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about the forum on creative life

One way people earned Creative stocks was by sharing things they'd done to help Somerville's creative life. Another was by donating to the Somerville Arts Council, and then telling us about it.

Below are things people told us they'd done-- as well as current events and news items that impacted Somerville's creative life.

We updated this page every few weeks for a year, beginning on March 31, 2012 and ending on March 31, 2013.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 3/16-3/31/13

Resa Blatman has spent nearly 60 hours designing the Somerville Open Studios brochure/map for this year's event. This year, she's also donated money to the new Nave Annex, and participated in their inaugural show; and she wrote a letter to a Somerville politician regarding the future of current artist studios in Somerville once the T comes in. In 2011 and 2012, she donated money to the Somerville Museum, and was a volunteer juror for the Somerville Local Cultural Council Artist Grant.

For decades, residents have been putting religious icons in front of their houses in Somerville. These are usually Marys or Jesuses; to protect them from weather, they're put in small enclosures that a lot of people refer to as bathtubs. As Somerville's demographic changes and older residents move out, these icons have been disappearing. For the past few years, a life-long resident named Cathy Piantigini has been photographing these icons, to document this folk tradition.

J. Marechal is a Somerville & Cambridge artist and writer. She has made a bunch of art, including sketches, paintings, jewelry, multimedia pieces, poems, fiction, photos, found object & fiber art; glazed ceramics for a WLP benefit auction; a permanent public video art collaboration w/ the Boston Museum of Fine Arts School; and Common Art w/ Common Cathedral.

J. Marechal supported/attended these art events and author readings: Josiah McElheny's 'Some pictures of the Infinite at Boston ICA; Washington Street Studios Open House; Participated in Interactive Art piece: Round at Cambridge Cultural Council; Harvard St. Dance Festival; Theatre Offensive Benefit; MIT's Fat Chain Reaction; How to make a peaceful Revolution Film Screening & talk w/ filmmaker at MIT; Positivity meet with GWAMIT at MIT; Mark Morris Dance Group at Wang Theatre; Ani DeFranco at the Wilbur; Mass Mouth Story Slam at Club Passim; Storytelling night at Out of the Blue Gallery; Somerville Bike Festival; Green Festival Boston Govt Plaza; Mass Independent Comics Expo & N. E. Comic Arts in the Classroom at Lesley U.; Publishing Panel at Sloan School of Mgmt; Grub St. open house; Became a member of 2 public libraries, and Papercut Zine library, & CCTV (took classes at same); Attended presentation at Harvard's pop-up Labrary; Boston Book Festival; Became a member of Society of Children Book Writers & Illustrators; Junot Diaz at MIT, Sara Markus (who rocked) at Lorem Ipsum Bookstore; Ray Kurzweil at Coolidge Theatre; Dennis Lehane at BPL; Zadie Smith at CPL (glass); Nathan Englander at Northeastern; a psychedelic/science author at Harvard Books; Author of Trapeze at same; Saw MIT President Emerita Susan Hockfield at Harvard's Muse of Geo talk re: EdX.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 3/2-3/15/13

The automatic budget cuts that went into effect on March 1st included a 5 percent cut ($7.3 million) from the National Endowment for the Arts' budget. Since the NEA funds the Massachusetts Cultural Council, which in turn funds the Somerville Arts Council, this means that the Somerville Arts Council's budget will go down a little.

The Boston Review has its offices in Somerville. The well-respected magazine has published fiction, poetry, book reviews, and political essays since 1975.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 2/16-3/1/13

Somerville-based Folksong Society of Greater Boston has been promoting folk singing for over 50 years. The Society produces an annual concert series. It also offers workshops, and monthly singing parties, in addition to producing and distributing its own newsletter.

String Camp is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year. The two-week summer program offers lessons in playing violin, viola, cello and bass; classes cover music theory, ear training, improvision, and approaches to chamber music.

This past fall, Somerville Public Schools launched their Sistema afterschool music program. The program is open to third and fourth graders, and is run out of the East Somerville Community School. Kids who attend receive intensive training on string instruments. This music program comes on the heels of the city's instrument give-away program, which has been giving musical instruments to any school kid who wants one, since 2007.

Since 1998, Ibbetson Street Press has published a large number of poetry books from new and emerging authors. They also publish a literary magazine called "Ibbetson Street Magazine."

