The Public Art Salon: A Community Table on Artists’ Row

Circle collage illustrating a variety of mosaic possibilities – plants, bark, stones, ceramic, shells, colors. Each participant can craft their own circle, and integrate it into the larger collective artwork.

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!

Artist Row before the new color transformation

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.

Inter-generational, drop-in friendly workshops for all skill levels where participants contribute artwork for a large community piece.

What is the Artist in Residence Program on Artists’ Row?

The Public Art Commission and the Mayor’s Office has also launched a new Artist in Residence program on the 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.

The Public Art Salon creates a safe environment for self-and-collective expression while making friends and talking about community.

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!

Preparatory work for the community table using pallets and sap buckets.

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.

Nature collages from Salem Woods.

Materials from Artists’ Row Creative Entrepreneurs: ZBY Gallery, Boston Woodturning, Grace&Diggs, Hervor Soaps, Ceramics by Sibel, Salem Food Tours, and The Lobster Shanty

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,
    • Art-making with Lexiee Batakis
    • Face Art with Alison Troy @AlisonTroy
    • Reading Nook design with David Rabkin

We have had a flurry of activity during our first two Salons! Please join us at our next four! This week we will have a demonstration hive from Beverly Bees who is also at the Salem Farmers’ Market.

Week One – Meet & Mosaic!

Participants make mosaics from natural and artistic materials at the first Salon.

Salon co-hosts (left to right) Michael saws table legs, Lexiee cuts out space for the bee buckets, Alison creates Face Art


Week Two – Native Perennials with Thrive Design!

Participants help ecological designer Annie Scott plant perennial native plants for pollinators.

Lots of painting – driftwood for a vertical element, David (Wentworth Architecture Student) creates seating for the Reading Nook, and participants mix paint.

The Community Table for People and Pollinators is coming along!

Alison Troy Face Art inspired by our Garden Day!

In the News!

Salem Main Streets 

Salem Gazette  

Project at Palmer Street Lot in The Point!

I Imagine info posterWhat do you imagine for the Palmer Street Lot? Starting next Friday, come have your say!