Join us at El Taller Thursday October 30th 7-9pm
FREE event to learn about Maya, the animation software with Edwin Jack!
Eagle Tribune article about Jonathan Henriquez' Beland Gallery exhibition was picked up by Associated Press and featured on WCVB Channel 5.
LAWRENCE — Colors, words, shapes, broken faces and bodies — together they make a world in Jonathan Henriquez's new paintings.
They tell a story, too, drawing inspiration from a long dead plastic surgeon — Sir Archibald McIndoe. The experimental surgeon treated and gave life to badly burned pilots and bombers in World War II.
Henriquez, 20, a lively, wide-eyed award-winning painter from Methuen now living in Lawrence, says he feels like a plastic surgeon when painting.
In particular, like McIndoe, who developed new techniques for treating deep burns and injuries that up until that time would likely have killed the victims.
Henriquez said he admires McIndoe's imaginative thinking.
"He didn't go by plastic surgeon books, he went by looking at patients and (thinking), 'Let's see, I can work with (this),'" Henriquez said.
Henriquez's new paintings will be on display and for sale at an exhibit that opens with a reception Friday at 5 p.m. at the Essex Art Center, 56 Island St. in Lawrence. The show runs from Sept. 12 to Oct. 17.
For his part, Henriquez hopes anyone who sees the show will be glad they saw it.
Cathy McLaurin, head of the art center's special projects, expects visitors to the exhibit to be glad they came — and that future visitors to future Henriquez shows will likewise be glad for having seen his work.
She said he is a skilled drawer and mature beyond his years. She has been following his work and talking with him for the past year and admires his work ethic and commitment to art.
McLaurin, an artist herself, sees Henriquez poised to make a leap, both personally and in his work.
Henriquez has been transfixed by art since early childhood. At 6 he was drawn to the work of mural painters in the Bronx in New York City.
Later, when he moved to the Merrimack Valley, he started working his art, painting his walls at home at the age of 8.
"I feel there is creativity all around me," he said. "Whatever I have my hands on I try to make something with it."
If he had a napkin and a bottle of ketchup?
"I am not going to eat something with the ketchup and wipe my mouth," he said. Rather, he said he'd make something with the ketchup and napkin.
He was a kid whose mother told him not to play with his food. He did and still does.
He came across information on Sir Archibald McIndoe, who died in 1960, by accident. He was looking at a YouTube video suggested by a friend when his eye wondered from the page and saw a description of McIndoe's work.
That stumbling led to immersion. He has watched numerous documentaries and read numerous pieces about the surgeon.
Henriquez, who graduated from Methuen High School and studies art at Northern Essex Community College, made an art project based on McIndoe's work and the burn victims he treated.
Those men rallied under McIndoe's care, proudly claiming membership in the Guinea Pig Club. That's what the patients were called. They grew from 39 patients to more than 600. They had their own anthem and went on to help other burn victims in later years.
Henriquez said seven of 11 pieces in his upcoming show are based on case histories of men treated by McIndoe.
"I look at my canvases as a Guinea Pig Club," he said.
John Budzyna believes art not only transforms lives, but also builds communities.
“Art does not succeed by itself,” said Budzyna, Essex Art Center’s new executive director. “It’s not art until it’s shared because it’s about building relationships, which is a vital part of being alive.”
Budzyna, 47, is succeeding Leslie Costello, co-founder of the art center and executive director for the past 20 years. He begins the new job on June 16.
Before taking the job in Lawrence, Budzyna was executive director of the Arlington Center for the Arts.
“It was my choice to step down,” Costello said. “It’s time for somebody else to steer it along and I’m very excited to see what he can do. He brings a whole new energy and goals to the table.”
Costello’s accomplishments at the art center for the past two decades will be celebrated June 6 during the New Paint event at the Steven’s Estate in North Andover.
The Essex Art Center’s board of directors appointed Budzyna unanimously, said Ron Hilbink, Essex Art Center Board president.
“Given John’s passion for the arts, his leadership capabilities, creativity and management skills, the board appointed him to take the Essex Art Center to its next level of achievement,” Hilbink said in a statement.
