By MVA artisan, Ritva Ojanen.
Visiting Western Avenue Studios in Lowell I’m pricked by a little stab of envy. There are so many wonderful artists doing interesting work there. It’s such a vibrant community with their monthly open studios, gallery, and displays of artwork along the hallways.
They even have a coffee shop in the building for lunch breaks with other artists. Here I am working all by myself in my rough and ready basement studio, and my only companions are audio books from the library.
Before I feel too sorry for myself, I have to remember that I have experienced the community of artists in dedicated studio buildings. When I was living in an urban setting, having a separate studio from my apartment seemed like the perfect option for the messy ceramic work I was doing at that time. And the camaraderie of a coop studio and the experience of other potters was a valuable education in my early career.
When we bought our house, here in the outer suburbs, and while expecting a child, it made sense to establish my studio in the basement of our home. My studio and my work was always just a flight of stairs down from all the daily chores and childcare.
Twenty five years later, here I still am. Multitasking is the daily life: the washer and dryer are humming away as I’m bent to the task of bead weaving, and when the dryer buzzer goes off, it gives me the perfect break to get up and stretch. My afternoon yogurt break is timed to the Ellen show, and computer work gets accomplished in a second floor office. I should wear a pedometer to see how many steps I take daily going up and down between the floors. And now in the wintertime, I am happy not to have to shovel out the car and face the nasty elements every day commuting to a studio.
These days the computer provides us with easy access to information and connection to friends and artists. But nothing beats face to face chatting, so I’m grateful to my artisans’ group with monthly meetings and the occasional coffee get-togethers.