“Notes from Western Avenue” by Maxine Farkas

Maxine Farkas shares the following update from Western Avenue Studios:

Ever encounter one of those ideas that seems like a throw away but blossoms into something far, far more than you imagined? Back in February Susan Halter from COOL/CASE forwarded information about ArtWeek Boston, they were interested in expanding the ArtWeek concept out beyond their original Boston/Cambridge/Somerville nexus and were looking for events outside of Boston to partner with.

For those who don’t know about ArtWeek . . . it is the same concept as Restaurant Week only arts oriented. Spring ArtWeek (well Spring 10 Art 10 days doesn’t have the same ring to it) is April 25 to May 4 this year. Events had to be submitted to the organizers and were accepted if they were unique and celebrated the quality and diversity of the creative community represented by the applicant.

For Western Ave it was a no brainer, May First Saturday falls in ArtWeek so we applied. And The Spring Art Thing run by a group of artists at WAS entered as well and we both got in! Because open studios showcasing 2 and 3D artists are such a regular part of the art scene we had to come up with something different . . . so we decided to see what we could do about showcasing the performing artists at Western Ave. in the Onyx Room. Because time was short we decided to concentrate on the musicians, both the musicians who live at the Lofts and those that work in multiple disciplines and work at the Studios. Because the Loading Dock Gallery is participating in Lowell Photography Weekend there is no opening reception on May 3rd and we can start the performance component after 5 and not conflict with the gallery. This is a free event.

This is the first time that we have offered the performing artists at Western Avenue as a part of First Saturday Open Studios so we didn’t really know what would happen when we put out the call. The response was amazing, to the point where we are trying to figure out how we can fit everyone in to the three hours we have allotted!

In no particular order we are presenting from 5pm until 8pm in the Onyx Room (a full schedule will be posted outside the Onyx Room on May 3rd) . . .

Seiki, known to those who frequent open mic at the Back Page and music night at LaBoniche will be playing. Not sure what he will be playing, but pretty certain that there will be some amazing guitar.

Nick Tolle, (nicholastolle.com) is a percussionist who plays both classical and modern music, for May 3rd he said he will be offering “Koan: Having Never Written a Note for Percussion” (1971) by James Tenney (1934-2006) which is a deeply intense and meditative 17-minute study in the surprising harmonic richness of a slowly modulated sustained gong, also supported in this performance by four hand cranked air raid sirens.

Todd Bowser is taking a break from studying for exams to do a set, I didn’t get a chance to hear him play at Liz Alexander’s event at Boston Sculptors gallery so am quite excited to hear him (minorfires.bandcamp.com/releases)



Holly Brewer and Mat McNiss are the writers/composers for HUMANWINE and are bringing the group to Western Ave. for their first live performance in 3 years. David Brow from the Lowell Sun recorded them rehearsing the other day.


Normally you can only find out what Dane Despres is doing musically by following him on Twitter or Tumblr (danedlion.tumblr.com).

When Don Ouellette isn’t in his 5th floor studio painting he is often found making music all around Lowell . . .he said he is bringing his guitar and will see where the music takes him.

Loft Space artists Marianna Wood and J Haley have been putting together something, but they won’t tell anyone what they have planned . . . Marianna does musical theater and J plays guitar, that is all we know!

Bill Ironfield who is part of Wings and Roots Studio is bringing the Ironfield Project, an acoustic bass, guitar, banjo trio.

During the afternoon Mystic Wind will be doing a short workshop/demonstration in the Onyx Room were you can . . . Experience the gong chair: a natural method of energy balance using harmonics for stress reduction and relaxation. Mystic Wind will give a short presentation and then allow attendees to experience the gong chair.

For those who come to Western Ave. for the day, there will be a reception/potluck in the Onyx room around 5 or so . . . (both LaBoniche and Cobblestones will be contributing to the potluck so it might be a good idea to come when the doors open!)

We are rather excited about being part of ArtWeek Boston, about getting the word out about Lowell and Western Ave., about celebrating the diversity of the arts at Western Ave., and hope that you will join us!