Michael Albano and Eden Edwards Host Dinner to Support Apollinaire in the Park

Michael Albano and Eden Edwards Host Dinner to Support Apollinaire in the Park

Chelsea residents Michael Albano and Eden Edwards have been supporting the Apollinaire Theatre for seven years by throwing a dinner party in their beautiful eclectic home to raise money to support the theatre’s free, outdoor, summer Apollinaire in the Park productions.  “Of all the things Apollinaire does, it’s their best service to the community,” says Michael.

Michael, a Somerville native, first moved to Chelsea in 1995 and soon began looking for ways to get involved in the city. “My father was always a community activist,” says Michael. “It was just what you did in my family.” He was a part of the Chelsea Collaborative and Green Space (now GreenRoots), and was the chairman of the Chelsea Planning Board for four years. After the downturn in the economy, Michael turned his focus to his business. When he was ready to serve the community again, he found Apollinaire Theatre Company.

Michael joined the Apollinaire in the Park committee, after a decline in funding forced the cancellation on the 2011 show. He and Eden’s generous support of the theatre has grown into an exceptionally fun and memorable annual dinner in their home featuring Michael’s cooking, and performances from the Apollinaire in the Park cast. This summer Apollinaire is producing Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Cast members will be performing “Pyramus and Thisbe,” Midsummer’s play within a play, at the party.

On making Chelsea their home, Michael says, “Chelsea found me.” Eden, a Nebraska native who moved to Chelsea in 2001 adds that she feels “lucky to have found Chelsea.” The couple describes their home as a “Victorian beach house.” The Victorian details have a nautical flair, such as the banisters with waves carved into them. It was built in 1895 by a shipping captain from Beacon Hill as his second home and was the first home built in its Chelsea neighborhood. At the time it was constructed, the captain would have had an unobstructed view of the beach he could walk to.

-Michael’s journey as a cook began when he was just eight and made his first pizza. His father, who dabbled in the restaurant business, was the cook in the home. Michael’s culinary style is influenced French, American, and of course Italian cuisine (he lived in Italy for a number of years). He worked in the famed Ciro’s restaurant in Boston and enthusiastically describes himself as a food-lover.

Michael will be serving up a variety of hors d’oeuvres, vegetables, ravioli, New York strip steak, and his popular roasted Tuscan chicken and au gratin potatoes with wine, beer, and soft drinks. (Eden looks out for the vegetarians!) Apollinaire actor Ann Carpenter is known for contributing her famous vegetarian lasagna. There will also be desserts from Pan y Café. For wine enthusiasts, there will be a mini wine tasting/pairing offered from Eden and Michael’s reserve as an add-on for partygoers.

While hosting the dinner is big undertaking—Eden’s sister, agents from Michael’s real estate office, and friends often help them prepare—Michael and Eden are very happy that it has become a tradition in the community as well as in their home. “When people involved with the Chelsea community are in my house, it’s the most fun nights here apart from having family,” says Eden. The party always happens in June, not just to poise it to best serve fund-raising efforts for the theatre’s July performances, but also because Michael’s birthday is in June. The party doubles as a celebration for him where he can get friends who are not from Chelsea involved in supporting Apollinaire.

This year’s party is on June 15th at 7:00pm at the couple’s home: 32 Crest Ave., Chelsea.  Tickets can be purchased through the theatre’s website: www.apollinairetheatre.com, at the door, or by calling 617-887-2336.

Apollinaire’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream runs July 11 – 29 at 7:30pm in Chelsea’s waterfront PORT Park, 99 Marginal Street. ALL performances are FREE. Contact the theatre to learn about opportunities to get involved with the show!

Apollinaire in the Park is a program of Apollinaire Theatre Company (ATC), Chelsea’s award-winning professional theatre.  ATC produces adventurous contemporary theatre, and free outdoor summer shows. The ATC’s home is the Chelsea Theatre Works in Chelsea Square, which houses their three theatres: the Apollinaire Theatre; the Riseman Family Theatre, home of their youth program, the Apollinaire Play Lab; and the Black Box—a co-working rental theatre for Boston Area performing artists. Visit them on the web at www.apollinairetheatre.com.

