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Saturday, August 30, 2014

Another Art Heaven

The Mill Girls by Mico Kaufman
Every time I visit one of these artsy small-ish New England towns I wonder, how come I didn’t move here after college and my carnival years? A small town with SO MUCH art happening seems like it woulda been perfect for me.

Apart from the fact that Lowell, New Bedford, Salem and Brattleboro, Vermont weren’t all art mecca-y in 1980 (not by a long shot — more they were depressed and struggling), I would’ve needed a batch ‘o’ pals (or one anyway) to do this with (I've never really been much of a loner type). All the folks I knew then, who were doing the commune in rural Vermont/Oregon/New York thing, weren’t my cuppa, Kevin’d gone off with the Navy and, oh yeah, I didn’t have a car. That bit seemed sorta critical.

In any case, yesterday I visited Lowell again, for a few hours. Such a great place!

There’s the Arts League of Lowell, the Brush Art Gallery and Studios, the Whistler House Museum, the New England Quilt Museum and a bunch more joints that I have just GOT to visit

Before starting my mini art tour, my friend Gene (who lives and works in Lowell) and I went to lunch at the best place EVER — Life Alive. Tag line found on their site Vegetarian food even a meat lover can crave.

 I had The Goddess (Our famous Ginger Nama Shoyu Sauce nurturing carrots, beet, broccoli, dark greens, & tofu gracing short-grain brown rice) wrap with the Island Alive Smoothie. Gene had The Adventurer (Our Sesame Ginger Nama Sauce combines with a colorful mix of corn, beets, broccoli, dark greens, shredded cheddar, tofu & tamari almonds over quinoa & short grain brown rice).

Art at Life Alive
AMAZING! And filling. I ate too much and could’ve done with a nice nap afterward. Instead, I set off for the Whistler Museum.

From WGBHArts:
The Whistler House Museum of Art, the birthplace of the artist James McNeill Whistler, was established in 1908 as the permanent home of the Lowell Art Association, Inc. The Lowell Art Association, Inc. (est. 1878) owns and operates the museum as an historic site and art museum. Built in 1823, the Whistler House represents the richness of both Lowell’s history and it's art. The museum maintains its permanent collection of late 19th and early 20th century artwork, and organizes contemporary and historical fine arts exhibitions in the adjacent Parker Gallery. The Lowell Art Association and the Whistler House Museum of Art values and encourages the development of creativity and use of art in everyday life as part of its mission.
John Singer Sargent sketch
Sadly, I missed the contemporary quilt show that’s going on now. I didn’t catch what the museum attendant lady was saying — she pointed at this brill pic, made an its-that-away gesture and then moved on to other folks. Yeah, I could’ve stopped her and said “Hey, I don’t understand. Where can I see this particular work” but I was feeling a little overwhelmed (and logey from the fab, big lunch) AND I figured I’d just stumble over it. No. Oh well. Show’s up through late September, I can go back.

The joint has art classes for kids as well as adults, an artist in residence program, lectures, musical performances, and more.

The pieces that stood out to me weren’t by Whistler. There was a gorgeous sketch by John Singer Sargent, the sculpture of Whistler by Mico Kaufman (above left) in the adjacent park and a collection of sketches and small paintings by Arshile Gorky.

Oh yeah and I was particularly taken with this copper lined tub. Of course. Which reminds me, the restroom at Life Alive? It was one big-for-a-restaurant-loo room with a bathtub filled with cactus and other succulents and artworks covering the jewel tone painted walls. I could’ve dallied in there for hours! Sadly, my camera was back at the table.

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