Boston’s South End market, SoWa, opened its doors to shoppers every Sunday in April, allowing artists to showcase their work to the public.
Artists’ studios occupy the second, third and fourth floors of the large warehouse. Not all artists were present, but those who were able to drive foot traffic and make sales on the day of the sale.
The SoWa Artists Guild has grown over the years from 20 artists to over 80. Some artists, like Sandy Belock-Phippen, have been in the building and have been with the guild for over 16 years.
Belock-Phippen shares her studio space with Mae Chevrette, with each artist’s work taking up residence on opposite studio walls. Styles and colors collide, Chevrette leaning towards blues and grays, while Belock-Phippen’s bold colors play throughout the room. However, thematically the pieces work in tandem to create an attractive environment.
The two artists noted how the guild helped each artist in the building gain exposure.
“The guild nurtures artists’ interests and works together to keep visitors alive while educating people about art and studios,” Belock-Phippen said.
The guild uses SoWa’s “First Fridays” and Summer Market to showcase its artists, but they also provide opportunities outside of SoWa. Guild members have been invited to showcase their work at Endicott College in the past and use membership dues to create a guide to the South End which features their work.
“Having your door open is a great way to attract people and even if they don’t buy a piece right away, more eyes and feet in the building generates more sales,” Chevrette said. .
Kat Masella, a Gloucester-based artist who owns a second studio in SoWa, is a new member of the guild. Masella’s paintings are abstract versions of the body as she says she is more interested in the abstract side of things.
“I love people and characters that speak to me, just the emotions we all feel, love and joy or contemplation and meditation,” Masella said.
Masella works with oil paint and uses beeswax, marble dust and pumice stone to give her paintings more texture and depth.
Another artist, Donna Caselden, is a contemporary artist who works with mixed media. Although nature and water figure prominently in her paintings, she often begins her creative process without an end goal in mind.
“I’m very intuitive, I don’t always know how a painting will end. I start and it evolves into something I love,” Caselden said.
Artist Sarah Schwartz has a unique medium: wallpaper. Schwartz offers hand-painted wallpaper for its customers. She first trained as a textile designer and started working in bespoke fabrics and wallpapers for interior designers with her partner, Ruby Geisler.
“We wanted to launch our own line and we were doing digital printing, but we wanted a more organic process that we could control from start to finish,” Schwartz said.
The duo experimented with different chemistries and found the most feasible and sustainable option for their clients. Each item is made to order to reduce waste and Schwartz uses every scrap of paper creating journals, business cards and more.
She also notes that wallpaper isn’t what it used to be and that the process of using wallpaper has evolved over the years.
“It’s not the big production it used to be,” Schwartz said. “It just gets this nice textured, layered backdrop, it’s not the star of the show but it gives a lot of visual interest to your space.”
The studios will remain open for the duration of the summer market. They will also organize a fundraiser from May 6 to 8 to benefit Ukraine.
Customers can donate $122 on the WCK website, show the receipt in the lobby to choose an artwork, and the foundations will triple every donation made, sending $488 for each purchase.
The summer markets will be every Sunday from May 1 to October from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Follow Ashley on Twitter @ashleyfairchi14.