3.29.2011

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
Exhibitions:
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!

Programming:
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.

6 comments:

  1. Lynn is beginning to feel more like a cultural community for me personally. Salem use to be that to me since the late 80's. But now I read about Lynn daily from the Item, blogs, etc., attend a DTL church weekly, and participate in Lynn events. Lynn is that cultural environment for me now. There is a group of people now from inside and outside Lynn that depend on Lynn for their spiritual, intellectual, social and creative needs. This connection will only grow and deepen to enrich all our lives!!

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  2. Colleen, I love that you are so active in Lynn. Are you going to Kurt's church? He's an amazing asset to the city. I hope to see you again soon! Jocelyn

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  3. Thanks Jocelyn! I don't know Kurt, and attend Central Congregational Church at 97 Broad Street. I wish I could have seen your last show, Cuba. Unfortunately, I'm only getting in to Lynn once a week these days, and your gallery isn't open on Sundays. I think you are an amazing asset to Lynn. I'm so glad you have met so many people to collaborate with. So glad your great events are becoming wildly popular and attended!! Happy Spring...see you soon!

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  4. Don't forget, we are also open by appointment! I can definitely meet you on a Sunday after church for a bit and let you in to see the shows! Thanks again Colleen!

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  5. Devaney31.3.11

    Be careful of gentrification, they're are a lot of sly developers and real estate agents waiting until a lot of attention is given to Lynn who will buy up property and start selling at exorbitant profits using all of our hard-works in the community, its resources, and the improvement of its image. It's the same thing that happened recently in Harlem.

    Also, I think issues of park and recreation need to be updated, I don't think any new parks have been added or improved since before the New Deal. Yes the woods and the beach are both excellent but inner city people and kids need something closer to home as well.

    Congratulations to all the people who have put so much work into the city and are finally turning the city back onto a path to progress.

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  6. Thank you Devaney!
    I am aware of what you are talking about. I went out to a conference held by Americans for the Arts years back to rep. Lynn and we had a huge discussion about this at Mass MOCA.

    Unfortunately, i think we are already seeing this. THe prices of available downtown locations that I've looked at lately fall between 1300 - 2500 which largely puts artists out of the market for creative start ups, as many of the spaces also need a bit of work.

    There are a number of vacant properties that are being held onto until the climate changes, which is a catch 22. The climate isn't going to change until these store fronts get filled and people have more of a reason to come here.

    Even out near Mass MOCA the shops had a really hard time staying afloat and we don't have that kind of a destination vantage here.. yet. I don't know how well they are doing now. Hopefully better.

    In Worcester, they have an Arts and Cultural staff person who works with the other city departments. Last time I heard her speak she talked about working with landlords to launch a number of businesses at the same time so that those initial investors -like me- wouldn't lose their shirts while they wait for other shops to open up. I thought that was a brilliant idea.

    As it is, there aren't enough available studio spaces in downtown Lynn. The Lydia Pinkham building has a nice community of artists, however the artists in my building seem largely inactive as far as building community, with the exception of the small non-profits Which are located in the building and the gallery. We need more studio spaces, some affordable rental spaces where people can take risks to show the work of the artists who come here, and different venues which can provide exhibition opportunities that are aligned with artists at different career levels.
    That's just for starters, and I'm only talking about the Arts and Cultural district, not the downtown as a whole.

    The arts spaces needn't be only located downtown either, but downtown should serve as a home base. New Bedford has studios and live work spaces spread around the city which helps them bring the whole city into the collective arts and culture conversation. I am looking at West Lynn right now... Well see where that gets me!

    Thank you for joining in the conversation. I wish I knew more about parks, hopefully some of the ones that have been neglected or abused will get back into the mainstream use again after this summer's planned clean ups!

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