her legs. I showed her the stages of the triple jump. I ran and jumped as hard and far as I could.  I did it again, and again, wanting to force my legs to take on their old speed and strength through sheer will. I felt old.

It dawned on me that I haven't been following my grandfather's advice at all. I haven't been running my best race, or even my own race for that matter. I haven't been running at all. I haven't had time to run, or jump, or play in a really long time. I have been holding on to the premise that if I just keep working, I will eventually get to a finish line.

I don't want to get to a finish line. I want to keep running. 

I preferred a more well rounded approach to track and field. I tried the javelin when I had a torn hamstring. I hurdled. I long jumped, triple jumped and high jumped. I sprinted. I ran cross country.  I ran in relays. Some things I did better than others, but I tried everything I could. And I pushed myself as hard as I could to be as good as I could at everything I tried.

The wonderful thing about trying out all of the different events was that I could appreciate my teammate's accomplishments. I knew that a 36' throw in the shot put was something to celebrate. I knew that a five foot high jump was pretty top notch. I knew that a 60 second quarter mile meant state competitions were in the runner's future.

I knew as much as I could about stretching, strengthening, visualization techniques, pushing through a wall, finishing techniques, hand off techniques, cold starts, block starts, loose face, loose hands, but not too loose, use your arms, lift your knees, lean on the bends, bend at the hips, look forward, etc. I immersed myself in the sport and decided I was going to be good. So I was good. Not Olympics good by any stretch of the imagination, but I was good.

Running a brick and mortar out here in an isolated area physically limits the amount of immersion I can achieve in my current field. I have learned as much as I can about managing TLGUTS's current space and curating that space. I want to learn more. I want to reach a higher level of achievement for both myself, and my team... the artists I work with. I want to re-immerse myself in the art world and lift my chin and look forward and continue to be challenged to get better.

I want to run a new race, one in which I can achieve the highest level of proficiency possible. I want to try a few new events. I want to take the time to appreciate the achievements of my team mates. So that's what I am going to do. I am taking a sabbatical to gain more knowledge, to focus on my own race, i.e. my own art work and writing, and to get out and spend more time with my team mates.

I don't want my team to run on cement anymore. I want us all to run on the good stuff. I'm not going to stop running, I'll just be perfecting my technique. 

Come run with me.


Well I'll Be Damned

Jake and his best friend grampa
 That's something my grandfather used to say when he was surprised.  He's been on my mind a lot lately. He can't remember me anymore, which is a tough pill to swallow because he raised me. So even though he's technically my grandfather by blood, he's really my dad. He's the one who showed up for my violin recitals and art shows and track and soccer and volleyball and whatever other sporting events. He's the one who came to all of my graduations and encouraged me to write and draw.

I don't know if you have ever been forgotten by someone you love in the literal sense, but it's awful. I have a hard time with it and I'm not quite sure I've let myself fully come to accept the fact that my grampa, my dad, is no longer accessible to me. He's lost in mixes of memories and reality and trying his best to make sense of his days. I don't get to see him often and each time he seems further and further gone.

So what does this have to do with art and Lynn?

Well, this weekend on Mother's Day I cleaned my garage. I needed more space at the house. I've started moving things out of my closet space at the gallery that don't need to be there, but aren't ready for the landfills. What I found in my garage and closet was a ton of old art supplies, half made projects, tests, and something I had forgotten about: me.

I had forgotten me,  just like my grandfather.

I was so gung-ho about trying to build the arts community here that I disregarded the personal consequences of lost time and lost pay and lost sight of my personal needs. I have, for the past number of years, put myself aside so many times, that I literally lost sight of my own value, strengths and worth.

Over the past few months, those closest to me have noticed my head spinning around with smoke coming out of my ears as I have been trying to figure out how to piece together a future in which my life is more balanced and that I am taking care of myself and family through my work, not taking care of work at the expense of my family.

This morning I met with someone who wanted to help me figure out the next stage of the gallery. He asked me, "What do you want?". Well, what do any of us want from our work efforts? We want to be challenged, to have space to grow, to make a difference, to make a living, to be taken seriously, and most of all, to be appreciated for our contributions, and for our contributions to not be forgotten.

That's what I want, for me, from the gallery. 

