‘Art in the Square’ to Connect Community with Local Artists

by Duke Saunders

Autumn is bringing a little something more than just apple picking and Pumpkin Spice Lattes to Chestnut Hill this year.

This coming Saturday, Chestnut Hill Square will see its first annual “Art in the Square” homemade arts market from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The large parking lot, usually packed with the cars of customers shopping at Wegmans or eating at one of the nearby restaurants, will instead feature a diverse collection of about 20 artists and craftsmen from all over New England.

After preparing for this weekend since late August and early September of this year, the event’s coordinators wanted to add a special flare to this year’s “Art in the Square.” Although there has always been an annual “Art in the Square” during the fall in Chestnut Hill, event coordinators decided to break convention by altering its format, focusing on displaying homemade, marketable art as a means of engaging with the surrounding community as a whole.

With the application process for the exhibition beginning in early September of this year, event coordinators selected those individuals who they deemed would provide Chestnut Hill Square with a vibrant flare emanating from their creative exhibits.

Rather than simply bringing artists who currently flood the conventional art market with paintings and photographs, the 20 artists who will be attending range from painters and sculptors to photographers and jewelers, with even handmade soap artists present.

In the past, similarly organized art markets in Chestnut Hill Square have served a more expository purpose. “Art in the Square,” however, was developed to provide the surrounding art connoisseur community and the general public with an attainable, market-like atmosphere. With this goal of making the displayed works more accessible, event coordinators hope it will foster more engagement with community members of all types—not just art lovers.

“With plenty of online support being shown through the festival’s Facebook event page, I’m expecting there to be a successful turnout, with the local shoppers and art vendors excited that the focus of making the exhibited artwork ‘accessible,’” said Jennifer Rotigliano, one of the event’s coordinators. “Last year’s ‘Art in the Square’ was more for exhibitional, and we’ve worked so this year’s market focuses on more attainable, handcrafted works, or in other words, ‘art for the people.’”

Saturday’s festival will also include artists who have primarily showcased their work on Etsy.com.

Etsy is a website with a similar concept to that of Amazon or Ebay in that artists can create a profile and list, display, and sell their pieces through a convenient management system. In adding this element to the festival, event coordinators hope to both put a face to talented artists who live and work in the Boston area and encourage their Etsy followers to personally engage with one another in Chestnut Hill Square.

Some of the works that will be both displayed and for sale include “Solid Roots,” which are the handmade, miniature concrete planters designed for the quaint, decorative succulents that are popular in family homes and dorm rooms alike for their low-maintenance nature. Work from “Sarah Kelly Ceramics” also encompasses functional pottery, and focuses on emphasizing the uniqueness of everyday items.

While there were no logistical challenges in organizing “Art in the Square,” the original date of the event was planned for Oct. 22, but due to poor weather the event was rescheduled for this weekend. Luckily, this change in date will not result in any changes in the artist lineup.  

In addition to the presence of the local artists, shopkeepers and stores in and around Chestnut Hill Square also plan on setting up booths at the market with special giveaways and showcases of their products.

“We want to keep ‘Art in the Square’ fresh and engage community members who normally shop at Chestnut Hill Square to come out and enjoy the creative displays and products,” Rotigliano said. “By bringing solely local artists who can put a unique touch on art markets, we’re really trying to advertise that Chestnut Hill Square isn’t just a shopping center but a community center.”

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