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Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

Former TND Director Ann Houston to Depart, become CEO of Merged Non-Profit

The Neighborhood Developers (TND) announced this week in a release ahead of its 40th Anniversary celebration that long-time Executive Director Ann Houston will be departing to become the new CEO of a new, merged community development corporation.

“TND will honor outgoing Executive Director Ann Houston as she takes on the new role of CEO of Opportunity Communities, where she will continue to provide leadership and vision to TND through this exciting new partnership,” read the announcement.

Houston was not immediately available for comment on the move.

TND declined to comment on the matter as well this week.

The announcement indicated Houston would be the new CEO of Opportunity Communities.

That new collaboration is with Roxbury’s Nuestra Communidad Community Development Corporation (CDC), a partnership between that organization and TND that launched in April.

“In April 2018, we launched a company for back office operations known as Opportunity Communities (OppCo) with a sister organization, The Neighbor Developers (TND), based in Chelsea,” read the website for the new partnership. “This is our newest partnership, designed to achieve better results for the Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan neighborhoods we serve. There is no change to Nuestra’s board, staff, leadership, mission, office, programs, projects, agreements, relationships and commitments to neighbors and local stakeholders.

“This new company allows Nuestra and TND to combine our back office operations and staff,” it continued. “By centralizing our accounting, purchasing, data collection, HR, IT and other management functions, Nuestra can most efficiently deliver high-quality, effective services and programs for Roxbury, Dorchester and Mattapan.”

Houston has been the face of TND since it planted its flag in the Box District many years ago and built out several blocks of what used to be derelict industrial properties. Using a formula of creating civic awareness in a mixed-income development of subsidized and market-rate housing, TND created a successful model in the Box District.

Since that time, they have developed other properties in Chelsea, including the old American Legion Post that houses homeless veterans in supportive housing. They are currently developing the old French Club into affordable housing.

In year’s past, TND moved into Revere to develop affordable and senior housing there. It has just expanded to Everett, where a proposal is on the table for a large senior housing development there on the former site of St. Therese’s Church campus.

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On May Day, Thousands to March For Worker and Immigrant Rights

On May Day, Thousands to March For Worker and Immigrant Rights

On Tuesday, May 1, International Workers’ Day workers, immigrants and supporters from across the region will join with labor and community organizations, starting at 4:00 p.m. in East Boston, and marching to Chelsea and Everett to participate in an act of unity and defiance against the Trump administration’s attacks against workers and immigrants.

Labor, community and immigrants’ rights organization will make clear that the Trump administration’s systematic attempt to criminalize immigrants not only assaults the civil rights of communities of color, but also opens a dangerous path of intolerance that is already having dramatic consequences in communities across the country as hate crimes against immigrants, and those perceived to be foreign continue to spread.

Organizers and participants will also highlight how unions have been defending their rights’ by collective resistance. Additionally, we will encourage our state legislature to pass safeguards that protect our communities and the rule of law by separating local law enforcement and the federal immigration deportation machinery.

The day will start with a multi-community roundtable at the Chelsea Collaborative, 318 Broadway, at 10 a.m. with Esther Lopez, secretary-treasurer of the United Food and Commercial Workers International (UFCW).

The march will start in East Boston at 4 p.m. in Liberty Plaza, then head to Chelsea City Hall. At 4:30 p.m., the combined group will march from Chelsea to Glendale Park in Everett. There, a rally and cultural program will take place in the park at 5:30 p.m.