My grandfather might not remember me, but I remember my times with him. I remember a Class A 600yd race that I ran at the Harvard indoor track.  I went over to see him one last time before my race, before I went over in the far corner of the track to stretch, and he said to me, "Don't worry about anyone else,  just take care of yourself." I didn't worry about the long legged girl from Brockton or anyone else on the track. I just ran my own race. I ran my fastest time ever by about two seconds.

And the other girls in the race ran faster too.

In remembering me, and remembering what parts of me are results of the lessons my grampa taught me, I can hear him calling out, "GO JOCIE," as I raced by him. And I can hear him imparting his Swamp Yankee wisdom during one of our many car rides home after my races, "You just have to give 'em hell Jocelyn. You have to run your own race."

Well I'll be damned.


End of Taste, Beginning of a three week break

TASTE comes down tomorrow. Between the opening reception and all of the vents we had, we had a lot of traffic for this show. I hate when shows come down. By the end of each show, I know each piece intimately and hate to see them go.

The past year had been crazy hectic with the start of Arts After Hours, a continuous stream of exhibits, and life in general. The next few weeks I am taking some time off, kind of.

Day One of my "Time Off"

Sunday starts with the first NOBAS (North of Boston Art Salon), at the gallery at 10am. Then at one, I am heading over to Nest Forward's opening at their new office in Nahant. (Note to artists: Realtors are your friends. Eventually, you will need to use one. The owner of Nest Forward, Soraya, is very artist friendly.) After visiting the beautiful office building, I will be chasing my children all over the beaches for a couple hours and hopefully taking some new photos of them for my office, then I attending the state of the city address at the Lynn Museum and meeting with the museum director about potentially bringing programming for artists to the museum.

Day Two
Mama is a taxi cab. Finishing first draft of article on artist Jeff Fioravanti.

Day Three
Meetings in search of a new gallery space and separate studio space for me. Working on article.

Day Four
Meeting with design firm, Elissa Von Letkemann Art & Design. Awesome new business cards, check.

Day Five
Ad book for Arts After Hour's First Musical, 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, and pr and Marketing for our next event, SWING! And drumming at Walnut Street

Day Six
Booking line up for artists, workshops, P.S.S. and Movie series. Working on article.

Day Seven
a.m. artist studio visit. Full on assault on the new and improved business plan.

Not to mention I plan to bring my children to the beach every day possible and start my new exercise regime. I hate Nordstrom mirrors. 

That's what my "weeks off" look like.

The next week I am taking it slow. I am talking at Brandeis about motherhood and the arts, and following up on all of the other things I started the week before.

Week three:
Heading to a three day conference on how to draw people into the downtown.

Someday, I am truly going to pack my bags and get on a plane and go somewhere where there is no art in sight, leave my laptop home, and just sit still.

Nah, that's not going to happen. But please, for the next three weeks, be kind to me for not returning your email right away. I'm taking a much deserved break.


NOBAS: North of Boston Art Salon @ TLGUTS

Donna Dodson, Squirrel
For a few years, I used to drop in one Sunday a month at Donna Dodson's Art Salon Boston. Every time I went, I left with enough good energy to last me a month and to keep me focused on my work.  I first met Donna when she showed in one of our earlier exhibitions, Goddess.  I was struck the quality of her work, by her professionalism, and her enthusiasm.

Being an artist is an often lonely practice. You are an entrepreneur, and unless you have a staff doing your work for you, which few of us do, you are running your own marketing department, coming up with new innovative ideas, manufacturing your product (that sounds horrible, but there it is), finding clients and vendors, keeping inventory records, financial records, etc. It's a lot more work than most people understand.

Donna's  salon brought artists of various modalities- dancers, writers, visual artists of all sorts, architects, musicians, art teachers, etc. together to talk about current topics of relevance to the arts: housing, grants, techniques, support for the lifestyle, marketing, new technologies, new literature, etc. They were like a monthly work meeting for artists and creative people to get out of their studios, network, and feed each other's need to communicate about the issues they face as artists.

I hosted a couple of Donna's meetings here once she started moving them around so that we could get a look at different galleries and venues, talk to various experts in the field, etc.A while back, the meetings stopped as Donna become quite busy with her own shows, so we are going to start having salons here at TLGUTS on the first Sunday of each month. 