Somerville's Open Air Circus is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. The Circus offers a wide variety of classes for kids-- including in juggling, stilt-walking, and magic tricks. According to their website, the organization's aim is to "encourage neighborhood participation in the arts, and to promote leadership and self-esteem for children and teens."


forum on Somerville's creative life - 2/2-2/15/13

Boston Free Radio is a member-run, independent online radio station that is broadcast out of SCAT's building in Union Square. Since 2011, the station has run shows in a number of different languages; their dj's have complete control over their own programs. Any Massachusetts resident can become a member by going through orientation, and paying a membership fee.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 1/16-2/1/13

Thomas Dodson is about to publish Best Indie Lit New England, an anthology of the best fiction and poetry published by independent literary magazines in the region. He initiated the project to foster community among editors and writers in New England and to provide readers with an opportunity to discover new magazines and new work.

The Nave Gallery, which is located near Teele Square, opened a second space. The new space, called the Nave Annex, is in Davis Square next to Red Bones. The Annex is the first art space to open in Davis in a number of years. Both galleries are nonprofits, and are run by volunteers.

Somerville SCAT (Somerville Community Access Television) is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Since it began in 1983, SCAT has (according to their website) "served the community through production of PSA's, various staff-facilitated programs, and coverage of community events, meetings, and political forums. We provide free meeting space for community groups, post messages on our bulletin board, provide video training and mentoring, offer access to high quality digital equipment and facilities, and operate an art gallery for local artists. The channel is well stocked with a wide variety of member-produced programs in many languages."

The Somerville Museum, which is on Central Street, is a member-supported, community-focused exhibition space. It aims to reflect the diversity of the community, and to foster cultural education and understanding. Its exhibits have included artwork by local artists, historical presentations, and displays produced with Somerville Public Schools students. It originally grew out of the Somerville Historical Society, but has functioned as its own organization since the 1980s.

The city has ten large studio buildings, and a number of smaller spaces. They range from spaces like the Washington Street Art Center, Mix-It Studios, and 226 Pearl Street that offer space for about 10 artists each-- to huge spaces like Vernon Street, Brickbottom, and Joy Street that house more than 50 artists each. All of these spaces mean that the city is home to more artists per capita than anywhere else in the US, outside of New York City.

The Somerville Arts Council is part of the Massachusetts Local Cultural Council program. Massachusetts is the only state to have such a program; there are over 300 "cultural districts" in the state that are run by over 2,500 volunteers. Somerville's cultural council is especially active.

The Museum of Bad Art (MOBA) is located in the basement of the Somerville Theatre. Since 1994, MOBA has collected, preserved, exhibited and celebrated "bad art in all its forms." It moved to its Somerville location in 2008. The original location in Dedham is scheduled to shut down soon.

In 2012, Somerville-based Candlewick Press celebrated its 20th anniversary. Candlewick is an independent press that has published hundreds of children's books.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 1/2-1/15/13

On 1/11/13, Trilingual Press and the Haitian Artists Assembly of Massachusetts held an event called "Another Face of Haiti" at the Armory. The event celebrated the release of new books and works by Haitian artists.

The Somerville Arts Council launched its Artist of the Month program. The program will feature a different creative Somervillen each month.

Somerville's New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA) celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2012. NESFA is a sci-fi publishing house, and member-supported library. It's located in Magoun Square.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 12/16/12-1/1/13

(We were on vacation. No updates for this period.)


forum on Somerville's creative life - 12/2-12/15/12

(Nothing reported)


forum on Somerville's creative life - 11/16-12/1/12

As of the last count in 2007, there were over 2,500 people in Somerville who identified themselves as a creative worker (that is, an artist or musician or writer, etc.). This represents almost 5% of the population, and is well above the national average of 1.4%.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 11/2-11/15/12

The First and Last Word Poetry Series features three poets each month. It's hosted by Harris Gardner and Gloria Mindock, and is held at the Armory on Highland Ave.

The Brickbottom Arts Building celebrated its 25th anniversary. The building offers studio space for over 150 artists. It was the first large studio space to open in Somerville.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 10/16-11/1/12

(We were on vacation. No updates for this period.)


forum on Somerville's creative life - 10/2-10/15/12

Rajiv Ramaiah created a subway-map themed public art piece for Artbeat. He then donated it to the Somerville Library. It's now on display at the Davis Square branch.

The 7th annual Honk festival took place on the weekend of October 6th. Over 35 marching bands took place, drawing thousands of visitors.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 9/16-10/1/12

City officials agreed to ask the zoning board to let the Armory Arts Center remain open late, cook food on site, and serve alcohol during events. While the final decision is up to the Zoning Board, this is very promising for the Armory, which recently declared that it couldn't remain open without these changes. The Armory is one of the only large arts venues in the city.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 9/2-9/15/12

The Somerville Armory Arts Center asked the city's zoning board to let it extend its hours, get a full liquor license, and begin cooking food on-site. The Armory has been struggling financially, and has said that it needs these changes in order to remain open. Neighbors of the Armory are fighting these changes, since the space's longer business hours and increased traffic would negatively affect their lives. The Armory hosts numerous music and art events, and is home to a number of artist studios.