The May 1 Coalition of Chelsea, Everett & East Boston includes the Chelsea Collaborative, La Comunidad Inc., City Life/Vida Urbana, International UFCW, UFCW Local 1445, Raise Up, Fight for $15, MIRA, American Friends Service Committee, MassCOSH, SEIU 32BJ, SEIU 509, Jobs With Justice, New England Carpenters Union, Mass. AFL-CIO, Community Labor United, Chinese Progressive Association, Brazilian Women’s Group, UUMassAction, Chelsea Uniting Against the War, IWCC, Projecto Hondureño, Workers World, EBECC, Painters Union, NOAH, Brazilian Workers Center, CAN, Comite de Hondureños Unidos de Massachusetts.

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Chelsea Schools Announce Schmidt as Principal for New School

Chelsea Schools Announce Schmidt as Principal for New School

Chelsea has a new leader for what will be a new school, as current Chelsea High Assistant Principal Ron Schmidt has been tapped to lead the new Chelsea Opportunity Academy, which starts on July 1.

Supt. Mary Bourque announced the hire this week, soon after she announced the organization of the Opportunity Academy, which is funded through a $750,000 grant from the Barr Foundation.

“A new school, needs a new principal,” she wrote. “It is therefore, with great pleasure that I announce the appointment of Chelsea High School’s Assistant Principal, Mr. Ronald Schmidt, to Principal of the Chelsea Opportunity Academy, effective July 1, 2018. The appointment of Mr. Schmidt to Principal of COA was an easy one to make as a Superintendent. Mr. Schmidt’s education as well as his deep career experience has prepared him to run his own school – a different type of school. He is committed to students in need of a different high school experience to be successful… Mr. Schmidt was hired as Assistant Principal of Chelsea High School in 2003 and has served the students and families of Chelsea with all of his energy and heart.”

The Barr Foundation awarded Chelsea Schools the ‘Engage New England: Doing High School Differently’ grant to purposefully implement the Opportunity Academy in the 2018-2019 school year. It will be the district’s 10th school and second high school.

The Opportunity Academy will be a school within a school model, so it will be located on the campus of Chelsea High School.

The design of the school is to serve students who are overage, under-credited, and who are struggling with the traditional American high school experience.

It will provide students with flexible scheduling, blended learning, and individualized support in order that students make continual progress towards earning a high school diploma.

“Mr. Schmidt is the only one I want to lead this high school, so great is my faith and confidence in him,” wrote Bourque.

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Thomsen Holding Court:Legendary NBA Writer from Swampscott will Hold Book Signing in Winthrop

Thomsen Holding Court:Legendary NBA Writer from Swampscott will Hold Book Signing in Winthrop

Swampscott resident Ian Thomsen, one of the nation’s leading sportswriters for the past three decades, will be in Winthrop on April 19 to talk about his new book, “The Soul of Basketball: The Epic Showdown Between Lebron, Kobe, Doc and Dirk That Saved the NBA.”

Thomas will be speaking about the book and his illustrious career and signing autographs during a special appearance at the Cottage Park Yacht Club.

Thomsen, considered a giant in the writing profession (and not only because he stands a towering 6 feet, 6 inches tall), has a strong affinity for Winthrop. His wife, Maureen (Ford), and well-known Winthrop resident Kathleen Doherty are sisters. He is a proud uncle to Kathleen’s four, talented daughters, who excelled in sports at Winthrop High School. Thomsen has visited the town on many occasions and enjoys many of the restaurants here, especially Alia Ristorante.

Thomsen’s book, which focuses on the NBA’s 2010-11 season following LeBron James’s nationally televised “Decision” to play for the Miami Heat, is drawing rave reviews in advance of its April 17 release. His friend, Jackie MacMullan, with whom he interned at the Boston Globe, gave the book a “thumbs-up” during an appearance on ESPN’s “Around The Horn” this week.

It’s easy to see why Thomsen’s book would instantly become a “must-read” for fans of the world’s greatest basketball league. Following his graduation from Northwestern, which sits at the top of the list of college journalism programs in the country alongside Columbia and Missouri, Thomsen began working at the Globe where he covered three NBA finals of Larry Bird versus Magic Johnson. He was also courtside in Barcelona for the original Dream Team’s gold medal-winning performance in the Summer Olympics.

