Join us for The Public Art Salon on Thursday 27 and support Bee Positive Legislation! We’ll have postcards available to color, personalize, and mail in support of MA State bills that limit neonicotinoids!
We will be joined by Beverly Bees for a Hive Demonstration at (around) 4:30 to learn about bees, and bee-positive legislation and actions!
We will also be:
- Building the Community Table
- Making Mosaics
- Face Art
- Designing the Reading Nook
- Making Friends!
Learn more about the effects of neonicotinoids and the proposed bills below:
If you can’t join us this Thursday – contact your rep to support House Bill H.2113 / Senate Bill SD.2236 and find out more: https://malegislature.gov/Bills/190/H2113
What is Artists’ Row?
Artists’ Row is a pedestrian way in the heart of Salem defined by several small shed buildings where artists practice their craft and sell their handiwork. The Row has been a creative space for artists and ‘creative entrepreneurs’ to incubate their work and establish an audience. Creative and spontaneous, the Row is an underrated place in Salem. Come see the artists working daily on their craft – and support this local work!
The summer of 2017 brings lots of changes to the Row. In the spring, students from Lesley University College of Art and Design, led by local graphic designer Rick Rawlins, designed a comprehensive aesthetic vision for the Row: inspired by the nautical history, and complementing the color of the green metal roofs, the buildings would serve as a background to frame the artists’ work and don a soothing gray. The color also helps frame the spaces between the buildings – the nooks – that could become intimate spaces for reading, crafting, or simply sitting. Finally, “Artists’ Row” would then be stenciled onto the buildings in bright colors to orient visitors. We’re in the middle of this transformation: the large picture windows showcasing the work, for instance at Boston Woodturning and ZBY Gallery – help bring the inside artistry outside.
What is the Artist in Residence Program on Artists’ Row?
The Artist in Residence Pilot Program seeks to bring the Salem community into the creative process through participatory project-based activities for all ages at Artists’ Row. Of particular interest are placemaking programs that help residents and visitors re-imagine public spaces as places to play, engage, and create. Placemaking inspires people to collectively reimagine and reinvent public spaces as the heart of every community, strengthening the connection between people and the places they share.
I am grateful to be part of the pilot program and hopefully help establish an ongoing Artist Residency on the Row.
What is the Public Art Salon?
The Public Art Salon program I developed as Artist in Residence in Four Corners, Dorchester in 2015-16 is a good fit for Artists’ Row. The Public Art Salon is a place-and-project-based weekly workshop in which the local community helps to create a community driven projects. This is a wonderful excuse to make friends, incubate local talent, and make art together. I am excited to develop the Public Art Salon on Aritsts’ Row!
What is the Community Table for People and Pollinators?
The Row is a linear plaza that is too often used for walking through, rather than for staying. Establishing Artists’ Row as a destination was the main desire that arose during several meetings with the Artist Row tenants this past spring. These meetings began my research into what would be the ideal project to work on as the Row’s first Artist in Residence.
Together, we developed the idea of a Community Table:
- To engage people to stay, we will build a Community Table
- To engage participants in the work and world of the creative artists on the Row, we are using materials from their shops to help create the table-top surfaces.
- To connect to nature, like the Artists’ Row artists, we will also use natural materials to decorate the table tops
- To expand the notion of community, we will invite pollinators to the table with native plants for pollinators.
- To reach as many people as possible, we’ll host the Salon during the Salem Farmers’ Market!
- To help incubate young talent, we’re getting help from emerging artists and professionals:
- Artist in Residence, Claudia Paraschiv
- Ecological landscape design with local
Annie Scott, thrivedesign.studio
- Art-making with Lexiee Batakis
- Face Art with Alison Troy @AlisonTroy
- Reading Nook design with David Rabkin
- Artist in Residence, Claudia Paraschiv
Week One – Meet & Mosaic!
Week Two – Native Perennials with Thrive Design!
In the News!
The five 289 Derby Community Design Events happened every Wednesday evening from May 24 – June 21. During the events, we collaboratively shaped the future of a new waterfront park – 289 Derby.The five 289 Derby Community Design Events happened every Wednesday evening from May 24 – June 21. During the events, we collaboratively shaped the future of a new waterfront park – 289 Derby.
A lot of the creative input from the community was inspiring and useful as we all collaboratively created the design!