Creative Union, a gallery in Union Square that sold works of art made by adults with disablities, shut down after two years. The space was shared by Outside the Lines and the Walnut Street Center--both organizations that work with adults with disabilities.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 8/16-9/1/12

As a volunteer in Somerville and beyond, Nia DeYounge has served the "We Got Next: Young Christian Adult Empowerment Movement," the Roxbury International Film Festival, and currently serves as a board member of the Somerville Arts Council. In her own words she says, 'You know you really love doing something if you'll do it for free!' Through volunteering, she has been able to explore Boston, meet people with similar interests, and contribute to grassroots movements that strengthen communities and strive to make the Greater Boston area a welcoming place to live and work. She believes in the power of individuals to celebrate life while making change, and in the importance of building societies that thrive not only on monetary capital, but on meaningful social interactions and cultural exchanges.

The Nave Gallery organized an event called "Yarnstorming" in Perry Park on Saturday, August 25th. Volunteers wrapped trees, poles and fences in the park with hand-knitted pieces. The event was designed to raise awareness for the Somerville Homeless Coalition; the yarn pieces will stay up until November.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 8/2-8/15/12

Annette McGloin made a donation to the Somerville Arts Council.

David Miller attends Bagel Bards, which is a weekly get-together for poets at the Au Bon Pain in Davis Square.

Well-known Brazilian street artists, Os Gemeos were in town for their show at the ICA Boston. While here, they collaborated with local artists to create a mural in Union Square

Artisan's Asylum is a community workshop that brings access to high end manufacturing equipment to the public. We have woodworking, metalworking, welding, electronics assembly, fiber arts, digital design, bike repair and more, all under one roof. We offer training, classes, memberships, storage space, and rental studios to the local community. We house 143 rental studios, teach 20-25 classes a month, and host more than 250 members a month. We're a vibrant community of artists, craftspeople, engineers, entrepreneurs, and hobbyists, and anyone's welcome to join. Gui Cavalcanti is the president of the Asylum, which he founded in May 2010.

The Somerville Arts Council released a book about local food culture, called "Nibble." The book highlights local food stores, cuisines, and chefs.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 7/16-8/1/12

Libby plays banjo on her front porch because she wants to know what’s going on on her street and it’s less creepy than just sitting out there and staring at people passing by. She’s had more interactions with her neighbors since she started playing, and she feels more connected to her neighborhood now.

The Somerville Arts Council had their annual Artbeat Festival in Davis Square. Several dozen bands played; there were community and creative vendors; there was a parade, and interactive art projects. Several thousand people came.

Libby goes to Somerville Arts Council events because they’re fun and distinctively Somerville and are something to talk to other Somervillians about when she runs into them again at other events.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 7/2-7/15/12

An anonymous person donated money to the Somerville Arts Council.

Robert Smyth is a volunteer member of the Somerville Arts Council board, and is a member of Armory Arts Center neighborhood advisor committee.

Thomas Dodson is the founding editor of an online and print-on-demand arts & letters magazine, Printer's Devil Review. The magazine is free, open access, and currently based in Somerville. Thomas is also working with other editors in New England to produce an anthology of the best work being published by independent literary journals in the region. He took on these projects out of a desire to provide emerging writers and artists with access to publication, and readers with new voices and visions.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 6/16-7/1/12

On June 27th, there was a talk on zines at the Armory, with was organized by the Arts Council. Two long-time zine-makers told a full house about their experiences with zines and the zine community.

On June 16th, the Somerville Arts Council had a fundraiser at PA's lounge. It was a Modern Lovers tribute show, and a number of local bands played covers.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 6/2-6/16/12

Ron Newman has volunteered for a number of years at Somerville Arts Council events, including ArtBeat and the Illuminations Trolley Tour.

Mihai Dinulescu is member of Artisan’s Asylum, which is a large, shared warehouse that serves as the studio and workspace of artists, tinkerers, and various other creative Somerville people. He makes movies. He is also part of CEMMI, the Collaborative Electronic Mixed Media Institute, which “inspires, enables, and promotes technological creativity by providing education, shared resources, and events for members, students, and the public at large.”

