Lowell Art Archives, 1981

The following extracts are from four issues of the “Artifacts” newsletter of the Art Alive! artists cooperative that operated in Lowell in the early 1980s (formed some time before June 1980). I recently found these documents in my files, an incomplete set of Volume 1 of “Artifacts.” The four issues cover January through May, 1981. My recollection is that there were between 30 and 60 members of the coop, but I could be wrong. I don’t have a membership list. The group was based in a one-story commercial building that stood on part of the property where the Enterprise Bank parking lot is now found on Merrimack Street. The National Park Service acquired the building(s) with the intent to demolish them because they were architecturally inconsistent with the beautiful 19th-century buildings on either side of them. While the building(s) were up, the NPS made them available for community use. The Human Services Corporation of Lowell, founded by Patrick J. Mogan and others, had an office there while Art Alive! maintained an exhibition space in the front and held meetings and other activities there. This will be the first of four posts with excerpts from the newsletters.—PM

Artifacts, Volume 1, No. 2 (selected news)

Feb. 7, 1981: Photographer Jack McWilliams will give a presentation on photographing 2-dimensional artwork. This would be a great opportunity to start or update your slide portfolio. Remember, the Artist Foundation Artist Grant applications will be coming out soon.

Lowell Festival ’81: May Art & Crafts Festival: We are excited about the Lowell Festival ’81, which signifies the opening of Lowell as a National Park. Art Alive! will be sponsoring a May Art & Crafts Festival, Richard Marion and Janet Lambert-Moore are combining their talents to manage this festival. Plans include 81 10-foot spaces for artists and craftspeople. Spaces will cost $10 for members/$15 for non-members. Original work only. No kits or molds. … In addition to the art display, we hope to have music and poetry readings. Rick Wozniak is coordinating the entertainment; please call if you’d like a spot on stage. (Sorry, no rock.)

First Annual Juried Show: In celebration of Lowell Festival ’81, Art Alive! will also hold its first Annual Juried Show to encourage and support area artists. The show will run from May 22 to May 31. …

Spring Fling: Many of you may remember the fun of last year’s Spring Fling. Area school children arrived in buses for National Park tours as well as other city activities. Art Alive! received a grant from the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission to pay artists for demonstrations and mini-workshops for children. We would like to put together a proposal for this year, too.

Snow Sculpture Contest: Art Alive! is sponsoring a Snow Sculpture Contest on Saturday, Feb. 21, at JFK Plaza and the Shattuck Street Park. ….

Going, Going, Gone: The Channel 2 Auction is coming up in June. Artists and craftspeople are asked to donate a work valued at $50 or more. The work from the Merrimack Valley will be on exhibit at the Lowell Museum [in the Wannalancit Mill on Suffolk St.] during the month of April ….

Member Exhibit: Our January-February Member Exhibit is really impressive! … Artists on display include Brenda Freitas, Kevin Harkins, Betsey Bolton, H. L. Arnold, Ed Robinson, Mally Grimshaw, Janet Moore, Sandra Kavanaugh, and Pat Healey. ….

An Exhibition of Calligraphy by Susan K. Gaylord & Watercolors and Drawings by Barbara Irving: Art Alive! Gallery, 200 Merrimack St., Lowell, MA, 459-2139, Mon-Sat, 10-4, January 14 to February 9.

Art Alive! Exhibits: Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, 204 Middle St., Photographs by Tom Belkakis (Jan. 15-Feb. 15), Paintings by Mally Grimshaw (Feb. 15-March 15); National Park Service Lobby, 171 Merrimack St.:  February Artwork by Jeannine Tardiff.

Drawing Attention: Congratulations to Tom Belkakis for his win at the Rockport, Maine, Photographic Society. The win includes a New York opening, a national tour, and a published catalogue of all the winning photographs. This will surely develop into greater exposure for you!


2 Responses to Lowell Art Archives, 1981

  1. Marie says:

    Great find, Paul. 1980, 1981 were very busy but challenging years for partnerships in the arts/culture scene. Mentioning the Lowell Museum, the Lowell Historic Preservation Commission, the Arts/Crafts fair, Spring Fling! the late Jeannine Tardiff, and so on… takes us down “memory lane” and reminds us that “everything old is new again”….

  2. Anonymous says:

    I was born & raised in Lowell, MA, a member of Art Alive in the late 1970’s and graduated from the Boston Museum of Find Arts School in 1981. It was a exciting time in Lowell when the late Senator Paul Tsongas worked to create the National Historic Park developing The Brush With History Galleries and many art studios. I moved to S Florida and meet a lot of folks living here from Lowell who enjoy sharing their memories.