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
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.
By Seth Daniel
It was through the Chelsea Record newspaper that Ann Crotty and artist Joe Greene met – a combination that would eventually produce the Chelsea Art Walk and Charcoll Arts Group.
Crotty, who passed away last month, will bear the honorary name tagged onto this year’s 2016 Chelsea Art Walk, organizers said last week.
“After reading the December 2004 front page story about my relaunch of the Pearl Street Gallery and that I was ‘hopeful that some day Chelsea will host an Open Studios event,’ she picked up the phone and called,” said Joe Greene of the Pearl Street Gallery. “She said, ‘Hello, my name is Ann Crotty and I would like to stop by and tell you all about a Chelsea artists group I was a part of.’ How could I refuse? Ann hopped on a bus and came by Pearl Street with a stack of papers, flyers and literature from a lively group of artists in the 1990s she was a part of. As rents increased, those artists had to move out and the group disintegrated. Ann convinced me that this time we could make it work.”
From there, Crotty teamed up with Greene and they reached out to the Chelsea City Cafe and the Spencer Lofts. In November 2007, with the addition of John Kennard to the team of Crotty and Greene, the first group show took form – called ‘Made in Chelsea’ – and showed at two different venues at one time.
“The show was such a success, that as a group we decided to continue as Charcoll (Chelsea Artists Collaborative ) and to have our next event in the spring of 2009, the Chelsea Art Walk,” said Greene. “It’s safe to say there might not be a Charcoll without Ms. Crotty. This first Chelsea Art Walk was ambitious and included nine or so venues all over town. Ann found us volunteers and bus greeters to guide our visitors around the city. As the years went by, Ann was an active Charcoll member and attended nearly every Art Walk meeting with a smile and a story. We will miss her.”
With that spirit, Charcoll has dedicated this year’s Walk – which takes place on June 11 and 12 – to the memory of Ann Crotty.
Long-time contributing playwright Bob Boulrice said he came to annually present his work at the Art Walk via being a bus driver.
“Ann recruited me as a bus driver,” he said. “That’s what brought me to Art Walk. It wasn’t the artists or the fact that it’s the second best day in Chelsea every year, but it was really hearing the people on the buses talk about the positive things they had experienced that drew me in. There were so many people who hadn’t been here in many years. It was cool.”
He said with the encouragement of Crotty, he began to toy with the idea of writing a play to be acted out at Apollinaire Theatre every year. Now, he’s been doing that for seven years.
“This year’s Art Walk is dedicated in appreciation of Ann Crotty and it’s so fitting,” said Boulrice. “She was just a regular, vibrant presence who was consistently positive and was dedicated. She really was the best of the Old Chelsea and the New Chelsea.”
Crotty passed away on April 20.
The Chelsea ArtWalk organizers took a big step this year in calling in coordinator Jordy Brazo to help bring the event together and market it within the city and outside of the city.
The walk, which takes place on June 13 and 14, will feature several locations around the city to display artwork – all accessible via a shuttle that take folks around to each location. The laid back and fun weekend has become a summer favorite for residents young and old.
However, for the artists themselves, the walk has become more than just concentrating on showing their own artistic talents. Rather, it’s been an exercise in organizing and coordinating. That looks like it could change this year with Brazo, 24, a former Phoenix Charter School teacher, on the case.
“Up until now, the Chelsea ArtWalk has been organized by the same people showing artwork or creating artwork for the ArtWalk,” he said. “That took a lot away from them being able to concentrate on the work. They wanted someone to come on whose sole talk was coordinating the event and thus freeing up the artists to to concentrate on their art and exhibitions. They wanted someone to focus on the nuts and bolts so they could focus on producing their artwork. That’s what I’ve been doing.”
Brazo grew up in Cambridge and always had friends and ties to Chelsea.
He attended college at Syracuse University and returned to Boston, teaching at Phoenix for one year.
He said as a young man he began creating art by his love of skateboarding. He often became the videographer and photographer for his friends.
“That was in high school,” he said. “Then I got involved in a youth program in Cambridge on community access television producing. I made documentaries and sports videography. Later on, I began doing photos too.”
Bravo said he has been spending quite a bit of time differentiating Chelsea’s art walk from the many others that are out there. While art walks were unique at one time, they no longer are such an exclusive activity. Brazo said he has been heralding how Chelsea’s walk is actually different.
“I think art walks in general are no longer a unique event in Boston,” he said. “Every neighborhood and community has an open studio and art walk. We hope we can make the case that the Chelsea art walk is unique and create it’s identity in a saturated scene…Chelsea hasn’t changed in the ways that East Boston or the South End have. It’s important to have people see that there’s a long tradition of creativity and the arts here.”
Some of the highlights this year will be a live sculptor at the PORT Park, and also a film shown to explain where the salt comes from and the process that takes place to get it to Chelsea.
“There will be lots of activity this year at the PORT Park and it won’t just be the place to park and catch the shuttle,” he said.
Spencer Lofts Gallery will continue to celebrate its return to the scene with a resident group show.
Pearl Gallery will feature unique paintings of Chelsea by former coordinator Joe Greene.
The Community Garden will feature a scarecrow contest and a drum circle on both days.
At Apollinaire Theatre, Chelsea C
Jordy Brazo has been out and about over the last month or so coordinating the Chelsea ArtWalk, which takes place June 13 and 14. It is the first year that the Walk has hired a coordinator to organize the show.
ity Treasurer and talented playwright, Bob Boulrice, will feature an original showing of ‘Back, Schweitzer and the Wives.’ The show is free and will go on at 4 p.m. both days in Apollinaire.
Also involved will be the Residence Inn, the Bellingham-Cary House, One North, Chelsea City Cafe, Mystic Brewery and other sites as well.
For complete information on the Art Walk, visit www.chelseaartwalk.com.