New Bedford's Arts Community Opens Its Doors

By Don Cuddy

Zane Cox, 8, the youngest artist taking part in Open Studios, displayed his artwork downtown Sunday. David W. Oliveira/Standard-Times special

New Bedford’s arts community threw open its doors this weekend as the fifth annual Open Studios event took place at more than a dozen venues across the city. Artists working in glass, paint, textiles, wood, metal and clay invited the public in for a close-up look at the setting in which their work takes shape. And the venues varied nearly as much as the artwork on display.
At County and Linden streets, silversmith Joost During and his wife, sculptor Dianne Reilly, stood behind a workbench in the soft glow of sunlight through the stained glass windows of what was once the St. James Episcopal Church. In creating the studio, the couple revitalized the shuttered building last year and live in the adjacent house.
“It’s worked out very well for us,” During said. “People from the neighborhood have been really great. They seem to appreciate what we are doing.”
Over on Sawyer Street, a woman from New York was hanging by her ankle from the roof of The Ropeworks building. Teresa Kochis is an aerialist. “I do aerial circus arts and I’m looking to teach in this space,” she said.
Kochis, who shares the space with her boyfriend, photographer Andy Anello, attended a small circus school in Atlanta where she grew up and began performing with her sister before moving to New York to work with modern dance companies.
Asked what prompted her move to New Bedford she offered a simple answer: “Space.”
“That’s a big commodity and you guys have a lot of it. Last year’s Open Studios was the first time we came here, to look at the building, and we loved it.”
Down the corridor, Jane Bregoli, who teaches art at Quinn Elementary School in Dartmouth, was exhibiting paintings in oil and watercolor. “I like to do texture,” she said. “So I do mostly animals and landscapes.”
Bregoli also was selling copies of “The Goat Lady,” a children’s book that she wrote and illustrated in 2004. It recounts the true tale of Dartmouth’s goat lady, Noelie Houle. “This book has sold 25,000 copies,” she said. “A successful children’s book sells about 4,000.”
Over at the Hatch Street studios, a giant pink ear mounted on the wall of sculptor Erik Durant’s studio immediately caught the eye.
“For those studying traditional sculpture, Michelangelo’s ‘David’ was considered perfection. So students are always doing ‘David’s nose’ or ‘David’s ear,'” Durant said. “I was just having a little fun with that.”
Viewers were invited to insert a giant Q-tip into the ear, triggering a recording of a man’s voice making pleasurable sounds.
Located on the upper floors of the old Nashawena Mill, the artists working at Hatch Street enjoy panoramic views of the Acushnet River.
The youngest artist taking part in Open Studios was 8-year-old Zane Cox, who displayed his artwork downtown at The Garage on North Water Street. Zane, who is home schooled by his mother, Keri Cox, proudly showed off his drawings, some creations in clay and a pop-up that contained his vision of the future.
“There are tubes that suck people up and transport them to other worlds,” he said. Zane was unsure whether he would pursue a career in the arts.
“I was thinking I might be a marine biologist,” he said.
His mother, who owns Medium Studio teaches her son in the same building. “Art comes naturally to him but being here every day he’s just immersed in it,” she said.
The arts community holds the key to New Bedford’s future, she believes. “The next wave brewing is the creative economy.
“That’s what’s going to make New Bedford stand out. Open Studios is just one opportunity for people to see just one aspect of that. There’s a lot more creative work going on here than anyone really understands.”
October 05, 2009
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