For 14 years, the Artists Group of Charlestown (AGC) has been promoting visual arts in this Boston neighborhood, holding its annual Art in the Park festival in City Square Park, where fine artists and artisans present their creative works and handcrafted wares. This year, the Art in the Park event will be held on September 10.
CBSBoston.com recently talked to artists and AGC members Susannah Ford and Marcia Crumley about the group and the annual festival, and about the local arts scene.
CBSBoston.com: How did the Artists Group of Charlestown start, and what is its mission?
Susannah Ford:The Artists’ Group of Charlestown (AGC) is a non-profit 501(c)(3) and was formed in 1997 by a group of local artists dedicated to encouraging the development of the visual arts in Charlestown. The group incorporated in 2002. Throughout its history, it has sought to promote awareness and appreciation of the visual arts through instructional and educational programs, as well as exhibits of the works of member and non-member artists.
CBSBoston.com: The Art in the Parks is in its 14th year, why do you think it has endured for s0 long, what makes it unique compared to other art festivals?
Marcia Crumley: Charlestown has a lot of neighborhood spirit and camaraderie. The park where we hold our annual Art in the Park event (City Square Park) is a central part of the community, but it’s also very welcoming to outsiders. It’s situated right along the Freedom Trail, so our festival always draws a great mix of local residents and out-of-town and foreign visitors. The park is overgrown and leafy, with wandering pathways — it’s more like an exploratory walk through the woods than a “typical” art show with row after row of booths.
Susannah Ford: This will only be my 2nd year participating in Art in the Park, but last year I was pleasantly surprised by how excellent it was! I loved that there were many families and young couples that strolled around looking to buy original art and have conversations with the artists. I was struck by the quality and variety of artwork at Art in the Park – everything from paintings, drawings, and sculpture to stained glass, pottery, jewelry, and painted chairs!
CBSBoston.com: Can you tell us a bit about you and your art—how did you get started as an artist, what inspires you?
Susannah Ford: I’ve been an artist for as long as I can remember and have always been influenced by my love of swimming, water, and bright colors. Throughout my elementary and high school years I drew large drawings of mermaids for my family and created big posters for my swim teams. I went to Brown University and graduated in May 2010 with a bachelor of arts in Visual Art. In college I focused on developing my skills in mixed-media drawings on paper and oil on canvas paintings. Both my drawings and paintings are centered on abstract, colorful renditions of sand dollars and seashells. The many patterns, shapes, and sizes of shells I have found on the beaches of Cape cod inspire me and constantly cause me to explore new ideas. Over the past few years my drawings have become increasingly complex and detailed with many patterns and layers of watercolor and pencil.
CBSBoston.com: What do you think of the local arts scene in Boston, and Charlestown, specifically? Is the arts community very supportive?
Marcia Crumley: There’s so much talent in Boston in every field, engineering, life sciences, you name it! Boston’s really a university town, and Charlestown is very much a Boston neighborhood, so it’s very open to new ideas and talent. I’ve found that Charlestown, and its arts community, is very welcoming to new talent. Charlestown sometimes gets overlooked because it’s a relatively small neighborhood in Boston, but there’s an awful lot happening in the local arts scene!
Susannah Ford: Boston not only has several high-quality museums but is also sprinkled with many art galleries in every town, neighborhood, and suburb. Not only are Boston’s galleries and museums full of art, but also its amazing restaurants so there is nearly an infinite amount of places to submit your art and have it seen for emerging artists. When I was looking for a place to rent a studio a year ago, I visited several artist group/studio buildings in Boston and Somerville, but when I came to the StoveFactory studios, home of the AGC, I fell in love with the old brick factory building, the people I met in the group, and the studios, gallery and artwork it has. The artist members and non-artist members have been extremely supportive of exhibitions, open studios, drawing classes, and other events held at the StoveFactory. In the past few months I have been working to bring social media to the AGC, creating an official Facebook page for events and information about our amazing group. The AGC board and artists have been so receptive and helpful in the process.
Art in the Park will be held on Saturday, September 10 (rain date Sunday, September 11), 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., at City Square Park, Charlestown, MA.
Interview by Stephanie Valera, CBS Local