“Notes from Western Avenue” by Maxine Farkas

Guest contributors are always welcome. Send your post or pictures by email to DickHoweJr@gmail.com and I’ll add them to our site. Maxine Farkas, an artist who lives and works at Western Avenue sent the following. Remember, tomorrow is the first Saturday of the month so it’s Open Studios at Western Ave:

Notes from Western Avenue by Maxine Farkas.

I live in a tiny neighborhood on the edge of the Acre. We are on the ‘wrong side’ of the tracks, the ‘wrong side’ of the canal on a dead end street. We are a new neighborhood, only eight years old, spawned by the marriage of an industrial bankruptcy and a demand for a specific kind of space. We are in a light industrial zone, and some could not fathom why, or how anyone would want to work or live here. As I write this, sitting at my desk by my window, I am also watching the wind whip through the trees that line the canal in back of Clemente Park, the sun is making a feeble attempt to burn away the clouds and the only sound I hear is the gentle snoring of my dog, burrowed deep under blankets at the foot of the bed. Those of us who live here share a great secret, for most of the time our industrial zone is an oasis of quiet, insulated from the sonic undercurrents that permeate urban life.

While many who populate this neighborhood are from Lowell there are also many who are cultural immigrants (to quote the late John Greenwald) drawn by a dream of space and community.

We are painters and musicians, sculptors and noise artists, quiltmakers and jewelers, story tellers and weavers, spinners and rug hookers, photographers and film makers, poets and potters, set builders and seamstresses, glass blowers and bead makers, wood workers and metal men, graphic designers and actors, singers and lip-syncers, teachers and students. We open our studios and lofts on the First Saturday of the month because we are of Lowell and we want to Lowell to know who we are and what we do . . . and we want to spread the word about what is possible here.

We’ve come together at this time, in this place and have created something I think is rather special. Somehow in the course of the last 8 years we have grown from 32 artists studios on the 5th floor of a working factory to what appears to be the largest artist community of our kind on the East Coast, if not in the country. (There are a few places that have more work studios in one place, but no live/work and places that have more live/work spaces but no work studios. It is the combination of the two that is unique.) For the statistically minded . . . we have 245 working studios and 50 live/work lofts . . . 350 + artists . . . in 238,000sf . . . on a 5 acre campus.

There are many stories to tell, much that happens here that should be shared, and most likely will be over the course of the coming year.

Tomorrow is First Saturday and despite the snow I need to start my 45 second commute across the parking lot to prepare to welcome visitors.

2 Responses to “Notes from Western Avenue” by Maxine Farkas

  1. Jennifer Clement says:

    Brilliant thoughts and well put. Western Avenue Studios is a wonderful community of creative talent that I am very proud to be a part of.
    “Art makes the world a more beautiful place”
    Jennifer Clement

  2. Sharon Sawyer says:

    As one of the very first to occupy studio space on the fifth floor of Western Avenue, I am truly amazed at how vast and beautiful this little “lost and forgotten” bit of Lowell has become. I moved away from Lowell several years ago, but I always make it a point to visit when I come back to the area. To see what the artists have done with the old mill buildings shows how it is possible to create our own reality through the magic of art and imagination.