The non-profit art organization offers classroom instruction in a variety of mediums, from ceramics, photography, drawing, painting silk-screening, bookmaking, sculpture and metal casting. The center also hosts 12 exhibits in its gallery annually.
Budzyna said he applied for the job in Lawrence to be closer to his home in Newburyport and to do outreach with other local organizations in promoting the arts.
The acting bug runs in Budzyna’s family. His wife, Deirdre, runs Acting Out Production at the Tannery in Newburyport; their daughter, Maggie has appeared in several performances at North Shore Music Theater in Beverly and their son, Collin, has been performing since he was a youngster. Their third daughter, Erin is active at Dance Place.
Maggie also raises money through Performing Project to offer Lawrence youngsters a chance to attend a two-week theater camp.
“Art is a way to express yourself creatively either through visual art, performing, the spoken word or poetry,” he said. “The job of an art administrator is to give people that entry into the field of art.”
Budzyna has been surrounded by both theater and visual arts all of his life.
The Worcester native has a degree in performing arts from State University of New York, Albany and a master’s degree in management from Lesley University. After getting his bachelor’s degree, he remained in New York as an aspiring artist. When that did not pan out, he worked for biotech and software companies.
The theater doors opened for him when he began working in the group sales department at North Shore Music Theater in Beverly as a bookkeeper and eventually as business manager and executive director at Firehouse Center for the Arts in Newburyport.
In his years in the theater he has done everything from acting, singing, directing, doing parodies and impersonations.
In Newburyport, he is known for hosting a “Sound of Music” sing-a-long with a vocal warm-up. Throughout the film, Budzyna would use props. The show also included a judged fancy-dress competition with prizes for the winners.
Budzyna also took the audience at the Firehouse on a singing and comedy trip as he hosted and performed “Variety Tonight.”
“Without art, it would be a grey, dark, bland and inhumane world,” he said. “Art is part of humanity since the beginning when people were telling stories and drawing pictures of how they felt.”
Budzyna said that is why it’s important to encourage both children and adults who want to try their hand in the visual arts.
“We see that learning how to draw gives children a sense of accomplishment and pride and reinforcing that helps builds courage and confidence,” Budzyna said. “When an adult picks up a brush and looks at the art, you see reassurance and confidence growing. There’s nothing greater than building confidence through art.”
THEATER OF WAR:
Paul Endres Jr.'s Tales of the American Burden
April 7 - June 14, 2014
Opening Reception: Thursday, April 10, 6-8pm
A night of short video screenings will be held at the Essex Art Center on April 8, 2014 at 6pm as part of the exhibition !que lastima!. We would like to invite all members of the community to submit their videos to be screened alongside video works by members of ¡que lastima!. Send your video to firstname.lastname@example.org, by April 6, 2014. Videos should be 0-10 minutes long, and .mov or .avi files are preferered. Download flyer
ELLEN RICH: MOSTLY SUNNY, SCATTERED CLOUDS Scrumptious colors and awkward shapes and alignments power this longtime Boston artist’s shaped, mixed-media paintings. Populated with circles, grids, and slashes, the abstract works have a warts-and-all exuberance about them. Through Feb. 14. Essex Art Center, 56 Island St., Lawrence. 978-685-2343, www.essexartcenter.com
LAWRENCE — As an art lover, Mori Espaillat wanted to share her passion with area residents.
Espaillat and her husband, Benny, who live in Haverhill, organized an exhibit at the Essex Art Center featuring five renowned photographers from the Dominican Republic.
Titled “From the Pinhole to Digital Photography,” the exhibit features the works of Vitico Cabrera, Jose Joaquin Lama, Elka Diaz and Alex Guerrero.
“We believe art is culture and wanted to bring that to Lawrence, which has given us so much,’’ Espaillat said. “This is our way of paying it forward.’’
After the photography exhibit ends, Espaillat will be curate for “Caribbean Color and Magic,” featuring artists Ricardo-Arsenio Toribio, Victor Rafael Tavares and Edward Telleria — all from the Dominican Republic. The event will be Nov. 22 to Dec. 19. The opening reception is Nov. 22 from 5 to 7 p.m.
