Come on in: Artists in Easthampton and Florence will host open studio events in early November
|Published: 10-27-2023 7:50 PM
Fall brings lots of familiar sights and traditions to the Valley: football games, colorful foliage, crisp nights, pumpkin and squash harvests.
There’s another tradition in early November: artists opening their studios to the public.
On Nov. 4 and 5, artists from over 50 studios and community spaces in Eastworks will show their work at the Easthampton center’s open studio event, showcasing drawing and painting, printmaking, ceramics and glasswork, photography, clothing design and more.
Running from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day, the event has plenty of other activities on tap, including poetry readings, artist demonstrations, theater and live music.
And in Florence, artists at Brushworks Arts and Industry will throw open their doors Nov. 11 and 12, also from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and a record number of artists will be participating, according to printmaker Catherine Aiello, one of the participants.
Kim Carlino, a painter and mural artist in Eastworks, says the building’s open studios event is still working its way back a bit from before the pandemic, after COVID-19 shut down the program in 2020 and inflation last fall cut down on some sales.
Still, Carlino noted, attendance for the Eastworks event the last two years “has been really good, especially in 2021 … I think a lot of people were just happy to be able to get out and go somewhere.”
Open studios are a great means for artists to make personal contact with potential customers, Carlino said, and for visitors to see artists in the place where they work. At this time of year, she added, they can also be an important boost for an artist’s sales, since many people are looking for holiday gifts.
“There’s also a real energy to having people in the building, walking the halls and coming into your studio,” she said.
Visitors will have plenty of other events to consider, such as a tour of a fiber processing mill at Alchemy Fiber Mill, one of the newer tenants in the building, and a poetry open mic and artist talks at 50 Arrow Gallery, which exhibits BIPOC art.
On the first floor of Eastworks, meantime, eight small musical ensembles or solo artists will be performing 45-minute sets over the weekend, playing everything from bluegrass/Americana (Deep River Ramblers) to jazz (Crimson Canary) to Spanish guitar (Tony Silva).
Also on the first floor, the Easthampton Public Library will hold a book sale, while a number of food trucks will be parked just outside the first floor entrance both days.
Carlino said she and other organizers of Eastworks Open Studios have been spreading the word about the event further afield in the last few years, advertising through New England Public Media and “targeted social media sites” to audiences in eastern Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island.
“I think the event has become pretty well established,” she noted. “We’re getting visitors from Boston, from Rhode Island and other places out of state. We like to think of it as the kind of event where you can make a full day out of it.”
At Brushworks Arts and Industry, meantime, a number of guest artists will join resident artists to push the total number of participants at the open studios to more than 70. That’s a record for an event that’s taken place for more than three decades, says Catherine Aiello, the printmaker.
Aiello, who moved to the area a few years ago from the Boston area, said there’s a lot of enthusiasm this year for event.
“It’s just such a different experience when people can be in your studio and see the art in person,” she said, “They can touch an artwork, pick it up.”
“It’s not like selling you work in a market or craft show,” Aiello added. “Here they can learn something about your creative process, and we get to talk to customers one on one.”
As at Eastworks, a wide variety of work will be on display: handcrafted scarves and other clothing, woodcut and silkscreen prints, sculpture, Judaica, photography and assemblages.
Other small, creative businesses and nonprofits at Brushworks that offer different services, such as body work, yoga and art education, will also welcome visitors. You can sign up to join Grow Food Northampton, for instance, and learn about local food production.
Among some special events, Sulis Studio will host a day-long, interactive session Nov. 11, “Tracing Water,” at which participants can engage in a variety of art-making and discussion designed to respond to the flooding the region experienced this summer.
Given COVID has not completely gone away, face masks will be available for visitors at both Eastworks and Brushworks, and some artists may request that visitors to their studios wear them.
“We’re leaving it open for people to make their own decisions,” said Aiello, who plans to wear a mask herself in her studio. (In 2021, both studio complexes required visitors to mask up.)
And if you can’t find what you’re looking for during those first two weekends in November, consider attending Cottage Street Open Studios in Easthampton, Dec. 2, 3 and 9.
The event there dates back to 1986 — the longest running open studio event in the area — and features a similarly varied range of art and craftwork, including creative lighting design and housewares.
Steve Pfarrer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.