The Art World Goes Virtual This Fall With Open Studios And Workshops

Judy W. Faulk

Just a few months ago, an art opening involved a jam-packed room of patrons standing shoulder-to-shoulder in a gallery, nibbling on crudités with one hand while balancing a glass of wine in the other. There was a lot of talking going on. And laughter.

Well, this fall, things are different. Thanks to the coronavirus, while museums and galleries are open, many art events have moved online.  We’re heading into a fall art season that will feel decidedly more subdued than the busy—even overloaded—seasons of the past.

Still, there are options for art lovers coming in the form of a myriad of offerings online. No, you won’t be able to pack into an artist’s studio, or sip wine at a crowded First Friday event, but you can still visit art exhibits, attend art classes, and even converse with artists about their work.

Here’s a sampling of what’s happening online this fall:

MassArt Art Museum

If you’re hesitant to attend a traditional drawing class, you’re in luck this fall that you don’t have to. The MassArt Art Museum, otherwise known as MAAM, is hosting “Live: Drawing Together,” a series of online art classes that will appeal to your inner Picasso. They’ll include sessions on drawing, collage, and even a workshop on making your own paint.

“Wiggly” (2020) by Loretta Park, who is teaching a collage workshop. (Courtesy Loretta Park)

Or, you can just draw.

Collage Workshop
Oct. 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

There are more things to do with a Thursday evening than watch Netflix. MassArt professors Amber Tourlentes and Loretta Park are offering one alternative—a one-hour collage workshop focused on simple, improvisational collaging techniques, set to music. All you need is scissors, magazines, photographs, and a modicum of artistic vision. All ages are welcome, and no art experience is necessary.

Noodle and Doodle
Oct. 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m.

If you like the idea of making art to music, then you’re in Iuck. MAAM is offering “Noodle & Doodle,” an opportunity to sketch to free live experimental acoustic guitar. The session will feature music by Jim Healey and Blackwolfgoat, the solo experimental vehicle of guitarist Darryl Shepard. Doodlers of all ages are invited to use whatever materials they have on hand to do whatever they like, whether its sketch the musicians, or sketch what their music inspires.

Natural Pigment Making Workshop
Nov. 19, 6:30- 7:30 p.m.

If you’ve ever wondered how pigments are made, you’ll want to join this workshop. Digital artist and MassArt Professor Jane Marsching will explore the world of pigments in this one-hour talk with special attention to naturally sourced, sustainable pigments. Marsching encourages participants to forage for plants, rocks, earth and food which will be crushed into pigments and mixed with binders to create paints, inks, and dyes. She’ll also offer a tour of the new MassArt Natural Pigment Library featuring colors from around the world.

Digital artist and MassArt Professor Jane Marsching will teach a workshop making pigments from natural materials like plants and earth. (Courtesy Jane Marsching)

MIT List Center for the Visual Arts

Nayland Blake, "Untitled (Pinocchio)," (1994) (Courtesy Gretchen and John Berggruen)
Nayland Blake, “Untitled (Pinocchio),” (1994) (Courtesy Gretchen and John Berggruen)

No Wrong Holes: Thirty Years of Nayland Blake

Oct. 16-Feb. 14, 2021

Nayland Blake’s “No Wrong Holes” was originally supposed to open last spring. That opening never happened, but don’t fret, you can still catch the exhibit online at the List website in October. Blake’s art has been inspired by feminist and queer liberation movements and subcultures from punk to kink. In “No Wrong Holes,” Blake, who is queer and biracial (African American and white), considers the complexities of racial and gender identity, play and eroticism and the subjective experiences of desire, loss and power, all through the vehicle of assemblage. Using materials ranging from leather to medical equipment to food, Blake has spent a long-career subverting conventionality through art. The List will be presenting an online conversation between Blake and curator Jamillah James on Oct. 26.

Shifter Series
Oct. 8, Oct.22, Nov 12, Dec. 3
5:30 to 6:30 p.m.

Amid social upheaval, a bitter political divide and a pandemic, we are adapting to a new relationship with time. We grapple with our expectations, hopes, and fears. And we wait. The List (in collaboration with the Contemporary Arts Center of Cincinnati) addresses all the time we’ve got on our hands, with a series of online Zoom talks focused on experiences of waiting. Convened by Sreshta Rit Premnath (who will have an exhibition at the List in early 2021) and Avi Alpert of Shifter, and led by artists, architects, historians and theorists, the talks consider waiting for racial justice, waiting in prison, waiting when chronically ill, waiting in immigration detention, and even the concept of waiting in musical composition.

