The Art Studio of Joanne Tarlin
Before children, one of my favorite past times was to go to Open Studios. Held everywhere from Jamaica Plain to Dorchester, Cambridgeport, Brookline, Newton to the South End, Open Studios offer a chance to see artists at work, to see a greater range of their art and to talk to the artists themselves. When my kids were babies, it was easy to put them into slings and backpacks. But as soon as they could walk, Open Studios felt out of the question. I was just too fearful of my son crashing into elegant glass work, smooshed Cherrios on paints or fingerprints on an oil painting.
This past Saturday when my boys were with their dad, I was able to head back into the world of art. And I picked well, as it was the opening weekend for SOWA Sundays. SOWA is the acronym for South of Washington Street-a previously lesser known section of the South End. From now until October, each Sunday from 10 to 4, you can head to SOWA, have free parking (!) and explore.
I started at the SOWA Open Market. An outdoor crafts and food fair, there was a glorious range of handicrafts and arts. I loved the colorful products for children, the handcrafted jewelry, reprinted vintage photos and ceramics.
I was particularly impressed with the adorable plush toys of Zooguu, the reprinted 19th century photos and the adorable children's clothing. What made me happiest, though, was that one of my favorite artists, Mike Bryce was there. The irony? I had almost headed to Providence that day to buy his work at the Rhode Island Farmer's Market/ Open Studios. Instead, by the end of the day, I had purchased my first 3 oil paintings from him, which now grace my new apartment. (**Added note: if you want to see more of his paintings, click on my "Rhode Island" link here. You will see images at his studio. You can also check out his website here. Finally, you can e-mail Mike directly to double check that he will be at SOWA on Sunday and Providence on Saturday. His address is firstname.lastname@example.org)
There are also a few great food stands. I stopped to talk to David Gilson of the Herb Lyceum. (His son is the talented Wil Gilson of Garden at the Cellar). He was kind enough to treat me to a jar of their Orange, Lavender Buttermilk dressing. There are also soups, in flavors such as pea and mint or carrot cardamom whipped up by Chef Paul Callahan.
Then, next was Silverbrook Farm from Dartmouth. They had both cattails (which they said taste like mild scallions), and eggs that came in shades of blues, greys and speckled browns.
The eggs themselves cooked up into golden, soft scrambles that my son and I have eaten for breakfast each day this week. Both the Danish Pastry House and When Pigs Fly offered samples of their tempting sweet products.
At the entrance, there was a SOWA Food and Produce Market that was pretty...unimpressive. Perhaps it will improve as the Farmer's Market Season kicks in.
Next door was the SOWA Antiques Market, which features antique and vintage jewelry, furniture and clothes.
One of the best parts of this past weekend (May 15th and 16th), was that it included the SOWA Arts Walk. During this time, the artists also opened their studios to meet the artists and to see their work.
My favorite building continues to be at 450 Harrison Avenue. I always check out the photographs of Debby Kirm, but it is the chance to see so much art in its space of origin that is so exciting. Don't worry if you missed it, as the studios of the South End Artists will be open on Friday evenings, from 5 to 9 on June 4th, July 2nd and August 6th.
SOWA Sundays, 540 Harrison Avenue, May through October 25th, 10 to 4.