Sarah Ashodian and I talked about starting NOBAS a while back and moving it around on the North Shore once it is established. This Sunday, May 1st, is the first run. We will be meeting at TLGUTS at 10am - noon.

We start with brief introductions, go on to throw around topics, pick one, talk for a while, then share news about upcoming events and opportunities, work, etc.

I'm looking forward to seeing this take off. If you haven't been to a salon before, come on down! Sometimes there's a few people, sometimes it's packed, but it's always a good time!


TONIGHT!!! Word Art at Walnut Street Cafe!

So I've been lax about my own visual work for a long time. The image above is about, oh, 15 years old. Printed in a wet darkroom. That's about how long its been since I have really put my head down and developed a body of work.

I've been so focused on dividing my time between helping at LynnArts and running the gallery for the past going on eight years (minus the past six months which has been focused on the gallery and community work)... I just let my own visual art work fall to the wayside. I have, however, been writing.

I started keeping a journal in the third grade. I have countless journals hidden somewhere in my house which I should probably burn now that my kids are teenagerish people. Writing has kept me sane through all those moments in life that are devastating or ridiculously happy.

Tonight I will be sharing some of my writing at the Walnut Street Cafe in Lynn, MA. This little "hot spot" has become my new favorite place. With Speak Up on Wednesday nights, run by the infamous Don White,  Jeff Pearlstein's drum circle on Thursday nights, live music on Friday and Saturday nights, and Don's Open Mic on Sunday nights, there's always something gong on.

What I love the most about Walnut Street, besides it's full line up of arts programming, and the fire pit,  is the people. There's a community of thinkers, tinkerers, musicians, writers, visual artists, activists, etc. that have found their place over at Walnut Street. It's a place in the city where I can go to fill my cup with inspiration, other than the gallery or Turbine.

It's good to have options. I wish there were more options in the city for visual artists. I think that's about to happen. I have been hearing a lot of buzz about people starting different spaces which will focus on the visual arts and I look forward to having more people around participating in a visual dialog.

Meanwhile, come on down to Walnut Street tonight. I go on at 8:30pm, but come earlier to hear the other performers. I'll paint you a picture or two with my words.

Walnut Street Cafe
157 Walnut Street
Lynn, MA 01905-1168
(781) 596-1690

facebook event page for tonight!



La-di-da-di, we like to party
We don't cause trouble, we don't bother nobody - Slick Rick

The past six months have been crazy here. Apparently, I have been "resisting", according to the book I am reading, which will remain nameless until I finish my review. We get to points in our careers where we have to move on to the next level of challenge. I am there.

The space where TLGUTS is located has been good to me. It gave me legs. However, there are obvious issues that keep growth stunted. For instance, some of my very favorite artists like to work big, and the little gallery can't support a show of many of their works. So I was looking for a new home. One with higher walls, more wall space, and street level visibility; a new space that will fit all the programs I run through the gallery and room to grow.

I look forward to finding this new space, and but we are months and months away from this becoming a reality.  In the meanwhile, TLGUTS will remain where it is. I thought about taking a break for the summer as an alternative, but there's just too much that I want to do, too many artists to show, too many things going on, too many people who meet up here on the regular. If I stopped cold turkey, I would lose my mind. Bringing people together is like a drug to me. The more people, the merrier I am. So, there is the news I have been holding back on. I was hoping to be able to release a new address, but we don't have one - and its looking like it may take a while.

Meanwhile, we are going to move forward. 

The Spring Swing, sponsored by Arts After Hours, is going to be held on May 28th, a Saturday evening. Upstairs we will have swing music, a little something something from Turbine Wine Bar, a few cool inspired interludes throughout the evening, and downstairs, at TLGUTS, or the VIP room, we will have an opening reception for a very special artist.

Next week, we have our film screening of Herb and Dorothy. For more info, check out our website.

This Spring Swing is also TLGUTS five year birthday party. We will have a cake, yes. And we will have dancing, and we will have all sorts of fun... most of all, we hope to have you there. More info to come. If you want to be on our volunteer staff for the evening, let me know!

Meanwhile, come see TASTE! It's only up for another week, and there are still pieces that need homes.

