Two Fabulous Art Shows…One Extraordinary Afternoon

One of the events I look forward to each year during the holiday season is Craftboston, New England’s premier juried show of contemporary art, craft and design presented by The Society of Arts and Crafts. This well-established show happens twice a year—during the holiday season and in the spring. The venues within the city change as do some of the artists, but in any event, it’s always interesting and fun to see creativity and talent in so many forms.  This year, it was my good fortune that Craftboston was held in the South End on the same weekend as the SoWa (South of Washington) Holiday Market.

I planned ahead to make a day of it (as the saying goes), but first things first— an open house at a wonderful brownstone on Milford Street, in the South End’s desirable Eight Streets neighborhood. This penthouse duplex unit featured two bedrooms, two-and-a-half bathrooms and two decks, including a fabulous private roof deck with city views accessible via a full staircase, which is a real plus. The living space is very open—great for entertaining.  And, the location is steps from restaurant row, the Boston Center for the Arts and the SpeakEasy Stage Company, in the heart of where the action is. If this condo or the area sounds like one that might be of interest, I’d be happy to show it to you.

Work aside, it was a perfect December day to experience the vibrancy of the historic yet chic South End neighborhood. The holiday excitement was “in the air.” The streets were lively with shoppers, brunch goers (and their dogs), and fellow fine crafts enthusiasts as I approached the Cyclorama at the Boston Center for the Arts, a 19th century brick building, a venue known for rich cultural events, and home to Craftboston Holiday 2012. The show featured 90 artists’ creations in many forms, including home décor and furnishings, beautifully crafted jewelry, clothing and gorgeous wall art to enhance the expansive spaces in contemporary lofts or accent small alcoves in brownstones.  While it’s fun to just browse, it’s hard to leave the show without a unique holiday gift or a special treat for yourself, to which I can attest.

From there, I walked around the corner to the Benjamin Franklin Institute of Technology on Berkeley Street where more than 60 of New England’s independent designers, artists and crafters were displaying their wares at the ninth annual SoWa Holiday Market. From the fashionably chic to the hip and cutting edge, this show featured original art of all mediums and the chance to meet the artists behind the work as well. Needless to say, I easily found a few one-of-a-kind items that suited me as well others, and was glad to support the local artists.

The neighborhood was still abuzz when I left the SoWa Market right before closing, and the adjacent tree lot was bustling with adults and children alike searching for the perfect spruce to adorn their home. I wasn’t quite ready yet to leave the South End or the festive atmosphere. Tempted by many great cafés and restaurants in the area, I decided on one of my favorite go-to restaurants, Stephi’s on Tremont. With accessibility to art, fabulous dining, plenty of parks, and the ability to get more square feet for your dollar than Back Bay or Beacon Hill, for example, the vibrant and increasingly popular South End is a great place to live.