On Saturday, the JP Arts Council and the launched this year's with a breakfast event held at the Task Force's Cheverus Building, located behind the former Blessed Sacrament Church in Hyde Square. With everything from muffins to merengue, and scones to salsa, the kick-off for this weekend’s annual art celebration was full of flavor and flair.
Local bakeries and supplied the pastries, fruit and coffee for the morning event. The relaxed reception provided an opportunity for neighbors to get acquainted, and to plan the day’s activities. With maps and iPhones in hand, many attendees plotted their routes to visit one of the community’s biggest art events, which this year features more than 200 artists showing at 90 studios, businesses and group sites.
Following the breakfast buffet, the public was treated to a presentation by members from the teen troupe Ritmo en Acción. To the delight of the audience, dancers Victor Pimentel, Francys Perez, and Mikeya McNeil strutted their stuff, demonstrating a variety of Afro-Latin dances including salsa, merengue, bachata and krump. [You can see a video snapshot of the show attached to this post.]
For this weekend's Open Studios, the Cheverus Building has been transformed into a group site. Among the exhibitors showing at the space is Mariana Negron-Quiñones, JPOS head coordinator.
Negron-Quiñones’ work provides a pointed primer on the use of prescribed pharmaceuticals by youth. The artist created a series of elementary exercises that appear like lessons for children to learn the alphabet. In one piece, for example, the letter “Z” is illustrated by the use of the words “Zebra” and “Zoloft.”
“85 percent of the Ritalin that’s prescribed is used in the U.S.,” she said.
Art appears to run in the blood of the Cárdenas family. The Cheverus Building is hosting exhibits of Camilo Cárdenas’ accomplished sculptures, and colorful paintings by brother, Juan Pablo Cárdenas.
Some of the other artists on view at the Task Force's building include political printmaker, Anthony Barrows, who was profiled in a painter Felipe Ortiz, and sculptor Craig McNeil.
The Colombian-born Ortiz works in two divergent styles. The artist creates realistic urban landscapes of Boston, like the undersides of bridges and gritty factory views. In one remarkable series, Ortiz painted vibrant vistas using nothing other than light poles as his subject.
“Light poles are like fingerprints,” he said. “No two are alike.”
Ortiz is also an abstract artist who said that he paints non-figuratively as a way to recreate his home country and to keep Colombia in his memory.
“I haven’t been there in twelve years,” he remarked.
MassArt student Craig McNeil is a ceramic artist and sculptor who is showing a collection of monumental busts this weekend at the temporary gallery. His “Route 3 Bust,” he said was made by collecting garbage along the highway.
“I was in a small car accident,” he said, “and I went back to retrieve a part for the car.” The artist collected everything from a brush and a bullet to a shoe and a license plate, all of which he incorporated in the piece.
Speaking of reusing materials creatively, for the first time this year, Open Studios offered a bike tour called “(Re)Cycling Thru Work,” that on Saturday visited a dozen different participating artists, Following the morning’s breakfast event, a group of bicyclists converged on the stairs of the Blessed Sacrament Church, from where the tour departed. The eco-excursion was led by two teen volunteer tour guides from , brothers Abdul, 16, and Mohamed Hussein, 17.
The “green guides” said that they had already taken a practice run of the course, which was organized by JP Arts Council board member and ceramicist, Jeremy Ogusky.
“I saw some cool art made out of junk,” said Abdul.
Task Force director of programming Brenda Rodriguez-Anduhar stated that the successful kick-off celebration was a way to attract more people to the Hyde Square neighborhood for the two-day Open Studios event, which continues on Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
“Open Studios is down here, too,” she stated.