Artists include: Jennifer Adler, John C. Bennard, Jane Von Letkemann Coder,
Susan Funk, Fran Gardino, Christine McShane, Kim Sabella,
R. Peri Sossaman, Sandra Winter, Cate Woolner, Christy Yates


TLGUTS Featured on WGBH as a Part of Lynn's Revitalization

When I was asked to do this interview, I didn't really know what to expect. We talked for quite some time, but the nature of the beast is that the interviews get cut down to sound clips that support the main point of the story. I thought I would share a few things from my interview that were left out to help people get a better picture. I'm going to start with one question that was asked that I didn't answer well, so I am glad that it wasn't included.

I have lived in Lynn for nearly ten years. I have been working downtown as an artist/ business owner/ arts advocate/ community advocate for about eight of those years. The gallery opened five years ago this April.

One of the questions that I was asked was, "What has changed over the past five years?" When they asked me about this, I was honestly at a loss for words. Not because nothing has changed, but because so much has changed so rapidly, it's hard to keep up. I just keep looking forward.

Looking back:
1. I'll address the restaurants first since they are so heavily focused on. Tons of new restaurants.

Blue Ox, Turbine Wine Bar, Tacos Lupita, Lupita, and more. These are the ones I most frequently visit. At the Blue Ox, I usually get the fillet mignon and go there for dinner when I am meeting people at the gallery from out of town, or after work/meetings. It's the best sit down fine dining full service restaurant on the North Shore. We eat, then we go to Turbine Wine Bar.

I have a lot of meetings at Turbine over a glass of wine. Kung Fu girl is my favorite, or I'll have a Guinness, usually with the black and blue fillet. I love red meat. I also love their soups and pizzas. This is the watering hole for the social network gurus/ political activists/ young professionals of the city. I say watering hole jokingly, because it's the nicest bar in the city. They also have music, trivia nights, and a lot more in the works. I am horrible at trivia, but love the conversations that ensue from the questions.  Like them on facebook so you can get updates and I'll see you there. Go.

While you're at it, Like TLGUTS too. We could use some love. 

Tacos Lupita- on Saturdays if I am going to go out for lunch, I go to Tacos Lupita for the chicken burrito and a Mexican Coke. Five dollars. Amazing. Lupitas... for sit down Saturday meetings. Everything I have ever had has been really, really good. Love that place. There are a ton of others, many are not open when I am at work, and I do tend to pick something, like it, and stick with it. Go to downtownlynn.com for better restaurant reviews. There have been many, many more that have opened over the past five years. Check out Fernandos too... They rock. I just don't get to go there very often.

2. Infrastructure
The sidewalks, street lights and street signs have been updated. The lines are all underground. There are new garbage compactors, bike racks, community clean ups, etc. The parking lot behind my building was redesigned with more trees. It's becoming prettier.

3. RAW
RAW bought their building and did a total rehab. It is a jaw dropping art making space. Makes me want to be ten again just so I can have access to make art in their building!

4. Lynn Museum
The Lynn Museum moved into the Historic Society building and Kate Luchini took over. Every community needs a thriving historical center so people can know their history. Now we have a beautiful facility with a highly motivated Executive Director who comes from the Peabody Essex Museum. Top notch.

5. MV24 lofts.
Chris, the owner of Subterranean book emporium, relocated to these lofts from Los Angeles. I'm sure there are other people who live there, but unfortunately, I haven't seen many of them, Where are you folks?

6. That other building just got bought. It doesn't have a name, just a street address that I can't remember. It's right off Central Square though. The company who did the Boston Machine Lofts and the Fire Station renovations, RCG, are developing this building. Want to move here? Call Jim Cowdell. We have some spaces opening for you!

7. Commuter Rail upgrades
We are lucky to have a very active DTL Neighborhood Association who went after the MBTA for unsightly conditions at the comuter rail. The MBTA listened, cleaned up the station, and fixed all of the concerns posted by the local residents. It's cleaner, safer, and AN EASY WAY TO GET TO LYNN FROM BOSTON, SALEM, BEVERLY, etc.

8. DTL Neighborhood Association
We have a neighborhood association that reaches out to local politicians for meet and greets, organizes community clean ups, and hosts events and small fundraisers for local orgs at local establishments. This org has become a true neighborhood gem, and has made the politicians stay on their toes in regards to the living and working conditions downtown. Thanks to Seth Albaum for starting this org.