Thomsen said the book focuses on the 2010-11 NBA season that began with NBA prodigy LeBron James telling Jim Gray on “The Decision” that he would be leaving the Cleveland Cavaliers and going to “take my talents to South Beach (Miami).”

“At that time it looked like the NBA was really in trouble,” said Thomsen. “So LeBron was supposed to be the savior for the league, the next Michael Jordan, and over the course of several years, culminating with that show, he turned himself into the villain. He was the most hated athlete in America after that show, combined with the following day in Miami when he did that rally and pronounced that he would win five…six titles for Miami.”

The NBA was heading toward a lockout at that time, and there was talk of a shutdown of the league following the season due to a dispute between the owners and the NBA Players Union.

“That’s why I did the book – it was about that season and what was it really about,” said Thomsen. “Is this a game of making money and drawing audiences? Was is a business? Or was it something more valuable than a business? And that’s how the publisher came up with the title, “The Soul of Basketball” because it’s really trying to find out what the soul of the game is. It’s something more than money and fame.”

Thomsen’s conclusion: “That basketball becomes the sport of the American dream and that the biggest names in basketball are driven by something more valuable than money and fame.”

The NBA player who helped Thomsen figure out that basketball is the sport of the American dream was 7-footer Dirk Nowitzki, who has had a Hall of Fame-caliber career for the Dallas Mavericks.

“Dirk’s the hero of the book,” said Thomsen. “He’s an immigrant [from Germany] and he changed the game. He’s the first 7-footer to shoot three-pointers. He was drawn here by the ideals of basketball. He was never a commercial guy. He showed by winning the NBA championship in 2011 that it’s a dream for anyone around the world to play the American game, come to the greatest league in the world, and beat everybody at the game. He lived out his version of the American Dream and helps us come up with an identity for our sport.”

In compiling interviews for the book, Thomsen used his sterling reputation among the NBA community to gain inside access to players. Thomsen had a longtime connection to Nowitzki’s basketball mentor, Holger Geschwindner, about whom he had written a feature during his tenure as a writer for Sports Illustrated.

“He taught Dirk how to shoot the basketball – he invented a shooting stroke for Dirk and they practiced every day: footwork, balance, the proper angle and trajectory, keep your mouth open while you’re shooting, every last detail,” related Thomsen.

In addition to Nowitzki, the other main characters in the book are LeBron James, Kobe Bryant, and Doc Rivers.

“Kobe was really good for the book,” said Thomsen. “I joined Sports illustrated at the end of 1997, and I was assigned to do a story about Kobe and the Lakers. He was 19 years old, and we went to an outdoor restaurant in Santa Monica and we talked for four hours. The story made the cover. I think that relationship helped convince Kobe to talk to me for this book.”

 Asked about the notorious Sports Illustrated cover jinx, Thomsen replied, “Kobe turned out okay.”

No less a brilliant sports columnist than Winthrop resident Leigh Montville, formerly of the Boston Globe and Sports illustrated, is praising Thomsen’s book.

Writes Montville on the book’s jacket, “Travel back to the 2010 season, when LeBron and his two amigos arrived in Miami, when Dirk asserted himself in Dallas, when the league went through an economic and social convulsion. Marinate to see all the repercussions. Thomsen tells the tale with the deft prose and snappy anecdotes and brings us all up to speed on what might come next.”

Winthrop fans will have the opportunity to meet the author in person and talk some basketball with him next week.

And that’s going to be hoop heaven for those who have followed the game.

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Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

Re-Branding of Wynn Boston Harbor Tower Under ‘Serious Consideration’

The Wynn Boston Harbor tower hasn’t even reached the top floor, and already the name on the top is under serious reconsideration following the exit of the company’s founder Steve Wynn regarding sexual misconduct allegations.

