Sunday, Dec. 2 was cold and rainy, but it didn’t keep plenty of art lovers from Melrose and surrounding communities from embarking on the second annual Melrose Open Studio Tour, which saw artists throughout the city showed off their work, and their workplaces.
"The inclement weather did not dampen anyone’s spirits," said organizer Demi Dubois. "I was pleasantly surprised and encouraged by the scores of people who braved the elements, umbrellas in hand, to see the studios. There was an energy and vibrancy that brightened the day. The MOST artists were all so appreciative."
"Fantastic day," confirmed artist Lisa Tiemann. "It was great to meet with such stimulating art lovers, make some money, and have fun talking about art. I live on a hill that folks won't walk up for a yard sale—not to mention if it's raining—and I wasn't expecting much. Over 60 people came in and stayed awhile before moving on."
Painter Adrian Johnston was equally happy with the turnout, especially among young Melrosians. "I had a bunch of folks stop by throughout the afternoon, including kids of different ages who were excited to draw and practice calligraphy, which was fun," he said.
Art lovers of all ages made the rounds for various reasons.
"Artists tend to surround themselves with beauty, so I’m interested to see not only their unique workspace, but how they’ve incorporated art in their backyard, their choice of paint colors for their home (interior, exterior, front door), and their own person—how they made the green MOST t-shirt their own style," said Melrose resident Laurie Butts. "I imagine that the hosts are realistic examples for someone trying to balance their (possibly not art-related) work and family responsibilities along with their love of art, the need for self-promotion and selling of their work."
Melrose resident Stephanie Catalini made a point of taking the tour this year, after missing the inaugural event. She brought her husband and two daughters along, and it wasn’t long before the family ran into even larger groups.
"I was curious and interested in the talented artists that we have in Melrose, and I wanted to support them for graciously opening up their homes/studios for others," Catalini said. "One highlight, when we first started the tour, was seeing a few big groups of people walking around to different locations. It is just another thing that makes me proud to live in this city. I enjoy living in Melrose, where there is such a nice sense of community, where people are opening up their homes to their neighbors."
At least one member of the family may have taken some artistic inspiration home with her.
"Annalise, my 15-year-old daughter, came home and painted a watercolor," Catalini said. "I think she was inspired by the art she saw."
It wasn’t just Melrosians who came out for the tour. Malden resident Helen Longuemare had such a good time on the inaugural tour that she made a point of getting to even more studios this time around.
"I enjoyed last year so much, and honestly was really looking forward to this year’s," she said. "Getting to meet the artists is a great experience. It makes you feel connected to their work."
A number of city officials took the tour this year, including Mayor Gail Infurna. Ward One Alderman John Tramontozzi visited studios as well, along with his wife Tina, who is gaining familiarity with the city’s art scene after recently joining the Melrose Cultural Council.
"I really enjoyed talking with the artists and seeing their creations," said Alderman Tramontozzi. "I truly appreciate the hard work they all put into their work. I know this community will continue to support the arts."
It was a golden opportunity for Tina Tramontozzi as well.
"It’s been especially exciting to discover how much creativity and talent there is in Melrose, and how much interest people have in learning and sharing and understanding," she said. "The Open Studio Tour was an event we were very excited about supporting because it engages the whole community on so many levels: the long-term engagement of the artists in preparation for the event, their financial benefit, the opportunity to present their work, the amazing enrichment to Melrose and beyond during the open studio event, as well as the establishment of a supportive network among the artists and fellow community members. It’s our hope that the open studio tour will expand. I am personally hoping for another day."
In part due to the council’s commitment, the tour will return for at least one day next year, and will likely expand in years to come.
"By coincidence, on Monday, the day after the event, we heard word that the Melrose Cultural Council awarded the Melrose Open Studio Tour a grant for 2019," said Dubois. "So it looks like there will be a third annual MOST. As we did last year, we plan on sending a survey to our mailing list to solicit feedback about the event and ways to enhance it for next year. Thank you to all who participated in the day."