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.