Responding to comments from Gov. Charlie Baker and Attorney General Maura Healey, Wynn Boston Harbor president Bob DeSalvio said they are seriously considering changing the name to not include ‘Wynn.’

“We are at this time considering a re-brand of the project and we’ll have an announcement on that at a later date,” said DeSalvio following the Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) meeting on March 29.

He said he didn’t have a time frame, though, and it isn’t expected to be announced this week.

“It’s something we are actively considering right now,” he said.

The name change has seemingly been coming for several weeks, but the local Wynn team and the Las Vegas team had all been silent on the issue.

In comments to the Boston Globe in February following his ascension to CEO of the company, Matt Maddox indicated that a sudden re-brand of the company worldwide would be very difficult. He said that while most American customers associate the company with Steve Wynn, many of the Asian customers associate the brand simply with five-star luxury. Changing a well-known name, he said, cannot happen overnight.

The local thinking has been quite different, though, as the project has not been completed. Though the name has contained ‘Wynn’ for the last two years, nothing has yet been affixed to the building – making a change much easier here than elsewhere in the company’s existing portfolio of properties.

Massachusetts Gaming Commission (MGC) Chair Steve Crosby said he didn’t have a strong opinion on the matter, but said Wynn would do what it best for its business.

“For the record, I’m agnostic on that,” he said. “It’s the first I’ve heard they’re doing that. At the moment, it’s a decision for them to make.”

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Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky Announces as Independent in Congressional Bid

Nathan Smolensky, a non-profit manager from Somerville, has announced that he will be running as an Independent for Massachusetts’s 7th District Congressional seat.

“We need Independent voices to speak up,” says Smolensky, “now more than ever. The parties are becoming increasingly polarized, and that means more strong-arming and undermining in our politics, and somehow even less getting done. The Democrats and Republicans are locked in this endless tug-of-war, and the American people are paying the price. But we can break the partisan stranglehold by demonstrating a formula for Independent success, and if we do that we can really change things.”

Smolensky’s own brand of non-partisan politics is focused on themes of empowering local solutions by making the federal government more symbiotic with local efforts, improving government efficiency by addressing wasteful and unsustainable spending programs, and making long-term policy possible by creating a blueprint for Independent success that can pave the way for a shift of the political landscape away from the volatile pendulum swings of the current paradigm.

The 27-year-old Somerville resident is currently best known for his work with the non-profit Massachusetts Chess Association, where he has served as president since 2013. In that role, he has spearheaded the organization’s educational initiative, Chess for Early Educators, which currently has pilots for curricular programs run by regular schoolteachers in several Somerville public schools.

Massachusetts’s 7th Congressional District is comprised of the municipalities of Somerville, Everett, Chelsea, and Randolph, roughly 70 percent of the city of Boston, and about half of the city of Cambridge and the town of Milton. Since taking its current shape in 2013, it has been won by incumbent Democrat Michael E. Capuano, also of Somerville, without a general election challenge. Its lopsided nature, however, can be a boon for independents, argues Smolensky:

“That’s the beauty of running in a district like this one. There’s no third-party or spoiler stigma. You’re not asking anyone to throw their vote away. You don’t have that bogeyman of the greater evil to scare people away from voting Independent. This is the kind of environment we [Independents] can thrive in, and, thanks in part to gerrymandering, there are a lot of places we can find it.”

Currently, Capuano is facing a primary challenge in Boston City Councilor Ayanna Pressley. No other candidates have announced intentions to run.

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Housing Families Annual Legislative Breakfast Set for March 28

Housing Families Annual Legislative Breakfast Set for March 28

Housing Families will host its annual Legislative Breakfast on Wednesday, March 28, from 8:30 – 10:00 a.m. to raise awareness of the magnitude of family homelessness in Malden, Medford, Everett, Chelsea and Revere.

Housing Families’ Legislative Breakfast is a free event open to all and hosted at the Irish American Club, 177 West St, Malden, MA.  A complimentary light breakfast will be served starting at 8:30am and the speaker series will run from 9:00 – 10:00 am.

