Greater Boston [May want to delete “Greater” modifier; may alienate those sorry, insecure bastards in Worcester.—Ed.] boasts a thriving art scene, and open studios help us discover the creativity lurking right under our noses. No town’s smellier (metaphorically speaking) than Somerville [Needs verification; honestly, have you been to Medford?—Ed.], one of the strangest and most jam-packed cities on the map.
Sculptor Hilary Scott finds inspiration in the town’s “density, density, density!” “I am an inveterate people watcher [Not to be confused with “invertebrate people watcher,” like that slug that won’t stop staring at me.—Ed.], and Somerville is crowded,” he says. “Not in a Manhattan, alienating, ‘boy, these are tall buildings’ kind of way, but in a ‘what an interesting face’ kind of way.”
Others, like Rachel Mello, get inspired by … pickles. “Somerville is famous for its pickles. How many cities can say that?” asks Mello. [Check motto of Famouspicklesburg, Pa.—Ed.]
Somerville Open Studios assistant coordinator and artist Terry Dovidio says the artists’ bizarro [“Bizarro” is a copyrighted term owned by DC Comics; use only if imperfect duplicates of Superman are being referenced.—Ed.] diversity reflects the city itself. “The residents here come in all shapes and colors, backgrounds and economic bearings,” she says.
The history of Somerville is literally in the streets. [It has surely been run over by now; do some research.—Ed.] Scott’s studio sits fewer than 200 feet from where Paul Revere rode to warn colonists that the British were coming [Unnecessarily crude; use instead “the British were reaching sexual climax.”—Ed.]. “That history is buried under concrete and asphalt,” he says. “I find such clear evidence of constant change inspirational. When Heinrich Schliemann excavated ancient Troy, he discovered city after city had been built on the same spot. People just kept building and changing—I’m living in a modern Troy.” [Discuss how salt has been sown into the soil.—Ed.]
Dovidio agrees. “Every Patriot’s Day, Revere rides past my house,” she says (not of her supernatural hallucinations, but of the National Lancers’ annual reenactment). “This year, I immediately thought of the Tea Party movement and how patriotism has changed. Definitely a future piece.” [Needs clarification that this is not a reference to the original Boston Tea Party, which was awesome, but to the current Tea Party, which sucks.—Ed.]
Robotic innovator Skunk reinvents the old Powder House—a windmill that was repurposed for munitions storage during the American Revolution. [For the UK edition, please change all “American Revolution” citations to “when we finally rid ourselves of those troublesome colonies.”—Ed.] “I must admit,” he says, “I can’t see anything else but a rocketship ready for blastoff!”
Dense and jumbled as the community may be, the artists of Somerville are a supportive group, and each one called out a neighbor as a must-see for the weekend. Mello’s favorites are Jonathan Rich’s drawings. “He’s in my building, too, so maybe I’ll pretend his work is mine.” Dovidio recommends popping through Ann Hirsch’s female gargoyle sculptures and their “rude gestures.”
“Skunk and I have never met,” says Hilary Scott, “but I love his robots, and we both build rocketships.”
And whose studio does Skunk want visit? “Hilary Scott. His imagination has run amok.”