On Sunday, June 3th, the city shut down part of Broadway for the first SomerStreets festival of the year. Despite the rain, hundreds and hundreds of people came out to watch the parade, hear bands, and mingle with their neighbors.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 5/16-6/1/12

Susan Putnins volunteered for the Arts at the Armory iBall.

The Washington Street Art Center is home to about a dozen artists. It also has a gallery, and hosts a number of events. For instance, recently it hosted a launch party for a clothing company called La Parca recently; a show of a number of local bands; a Eurovision watching party; and a number of art shows.

An anonymous person donated money to the Somerville Arts Council.

On May 19th, the Arts Council put together the second annual Porch Fest. Over 100 musicians gave free concerts from front porches of homes in Somerville.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 5/2-5/16/12

Neil Horsky leads creativity workshops at Creative Union Gallery in Union Square using arts-based games of his own invention.  Participants include Somerville community members, artists, educators, and game enthusiasts.

Somerville artists opened up their spaces for Somerville Open Studios. The annual event featured over 400 artists this year.  


forum on Somerville's creative life - 4/16-5/1/12

David T. plays in Factory Seconds, a local 'honk' band. He recently published the zine 'Blind Date and Cyborg Sweetie,' with Alana K., and offered it for sale or trade at the recent Somerville Zine Thing.

Rajiv Ramaiah has been a working artist in Somerville since 2009. He creates digital art, and wood sculptures.

Earlier this year, the state House Ways and Means Committee recommended cutting $1.2m from the Mass Cultural Council's budget. On April 24th, the House body just reversed this recommendation, and proposed to add another $300k!

Alana K. made a zine with another Somerville community member (David T.), and wrote a blog post to celebrate and publicize local zine communities.

Marji Gere is a Somerville-based musician, teacher and puppeteer. She and Dan Sedgwick produced the “Shelly and Zipper Show,” which was a milk jug shadow puppet show with live music. She also produced the “Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show,” a feature-length tabletop garbage puppet show with An Exciting Event, a 12-piece ensemble of puppeteer/musicians; and wrote and illustrated the Moondog Madrigal Puppet Show book, which was formatted and handmade by Seattle bookmaker Moriah Neils and members of An Exciting Event. Other ventures included building a cranky show, putting together a toy theater piece, making a few marionettes, and making a teddy bear completely out of old clothes for her 4-year-old nephew.

Rajiv Ramaiah has volunteered for Somerville Open Studios for the past two years.

On April 28th, the Washington Street Art Center (in Somerville) & Rifrákt hosted "The (In)visible Artists Town Hall". The meeting focused on ways to make the Boston area better known for the arts.

Marji Gere composes and rehearses xenharmonic (sometimes called microtonal) music with Dan Sedgwick, and friends in Illinois.She also rehearses and performs violin/piano concert pieces with Dan. She works as a violinist/camp director at Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music, a summer music festival in Sullivan, NH; and teaches weekly private violin and piano lessons to youth in Charlestown. She playing violin in the Boston Public Quartet, a professional string quartet-in-residence in Boston Public Schools. With the Boston Public Quartet, Marji co-directs musiConnects, the non-profit organization that gives free music lessons and chamber music education to children in Mattapan and Roslindale.


forum on Somerville's creative life - 3/31-4/15/12

PJ donated money to the Somerville Arts Council.

Anyahlee Suderman painted a mural on a wall on Charlestown St.

EA served on the Somerville Arts Council board for 6 years (for 3 years as the chair). During that time, she helped organize numerous SAC events and fundraisers, and helped with the grant-giving process. She also helped run the Bizarre Bazaar. All of this was volunteer work.

On April 11, the Massachusetts House of Representatives announced is proposed budget for next fiscal year. It included $1.3 less for the Massachusetts Cultural Council; which represents a 13% decrease in funding.

An anonymous person donated money to the Somerville Arts Council.

Anyahlee Suderman works at the Creative Union Gallery in Union Square, where she manages the gallery's large pool of local volunteers, promotes, plans events and conceptualizes on going projects. Volunteers can be high school students or adults, and work 3 hours shifts weekly or bi-weekly. Get in touch if you want to volunteer or buy a gorgeous work of art and help support one of the poorest populations in the world!

Loki has run an art gallery in Somerville for a number of years. She has also produced a large number of public events and fundraisers-- both as part of the gallery, and with the Arts Council.

Gregory Jenkins has been the director of the Somerville Arts Council for 11 years. As part of his job, he has helped organize a large number of events each year; and has been involved in fundraising for the Council.

Jon Bernhardt also served on the SAC board for 6 years, and as the chair for one year. He helped organize numerous SAC events, and helped with the grant-giving process. This was volunteer work.




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Community: $27.10
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