For a comprehensive documentation of the events, click here: 289Derby_Documented_no contacts_2017.08.19
The final event featured active engagement of the entire space. Since the “Curvilenear” plan was the overwhelming favorite, we drew the primary shape on the compacted asphalt so that people could see the proposed line between green and paved surfaces. We lined up chairs, tables, and design sections throughout the space, and people spread out across the lot in small groups.
In the center of the space, we used the “Engagement Doors” to create a sculptural piece to be painted by participants. With the help of Creative Salem’s Kati Nalbandian and Joey Phoenix, participants painted the seasons on the doors inspired by the desire for a year-round space. The final event felt like a block party, and people expressed satisfaction with the design proposal.
Unlike the other events, the final was less structured. People walked the site, met with each other, ate food from Brothers Taverna, listened to local band, Model Citizens, and got close to the river when Coast to Coast paddleboarders came up for a visit.
For our final engagement activity, we engaged people to sign up for becoming a “Friend of 289 Derby” for the ongoing engagement and stewardship of the space as it goes through design and after construction is completed. We provided refrigerator magnets people could take to remember the project by; 48 people signed up to help with stewardship of the space, design, and programming across five categories:
Green Space: 16 volunteers
Events: 10 volunteers
Kid’s Activities: 7 volunteers
Art-making: 4 volunteers
General help: 10 volunteers
Someone suggested that we poll people for potential names for the space:
South River Park
Derby St Greenway
Derby River Lot
Lawn on Derby
At the final event, one participant said they have enjoyed watching 289 Derby transform from an uneven parking lot into a place for community gathering. They noted the timeline: first the ground was evened, then murals livened up the brick wall, then we painted the colorful stumps for seating, then strung pinwheels on the water’s edge, and now – at the final event – the space is filled with groups of people here and there, chatting, sitting, looking over the favorite plan design, in the shade of a tree, watching kids paint, looking out at the water.
The Community Engagement facilitated by Salem Public Space Project and Creative Salem resulted in community buy-in and enthusiasm for the collaborative design and stewardship of a the new waterfront park. It’s meaningful that the transformation of 289 Derby was a local effort that showcased the varied talent in our small city, and the strong passion for community.
With this local support, we’ve succeeded in our three objectives:
1. We collaboratively designed a schematic plan direction with strong public support (80% per our Placemaking Placemats)
2. We created the types of events that could actually happen on site – from an outdoor movie, to dancing, to paddle-boarding in the South River – and helped collectively imagine the possibilities.
3. The above efforts inspired interest in local stewardship of some key elements of the park and programming for 289 Derby.
CBA Landscape Architects further developed the “curvy” scheme for our final event.
The schematic plan shows a balance between community desires: green space helps define paved surfaces, both flexible for varied activities. The design buffers the noise from Derby Street, and seeks to open to the water.
The seating is both flexible, and integrated with the green space edge, and may hold some playful surprises. The green space is both peaceful with educational elements including demonstration garden with native plants for pollinators. These physical elements will help facilitate the desire for a safe, peaceful space connected to nature, and balanced with bustling community gatherings for performances and group exercise in the summer, and ice skating in the winter.
With a budget of 750K from a state grant, the priority will be to create a beautiful, resilient container that will facilitate these varied desires – such as an amphitheater-like space, lawn with shade and trees, a multi-use stage, good lighting, a variety of areas for meetings, play, and chance encounters. A layer of creative elements will need to come in a later phase and/or through community partnerships.
Stumps by Michael Jaros
A series of stumps were brought to 289 Derby by city workers to be used as flexible seating for the upcoming Community Design Events, and we wanted to paint them. But who would paint them? On one of our first days at the site, a group of teens from the On Point Plummer Youth Promise came to help. Paint was everywhere, as the stumps took on a life of their own and a series of strange, otherworldly colors emerged. Some stumps were spackled with multiple colors of paint, some were hand-printed, and some were monochromatic. We quickly realized that we had not logistically thought through a lot of things – we did not have water, for instance, to wash off the brushes and rollers and only a limited amount of supplies. Trips to the gas station and ace hardware solved these problems, somewhat.
When the kids left we still had more stumps to paint. A day or so later, two friends brought their two children to help paint the stumps and the process began again: select a nice color from our many paint-cans, make sure there was actually paint in it, find a brush that was still usable, fill up the water bucket, and so on. The kids painted with a frenzy and excitement that oscillated with mild disinterest.
