Boston is home to a vibrant arts community where hundreds of artists have settled in studios in neighborhoods all across the city. My favorite way to experience the city’s local art scene is to visit artists’ open studios, and fortunately, there are plenty of opportunities to do so. If you’ve never been, open studios provide the public with a peek into artists’ work spaces where they will show you their work, their processes, their studios and a little of what it means to be an artist here. The artwork generally covers a range of disciplines—painting, photography, printmaking, sculpture, jewelry, fiber, glass, metal, wood, ceramics and mixed media. Most of what you’ll see is for sale, giving you a rare chance to buy art directly from the artists themselves. Open studios also provide an opportunity to experience self-guided tours of Boston’s neighborhoods, or for some Boston residents, it lets them see their own neighborhoods in a new light.
On a gorgeous fall Sunday afternoon last month, following some open houses, I spent some time visiting the Sound End Open Studios where over 250 of the city’s artists and craftsman opened their doors. It’s the only time during the year when all the major art buildings in the South End are open to the public, including the Boston Center for the Arts, Laconia Lofts, ArtBlock and the Piano Factory. If you missed this year’s event (watch for it next year) and are interested in experiencing the South End artists’ community, head to 450 Harrison Ave. for “First Fridays,” when over 60 artists and over a dozen galleries open their doors to art lovers from 5 to 9 p.m. on the first Friday of each month.
The South End, however, is just one of the many neighborhoods where residents and tourists alike can experience open studios. Here’s a line-up of open studios throughout Boston and some in nearby Somerville from now through the holiday season:
Fort Point Arts Community: The 34th annual Fort Point Open Studios takes place October 18 – 20 in converted brick and timber warehouses that are home to more than 150 artists’ studios. Free parking is available in the Central Parking Lot on Binford Street off of A Street.
Dorchester Arts Collaborative: Sixty-plus artists will exhibit in seven locations across Dorchester on October 19th and 20th from 12:00 – 5:00. The event kicks off on October 18th with live performances in the Blackbox Theatre at Codman Academy from 6 – 9 p.m. http://dac-online.org
South Boston Open Studios: Meet dozens of South Boston’s artists and check out what’s new in the local arts scene in a former rum distillery on November 2ndand 3rd from noon to 6 p.m. at The Distillery Building at 516 East Second Street in South Boston. http://www.southbostonopenstudios.org/
Roslindale Open Studios: The 9th annual Roslindale Open Studios takes place on November 2nd and 3rd from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Visit the website for visitor information and a map to the artists’ locations.
Fenway Studios: The 2013 Fenway Open Studios is scheduled for November 17th from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. at 30 Ipswich Street, which also happens to be the oldest continuously operating artists’ building in the country.
Allston Arts District: Approximately 40 artists will show their work on November 9th and 10th from noon to 6 p.m. All studios are within easy walking distance to one another. http://www.allstonarts.org/index.html
Brickbottom and Joy Street Open Studios, Somerville: More than 60 artists will be showing their work at Brickbottom Artist Association’s 26th annual event on Saturday and Sunday, November 23rd and 24th, from noon to 6 p.m. at 1 Fitchburg Street in Somerville. While you’re in the area, visit Joy Street Studios, just two blocks away, where over 50 artists will be hosting open studios, too.
Artists Group of Charlestown: In conjunction with the Charlestown Holiday Stroll, the Stove Factory Gallery, also home to 18 art and design studios, will be open December 7th and 8th from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 532 Medford Street.
Vernon Street Studios, Somerville: Artists welcome the public into their workspaces Saturday and Sunday, December 7th and 8th from noon to 6 p.m. at 6 and 20 Vernon Street in Somerville. http://www.vernonstreet.com/
If you haven’t been to an open studio in Boston… and even if you have, consider putting one of these events on your fall weekend agenda. It’s likely you’ll appreciate the experience, see some incredible talent and find a unique piece of art for yourself or for a special person in your life. And, it’s never too early to start your holiday shopping!