9. Bloggers!
There are A LOT of bloggers in Lynn who are getting the word out. The two key bloggers for the downtown are Corey Jackson, downtownlynn.com, and Seth Albaum, lynnhappens.com. They make my life easier by running all of my press releases to their thousands of readers. Thanks guys!

10. TLGUTS, Arts After Hours, Lynn Community Coffee House
Here we can toot our own horn. Over the past five years, we have shown hundreds of artists from Florida to New York, and  all over Massachusetts. Our visitors hail from all over as well. We've had visitors who were staying in Boston while visiting the US come up to Lynn for gallery talks, and people from other states coming into the area and seeking us out. It's a wonderful thing to be able to represent my city this way.

Artists in Residence:
We have had four artists in residence. Amy Perrault from Metheun, Pam Oliveiri from Peabody, Alicia Churchill from Lynn (moved here from Salem), and Michiko Imai, who has been with us for a few years. Her studio is featured in this segment. She is an amazing calligrapher, very highly sought after for her classes and demonstrations (City of Boston, PEM, Montserrat, etc.), and also holds classes at the gallery on Saturday mornings.

Michiko is from Japan. If you notice, I didn't mention Asia when I talked about all of the people I have met. Truth be told, I have shown a lot of Asian artists at the gallery, including Michiko from Japan, XiaoWei Chen from China, and Sand T from Malaysia. These women have all had solo shows at the gallery, and other artists from Asia have been included in group shows. I don't know how that slipped my mind, other than the fact that I don't think of them from being other places, I just think of them as colleagues and friends.

Subterranean Book Store:
Chris Barber, who moved here from LA opened the book store here. It's the only book store in Lynn. Lots of great art titles, out of print titles, and hard to find titles. Come check it out!

Ok, so Arts After Hours isn't technically a TLGUTS thing. in fact, We're officializing (is that a real word?) it as its own identity as I write this, but it popped up here. We bring hundreds of people and into the city with each event, highlighting musical performances, visual arts, performance arts, poetry, local food and restaurants, and arts related businesses. We are now adding theatrical performances with our first and upcoming play, the 25th Annual Putnam Spelling Bee, directed by Corey Jackson. artsafterhours.com

Lynn Community Coffee House
Started by Don White, in collaboration with TLGUTS, this community event highlights a featured performer, local artists and upcoming events and developments in the city of Lynn. Our first gig featuring comedian Jimmy Tingle, was a raging success, brought a couple hundred people into the city, and we're getting calls constantly for the next one. Who do you want to see in Lynn?

Walnut Street Cafe
This is completely not a gallery thing, it's run by Jim Chalmers, and is a fantastic coffee house on Walnut Street in Lynn. It has been around for a while, but has blown up over the past few years. It reminds me of Crickets in New Bedford, only its not really a bar, and its a lot smaller, with a fire pit out back. Don White has SPEAK UP, spoken word open mic, and music open mic nights here, and Jim books live music on other nights. It also boasts the best coffee in the city, for which they win people's choice awards annually.

We want Jim downtown, but really, we need to venture out into the other areas of the city too. West Lynn is my new "wow, look at all this potential" area. Check out the Ford family's Little River Inn breakfast place for a true Lynn experience. They just celebrated their twenty-fifth anniversary, so they aren't downtown, or new over the past five years, but I like that place.

Black Box Theater upgrades
Again, not a TLGUTS thing... I'm thinking I should rename this section, "The arts in Lynn"...
LynnArts upgraded their theater with a professional lighting track, and stadium seating. While it seems like a simple thing, it has a huge impact on what can be done in the space. We can totally transform the space into a proper performance arts space now. Kudos.

The Lynn Auditorium
While our two-hundred people sellout events are drawing people in, there's a new major player in Lynn in performance Arts, and it's the city itself. The Lynn Auditorium has had drastic renovations, and can sit ten times the amount of people we can get to our events. And they regularly sell out. I'm looking forward to the upcoming Big Bad VooDoo Daddy show.

Other developments: Spin Aquaponics, The Food Project, Urban Wine Project, Farmer's Market, Christopher's Cafe, upcoming development at the water front, the library is about to go through a huge restoration project, our stadium was torn down and a top notch athletic field added in its' place, Stone Tower has opened to the public after a renovation (in Lynn Woods), High Rock Tower (our observatory) is regularly used.

