This Weekend Offers Opportunity to Meet and to Learn about Charlestown Artists

By Seth Daniel

This coming weekend offers a unique opportunity for Charlestown resident to see inside the workings of a real studio gallery, observing how local artists work and seeing some of their most recent works, as the Artists Group of Charlestown (AGC) opens its doors at the StoveFactory on Medford Street during the annual Open Studios.

“The Open Studios is really for the artists’ studios to be open to the public so that the artists and the public can meet one another,” said Dara Pannebaker, member of the AGC. “All three floors will be open for the public to view and we will be having a show entitled ‘Small Wonders’ in our gallery.”

There will be between 16 and 18 studios open to the public at the StoveFactory on Dec. 3 and 4 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., and the ‘Small Wonders’ show will be up for viewing as well. That show will continue in to the next weekend, being available for viewing on Dec. 10 and 11 as well.

“In the past, we’ve had up to 30 artists and 80 pieces in the (Open Studios show),” said Pannebaker. “It’s an open show and so it’s not ‘juried.’ We’ll probably have a people’s choice award so visitors can vote for what they like best.”

Among those artists now working in the StoveFactory are a letterpress artist, papermakers, a violin maker, a fluter maker, several painters, a jewelry maker, a fiber ware artist, a lithograph artist, and a silk artist.

There aren’t as many sculptors, Pannebaker said, because they are not allowed to have a kiln or an open flame in the StoveFactory building.

The AGC is about to hit its 20-year mark next year, and in preparation during the Open Studios, Pannebaker and Didier Delepine both said they would like to grow the organization using Open Studios and other shows.

“We are definitely trying to grow membership,” said Delepine. “There is a need for growth here. We are 43 members and we are going to try to reach Charlestown a little better. There is a community that is very tight and we feel there are many who would like to join AGC…You’re going to see a little bit more of us.”

Said Pannebaker, “We also want to go to Boston and extend our reach because there is a movement by Mayor Walsh to do more with artists and we want to be more visible in that effort.”

From 1987 until 2004 the Charlestown Preservation Society (CPS) held the “Charlestown Artist Exhibition” for local Charlestown artists at the Preble Room at the Navy Yard during “Preservation Week.” During those 18 years, the event sponsored by the CPS was the only art related event open to community artists in Charlestown.

After the “Charlestown Artist Exhibition” in 1996, the AGC was founded by Wendy Withington and Joe Caruso, both Charlestown artists and included six other local artists, forming a group of eight.

The first exhibit was held at Chow Tai Restaurant that year. Later that year, studio space was found, “ARTeria” on Terminal Street, for six of these artists. The AGC held its first event, Open Studios at “ARTeria”, in December of 1996.

In 1997 the AGC planned its first fundraiser at Artisan’s, a local tea and coffee shop in Bunker Hill Mall where Ace Hardware is now. The fundraiser was successful and the profits from this event made it possible to buy lights, build rolling panels and other materials needed for events held at “ARTeria” and gave the AGC some capital to develop “ART in the PARK” which had it’s debut in 1997.

“ARTeria” became too small for all the activity and in the spring of 2002 a space was found 523 Medford St. “Savoring the Arts” fundraising campaign raised approximately $19,000, and allowed the AGC to “build-out” the 3,000 sq. ft. space and develop eight artists’ studios, which are independently rented by individual artists. That project also yielded a 950 sq. ft. gallery named StoveFactory Gallery.

The StoveFactory Gallery allows community organizations and individuals the opportunity to hold events and activities within a “creative space,” The events sponsored by the AGC are always open to the public and free of charge.

Please check the AGC web site for eventswww.artistsgroupofcharlestown.com or contact the AGC at [email protected] for event schedule and rates.

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