We’d had some encounters with homeless folks who occupied the side of the gas station next to the 289 lot. A man named John had come forward first and talked to us about what we were doing. He then returned with his friend and wrote on one of the doors we had set up for community interactions, which read “WRITE YOUR QUESTION HERE.” The question he wrote was “Why are the homeless treated so poorly?” The second question was: “Why does the shelter not help anyone?” It was a stark reminder of their presence and of their humanity, something we often willfully ignore or place just at the uncomfortable margins of our sight. They were curious about what we were working on, but also wanted to be involved in what was happening. Understandably, they approached our actions with a deep skepticism.
We’d rolled a series of logs near the water to be used for a drum circle during the first event. I’d noticed a group of homeless had begun sitting there and, as I was once more painting nearby, John came and talked to me. I learned a little more about him. He had three sons. He had worked in a variety of fields from construction to IT. He had not seen his sons in years. They did not know where he was. I didn’t ask what made him live on the streets and he didn’t tell me. He asked if it was ok if his friends sat on the stumps in the circle. I said it was fine. I told him I would be moving over to the circle to paint those stumps soon.
I confess I was somewhat afraid to do so. The stigma around homelessness has also affected me, but this conversation with Barry had made me feel less trepidation. I began painting a stump in the circle and very quickly they began chatting with me; some of them asked if they could help to paint. A woman was clearly drunk, but wanted to help. She kept calling me David, instead of Michael, and told me she thought she was stuck on that name because she’d had a son who had died who had had that name. Another woman joined and painted an entire stump and ended it by placing a heart on the top of it. I didn’t catch her name, but she had “been lucky” and gotten her family and her house back after a spate with addiction. She had merely come out there, it seems, to meet with her friends from her harder times. Another man told jokes and riddles, and kept asking me what I thought of them, why I wanted to hang out there with them. A man named Green, dressed in a green hat, green shirt, and green socks jacket painted an entire stump green.
Eventually I had to be on my way and took the paint back to its place and cleaned up. It was a brief, accidental moment, but I think it was important. Empathy is in short supply these days and it certainly tempered any fear or frustration that I may have had at later events as screams might have rung out, chairs might have been kicked over, or fights broken out on the edge of 289. They are there, they are people with hopes and dreams, and they must be a part of the process.
(note: names have been changed)
For our fourth Community Design Event, Eat & Imagine at 289 Derby, our goal was simple: involve everyone in choosing between two design schemes with Placemaking Placemats before enjoying some spontaneous eats on site.
The varied activities people have envisioned for the space, from native permaculture gardens to winter ice-skating, would be possible in either configuration designed by CBA Landscape Architects. The simple distinction between the two plans is that one scheme is straight, and the other curvy. We thought we’d have some debate and close calls about which way to go, so we created “Consensus” placemats at each table. They were unnecessary! At a ratio of 8 to 10, the “curvy” plan was the clear favorite!
There were many reasons for this. The primary factor was that it would be a unique form in Salem and people were attracted to the soft edges. The undulating paved space shows two discrete areas for flexible activities – one in the center of the space surrounded by greenery, and the other closer to the water with amphitheater-like integrated seating and a stage area that can double as a labyrinth for walking meditation during the summer, and even and ice-skating rink in the winter.
The green space is similarly well suited to facilitate the multiple types of green space desired by participants: botanical gardens with plants for pollinators and native species in some areas, and lawn space with shade and seating in other zones.
Together, these discrete elements facilitate layered uses to incorporate a surprising amount of the community suggestions we’ve gathered over the past five weeks of engagement.
Through the “Placemaking Placemats” we all participated in a design charrette. We collected 88 in total! Check out some of the votes on favorite Amenities and Activities – as well corresponding locations!
Design Trivia! The name for a gathering of people under pressure to design together, usually in an academic setting, is called a “Design Charette.” Charette is the French word for cart. Traditionally, fervent design students were said to still be finishing their drawings on the cart (charrette) as it was rolled down the hall to be reviewed.
Now that we have a direction for both form and program, we still have a lot of work to do! Who will be those critical community partners to steward this space in a way that keeps it safe, clean, and inclusive to all?
Creative Salem has compiled a wonderful narrative of the past 4 weeks – take a look and come see the schematic design unveiling with us June 21 at 6pm!