What else has happened in the recent past in Lynn that has upgraded our community? Help me fill in the blanks!

I will tag this post up with links asap... but for now, I need sleep.


Jimmy Tingle ... more than just a comedy show

My kids have been listening to me talk about the upcoming Jimmy Tingle event with their father for the past few weeks. It's been a lot of..."I hope people show up," and "I hope people know how important this is for Lynn," and "I hope..."

Tonight they asked me, finally, who Jimmy Tingle is. So I let them listen to some Jimmy Tingle. They laughed. They laughed a lot. It made me happy. Then they asked, "Can we meet him?" So, of course, I hope they can. I hope that growing up in Lynn allows them to meet interesting, captivating, people like Jimmy Tingle, DOn White, Elizabeth McKim, and all of the other fascinating, accomplished people I come across living here in Lynn.

I hope that their vision of Lynn is one in which there are so many wonderful things going on that they want to come home during school breaks and bring their friends with them from time to time. I hope that the city becomes a destination, not a place where people say to their children, "I want you to do better and move out of here."

I know we are headed in that direction, but we need to move faster.

Buying a ticket to see Jimmy Tingle may seem like an arbitrary thing. After all, lots of comedians come through this city. Buying a ticket to an Arts After Hours event or a Lynn Auditorium event, or to the Lynn Museums' History and Hops may all seem arbitrary. You either want to go or you don't, so you buy a ticket or you don't. But it's so much more than that.

You're supporting the notion that Lynn is indeed a worth while place to go, to be, and to do things. The more we do, and the better attended these events are, the more we show that Lynn is worth investing in. It's worth developing here. It's worth it to open a business here and offer jobs to hard working Lynners. It's worth it to raise a family here.

The more we step out of our homes and stay in Lynn instead of shooting up 129 to the surrounding towns, or down into Boston, and reinvest in our own city, the more of a chance we have to keep this thing going.

I don't know about you, but I'm going to keep fostering all of the good opportunities I come across to make this city a better place to live so my kids will be proud of where they came from. And come hell or high water, I'm not going to let this city slip backwards without a fight, and I'm going to laugh at all of the naysayers with every step forward this city takes.

This Friday night, I plan on having a good laugh. Come join me.


Support TLGUTS, Take home a photograph from Cuba!

copyright 2009 Gretjen Helene
Through the end of Gretjen Helen's CUBA: In Form exhibition, the gallery is offering a chance for visitors to take home one of Gretjen Helene's photographs for ten dollars.

I know. Sounds crazy, right?

The artist has brought a fantastic idea to the gallery... support the artist/ gallery with a ten dollar or more contribution, pick your favorite piece in the exhibition, and at the closing reception, on February 26th, 1-3pm, the artist will award one of the photographs to one of the supporters.

You do not have to be at the reception to be the recipient of the photograph, but we would love to have you there! Each image is approximately 18 x 24 " and is valued at $130.00. Images are also available for direct sale, as always.

Ok, so maybe everyone doesn't get to take a photo home for ten dollars, but you are more than welcome to take home a post card with the above image, and our gratitude for helping support the artist and gallery!

If you cannot make the exhibition, but would still like to show support for TLGUTS' arts programming and exhibitions, and Gretjen Helene's work, be an angel and make a contribution here:



To learn more about Gretjen Helene, check out this recent article written about our artist!


or visit her website!



Wanderlust: Destination Cuba

Gretjen Helene Photography
There are a few things I haven't done in this life time that I would some day like to do. World travel tops that list. I haven't traveled enough. I've taken small trips and been on two excursions with nothing more than a sense of which direction I wanted to go. Those excursions were two of my favorite weeks ever.

Some people do this all the time. They pack up, throw their sack over their shoulder, hop on a plane, and go wherever they think is cool, or go to the opposite end of the earth thinking they will find themselves there, not understanding how, where or why they became lost. I would gamble that most of these people do not have four children.

I watched Eat Love Pray the other night and was hoping to have a moment when I thought, “That's what I am going to do. I am going to pack up my kids, go stay in Italy and the rest of it can be damned. That will make everything better.”

Bull sh!t, as my grandfather would say.