Housing Families’ Director of Homelessness Prevention and Advocacy Laura Rosi said, “This is an opportunity for families who have experienced homelessness to share their stories and educate others about the issue.  Community members will also have an opportunity to hear about State and local efforts to combat housing instability and learn about ways they can get involved.”

Ed Cameron, Housing Families’ CEO, added, “Our families in shelter have average income of less than $12,000 per year.  With most apartments going for over $2,000 a month in our area, they just can’t afford to keep their heads above water.”

State and local elected officials have been invited to the Breakfast.  To date, legislators scheduled to attend include: State Senator Jason Lewis, State Representative Paul Donato, Malden Mayor Gary Christenson, Medford Mayor Stephanie Muccini-Burke, Melrose Mayor Gail Infurna, City Councilor Neal Anderson, and Malden Public Schools Superintendant John Otieri.Other elected officials are expected to attend.

Special thanks to Bill Hart and the Malden Irish American Club for hosting the breakfast.

Service organizations sponsoring the breakfast are Housing Families Inc, Chelsea Collaborative, Homes for Families, and Shelter Music Boston. Housing Families is also grateful to its corporate sponsors for making this event possible: Kelliher & Callaghan, Lucey Insurance Agency, Stratford Capital Group LLC, Cataldo Ambulance, Fresco’s Roast Beef & Seafood, Hugh O’Neill’s Restaurant & Pub, Minuteman Press, New England Security, Shapiro & Hender, Yankee Pest Control, 3MG Boston, and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay and Merrimack Valley.

To RSVP, contact Patty Kelly at Housing Families 781-322-9119 x115 or pkelly@housingfamilies.org

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Chelsea Named as Finalist in Bloomberg 2018 $5M Mayors Challenge

Chelsea Named as Finalist in Bloomberg 2018  $5M Mayors Challenge

Chelsea is one of 35 Champion Cities selected this week as finalists in the 2018 U.S. Mayors Challenge, a nationwide competition that encourages city leaders to uncover bold, inventive ideas that confront the toughest problems cities face. These 35 urban innovations rose to the top of a competitive pool of more than 320 applications. The Champion Cities will now begin a 6-month testing phase where they will conduct public prototypes of their ideas with grant funding of up to $100,000 per city, a new addition to the Competition this year. The Mayors Challenge returns to the U.S. as one of the first investment in the American Cities Initiative, an effort to help U.S. cities generate innovation and advance policy.

Chelsea now advances to the six-month “Test, Learn, and Adapt” phase of the competition. Cities will refine their ideas during this process with up to $100,000, as well as personalized support from innovation experts, to test and begin building support for their urban innovations and submit a new application in August 2018. In October, four cities will receive $1 million awards and one will receive a grand prize of $5 million to bring their ideas to life.

“We received hundreds of bold and creative ideas from cities around the country in response to the 2018 Mayors Challenge, and these 35 really stood out for their potential to improve people’s lives. The next six months are a great opportunity for the cities to test their ideas and make them even more innovative and effective,” said Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and three-term Mayor of New York City.

The 35 Champion Cities performed the best against four key criteria – vision, potential for impact, implementation plan, and potential to spread to other cities. A prestigious selection committee Co-Chaired by Former Ambassador Caroline Kennedy and Former Xerox Chairman & CEO Ursula Burns and comprising distinguished policy experts, artists, academics, business executives and social innovation leaders assessed the applications.

Chelsea proposes to scale up its “Hub” crime prevention strategy. The “Hub” is a team of community and government agencies that meet weekly, identify individuals or families facing high levels of risk for crime, and immediately connect them to the services they need. Over the next six months, the Hub leaders will work with the Bloomberg team to formalize, sustain and grow the pilot, as well as build data capacity to learn, adapt, and direct limited resources towards crime prevention. Like the Canadian Hub model, on which the Chelsea Hub model is based, Chelsea expects that the Hub will readily transfer to other communities in Massachusetts and the U.S. The broader aim is for government, community and social services agencies to move from working in silos toward a collaborative effort to more effectively improve community well-being and safety.