Kevin Jerome Everson discusses his cinematic work exploring the temporality of incarceration and Nicole Fleetwood speaks of her scholarly and curatorial work on the US prison system, and the artwork that emerges from it;  Sandrine Canac offers a fictional conversation taking place in postcolonial theorist Dipesh Chakrabarty’s “waiting room” of history while Felipe Steinberg  shares research into U.S. labor laws and the state of always being “on-call” as unpaid waiting; Mustafa Faruki discusses his work “Celebatorium,” while Kameelah Janan Rasheed discusses people who seek immortality, and those who wait forever; Diego Gerard uses magical realism to discuss forced disappearances in Mexico in the midst of drug wars while Margarita Sanchez Urdaneta uses horrorism to consider the terror of waiting for a legal sentence. If you’re interested in attending, be sure to RSVP for a Zoom link.


Boston Center for the Arts

Mills Gallery, Lunchtime Listening Sessions

Artist Cliff Notez. (Courtesy Brunei)
Artist Cliff Notez. (Courtesy Brunei)

Cliff Notez, Oct. 7, noon
DJ Whysham, Oct 21, noon

One of the best ways to take a break from it all is to listen to music. The Boston Center for the Arts is offering a mid-day get-a-way with its “Lunchtime Listening Sessions.” The series, which began a few months ago, continues on this fall with Cliff Notez, an award-winning multi-digital media artist, musician, organizer and filmmaker, who will be  performing Oct.7, and activist Shamara  “DJ WhySham,” a 2019 Boston Music Award nominee performing Oct.21. Again, be sure to RSVP.


Open Studios

Artist CJ Lori will show her work at Brookline Open Studios. (Courtesy)
Artist CJ Lori will show her work at Brookline Open Studios. (Courtesy)

Brookline Open Studios & Marketplace
Beginning Oct. 1

Like artists in other towns around Boston, Brookline artists every year open their studios to eager patrons. This year, they haven’t let the pandemic stop them. Beginning Oct. 1st, for an entire year, the association will showcase the work of more than 70 Brookline artists online. Similar to its in-person open studios event, artists will offer talks, demonstrations and studio tours. Plus, you can buy art.

Fort Point Virtual Open Studios
Oct. 16-18

October is also the month that Fort Point artists have traditionally thrown open their doors to the public. In the space of one weekend, artists normally welcome hundreds of visitors who traipse through the neighborhood to glimpse whatever artists have got percolating in their studios. This year, Fort Point artists are connecting with patrons virtually over a weekend that will also include studio tours, workshops and demonstrations, live artist talks, and discussions and performances in music, dance and theater. (Full disclosure, I’ll be there discussing my memoir, Revamp).

Waltham Open Studios
Nov. 7-8

In Waltham, one of Greater Boston’s oldest art communities, the Waltham Mills Artists’ Association, is also joining in on the virtual OS action. The event, now in its 44th year, will feature close to 100 artists, working in painting, sculpture, digital art, ceramics, film, photography, printmaking, jewelry and installation.

Kingston Gallery
Kingston Conversations: Wednesdays in the Studio

Like many galleries in the South End, the Kingston cooperative gallery is open for in-person visits, but with a caveat: no more than six people are allowed into the gallery at one time and visitors must wear masks. Physically going to the gallery is one way to see their exhibits (including Cree Bruins’ “Drawn to Film”, Yuri Shimojo’s “Unbroken Line,” and Jennifer Moses’ “Protest” through Sept. 27).

But art patrons preferring to keep their visits virtual have another alternative—the gallery has an Artsy page where you can catch exhibits online. Until Sept 27, visitors can see the online version of “Drawn to Film,”and  “Dreams Within”  until Sept. 30. From Sept 30 to Oct 31, Kingtston will present Pangaea and Panthalass.”

The virtual exhibits are great, but the icing on the cake is the gallery’s Zoom-based studio visits, dubbed “Kingston Conversations,” featuring talks by artists currently showing. Upcoming conversations will feature Margaret Hart and Chantal Zakari, who will speak Nov. 11 and 18. Register for the talk on the website.

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