What I learned from watching that movie, is that even though I want to travel, its not because I want to be enlightened or find a better version of myself over seas. I think Version 1.0 of me is working quite fine, thank you. I live a good life already. I want to travel for sensory invigoration. New smells, new foods, etc., but I don't feel the need to find a new me, or take on a new mantra, or find peace with any part of me that needs some ironing out.

Gretjen Helene Photography
However, the wanderlust thing is pretty inherent in the fibers of all of our beings. We can't help it. We were meant to be nomadic. We were meant to move with the weather and the changing earth. We were meant to adapt and be changed by our surroundings.

One of the many things I love about Lynn is meeting people from all over the world. I have heard people speak more languages and dialects of various languages since living in Lynn than I can count. I have learned about countries I had never heard of before moving here. I have tried new foods, listened to new music, seen more fiber patterns and styles of jewelry and dress than I ever thought possible to exist at the same time on one tiny little city's street. Lynn is amazing in that way.

I applaud the Mayor Kennedy for placing flags from the different countries representing the peoples of our city. I also applaud the many various organizations that work to unite the peoples of various countries once they come here to retain traditions while learning about American culture and assimilating to life here.

I think we need to go one step further. We need to intermingle more. We need to come together.

One of the things that every culture on the face of this earth has is common is art. Find me a culture that doesn't have either instrumental music, singing, art, body decoration... and I will tell you you are wrong.

Art, or creativity, is something we all have and can celebrate, learn about and share with each other. It  is also easily understood as a commonality once experienced commonly. Bobby McFerrin did this great experiment at the 2009 World Science Festival using the Pentatonic Scale.

Watch it and you'll understand where I am coming from if you don't already. (Jamie Marsh, please get this man to come to Lynn!) Every nationality can participate in this collaborative art piece even if they can't speak his language.

The problem I see with the multicultural programming in the city to date, is not the events themselves, or the planning, or the planners. The problem is that we are not reaching out to each other effectively.

Sights and Sounds of CUBA is for EVERYBODY. The Greek festival is for EVERYBODY. The parades, gatherings, festivals, are for EVERYBODY. Make it a resolution this year to take advantage of what Lynn has to offer in the way of cultural experiences and attend an event that celebrates a culture other than your own.

So I call on the Lynn cultural leaders and the rest of the community to come to the center and celebrate with us in Lynn's community art center, LynnArts. We're taking over the theater on January 22nd to present Sights an Sounds of Cuba, where we will be looking at the photographs of Gretjen Helen and listening to the sounds of Cuban music and tasting some Cuban food and playing dominos and kicking our heels...

Sights and Sounds is meant to celebrate cultures from around the word. Starting with Cuba was actually coincidental, as there really isn't a huge population of Cubans in Lynn, or in Massachusetts for that matter in comparison to other groups of people who have emigrated here. The event stems from the work of photographer Gretjen Helene, who traveled to Cuba and documented her interactions with the Cuban people and observations of the current urban infrastructure.

We grew the event from her work.

In Form: Cuba is Gretjen's second solo exhibition here at TLGUTS. To kick off Sights and Sounds, we are hosting an opening reception for her exhibition which runs from Jan 22nd through February 29th. The reception is open and free to the public, (although donations to keep TLGUTS programming going are welcomed!) and we hope that you will stay and then join us upstairs for Arts After Hours' 2011 kick off event! Tickets for the main event are $8.00 and can be purchased at the door.

(rsvp is not required, but greatly appreciated!)

I hope that I get the chance to dance. I don't expect I will find a better version of me out on the dance floor, in fact, I'm pretty certain I am just going to find an older version of myself than I care to admit, but I am fairly certain that the night will help with my wanderlust and fulfill my need to have my senses shaken and to stir up my status quo...

So let's get it together! Eat some yummy Cuban appetizers prepared by Fernando's, have a glass of wine or beer from Turbine's award winning wine list, see Gretjen Helene's images of modern Cuba downstairs here at TLGUTS, listen to the sounds of Cuban music presented by La Timbistica, Berklee's Latin Jazz All-Stars,  see a dance demo and get some pointers from Lynn's own Divinity Dance Studio, shake your thang, and then join us for the city's best after party event EVER at Turbine.

Indulge in a night of wanderlust by stepping into your own backyard... Downtown Lynn - the gateway to the North Shore arts community!