“We’re very excited about being a finalist in the Bloomberg Challenge. We hope this opportunity will allow us to continue our work to alleviate the root causes of violence, poverty and homelessness in Chelsea, and connect residents to the help they need,” said Tom Ambrosino, Chelsea City Manager.

The 2018 Mayors Challenge builds on the success of previous Bloomberg-sponsored Challenges in the U.S. (2013), Europe (2014), and Latin America and the Caribbean (2016). For more information, visit  HYPERLINK “http://www.mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org” mayorschallenge.bloomberg.org and @BloombergCities on Twitter and Instagram.

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Local Artist at New England Water Color Society Signature Members Show

Local Artist at New England Water Color Society Signature Members Show

Explore the world of watercolors inside the Guild of Boston Artists gallery on Newbury Street, where the New England Watercolor Society (NEWS) is holding its annual Signature Members Show through March 4.

Paul McMahan from Chelsea with his painting of Preston’s Bridge

Paul McMahan from Chelsea with his painting of Preston’s Bridge

On display are a variety of styles ranging from hyperrealist to abstract, from soulful portraits to detailed images of machinery to sweeping light-struck landscapes.

The exhibit offers an exceptional opportunity for anybody to come in and appreciate the high degree of artistry and technical mastery attainable in this challenging medium.

“Watercolor is an amazingly diverse medium,” said Wendy Hale, president of NEWS and a Back Bay resident. “The palette extends from richly saturated colors to muted tones. Our members’ styles are equally varied, from the traditional Andrew Wyeth to today’s modern-edgy.”

NEWS was founded in 1885 as the Boston Watercolor Society and became the New England Watercolor Society in 1980. It is one of the oldest and most prestigious watercolor societies in America.

Some early members included American art as Thomas Allen, F. Childe Hassam, John Singer Sargent and more.

The Society has grown to over 400 members from all six New England states, of which nearly 200 are signature members.

The mission of the Society is to promote the advancement of aqua media arts throughout New England and to bring exceptional paintings using both traditional and innovative techniques to a wider public.

NEWS sponsors two juried shows each year. This show features the work of the Society’s signature members. The other show is open to all water-media artists in New England (in odd-numbered years) and throughout North America (in even-numbered years).

To become a signature member, a New England-based artist must be juried into four NEWS shows within a 10-year period, including at least one North American show.

“The one thing that is unique about the Signature Members Show is that it is always held in Boston every year and is always in February,” said Hale. “People can count on it.”

This year’s exhibition judge is Frederick C. Graff, a distinguished member of the American Watercolor Society. Graff had the hard job of determining the top 10 winners out of 79 pieces. He said he determined the winners based on their impact, composition and originality.

“With watercolor you’re not going to have a perfect painting,” said Graff. “So you take the best and see what they did with the composition and with their artistic ability.”

But what it really comes down to, Graff said, “Is what is the first thing that sticks out to you when you first walk into the room? For me, I usually know right away if I think something is on the top of the awards list.”

In connection with the exhibitions, the Society sponsors receptions and award presentations, gallery talks, demonstrations, and workshops led by nationally recognized water media experts.

Community artists and other interested supporters of NEWS can join as associate members. Signature and associate members are eligible for reduced fees for workshops for the regional and North American shows.

The Signature Members Show reception will be held on Saturday, Feb. 10 from 2 – 4 p.m. It is free and open to the public. All of the artwork on display is for sale.

New England Watercolor Society Signature Members Show, Guild of Boston Artists, 162 Newbury Street, Boston, through March 4, Tuesday through Saturday, 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Sundays 12-4 p.m. Painting demonstrations Sundays 1-3 p.m. Feb. 11, 18, and 25, and gallery talks Saturdays 1p.m. February 17 and 24 and March 3.

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