Essex Art Center Executive Director Leslie Costello thought “it was a great idea” when Mori Espaillat talked to her about having the work of artists from the Dominican Republic on display. In the past, Costello said artists of Dominican descent living in Lawrence have had shows at the art center and have hosted works by artists from Colombia, England and Canada.
“The photographs are beautiful and, although most of them were taken in the Dominican Republic, they have universal themes that have been modified by pinhole cameras or computers,” Costello said.
Cabrera said a pinhole camera is a box on which a hole is made with a needle. The simple instrument does not have a lens, and light from a scene passes through the hole, thus projecting an inverted image on the other side of the box.
The composition of the photographs and the colors yellow, pink, red and green are not the only characteristics that make them stand out, Costello said.
“It’s more the way they have displayed it,’’ she said. “The artists painted a gray line on the white walls where they hung their photos on white mats in square and rectangular formats.’’
In his photographs, Cabrera said he wants to capture life from birth to death. One of his favorite pictures is of a man sitting at the end of a bench at a property owned by Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo. While most of the image is dark, the man’s silhouette is partly illuminated by light coming into the old barn. Others on display include a boy looking through a wooden hole with only half of his face showing and a girl with a handful of sea shells.
Diaz was a professional African Haitian Dominican dancer before picking up a camera.
She said her goal as a photographer is to denounce injustices and to document the stories of long-time teachers in her native land. On display are an array of black-and-white photos showing the faces of a singer, a musician and an old man wearing a straw hat with one eye in color.
Through his images, Lama said he wants to show the lives of children. Lama’s photos in the exhibit include a little girl deep in thought in front of a bouquet of flowers at the market, a girl sucking her thumb while cuddled in her father’s arms, and children in silhouette looking at a boat floating on the ocean.
“I like to photograph children because they are the future, and the images captured are the only tangible that we will have later,” Lama said.
Cabrera said it’s important for Dominicans and other ethnic groups living in the Merrimack Valley get to see what life is like in the Caribbean island.
“There’s a lot of misconceptions and, through the photos, you can see that Dominicans are happy, humble, hard workers,” Cabrera said.
“As photographers, we have a great responsibility to represent our culture, and a picture is worth a thousand words,” Diaz said. “It’s an imprint that will be left forever.”
IF YOU GO What: "From the Pinhole to Digital Photography,'' an exhibit of works by photographers from the Dominican Republic When: Now through Nov. 15, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Closed Saturdays and Sundays. Where: Essex Art Center, 60 Island St. ABOUT THE ARTISTS Vitico Cabrera has been a photographer most of his life. His family owned a photo studio. He has shown his work throughout the world. Alex Guerrero, a visual artist, is one of the most popular poster designers in his native country. He studied at the School of Applied Arts in Prague. Elka Diaz is one of the most prominent female photographers in Dominican Republic, although she was formally trained in traditional Dominican folk dancing and singing. Jose Joaquin Lama is known for capturing the moment in a way that stretches the imagination.
LAWRENCE — On a narrow, hard-packed strip of land wedged between a nightclub and a law office on a downtown street, 11 local teenagers are learning lessons in art, teamwork and hometown pride.
Over the next few days, the teens will cover the dreary red brick wall beside the vacant Essex Street lot with a brightly colored collage of images of the musicians they love – an eclectic mix that includes Bob Marley, Romeo Santos, Prince and Leonard Bernstein – as the first step in building a public park that also will include flower beds, benches and a cobblestone walk.
“I love her style – the dreads, everything,” said Cindy Davila, a 17-year-old senior at Lawrence High School, taking a break from the work yesterday to explain why she chose to paint her space on the 90-foot-long wall with an image of Lauryn Hill, a Grammy Award winning rapper who has recorded 16 albums.
“The coolest part is that the kids chose the themes, designed the murals and will paint them,” said Eric Allshouse, a visual arts teacher at Lawrence High with an infectious enthusiasm who helped conceive of the project and is overseeing the effort. “I just steer the ship to make sure we don’t crash.”
Allshouse has worked with other students to paint other murals with other themes in Lawrence, including one depicting sports stars like Larry Bird at a handball court in Costello Park. This summer, he and the Essex Arts Center formalized the effort into the Lawrence Mural Arts Program. They recruited the teens at Valley Works, a South Union Street employment center that draws on a federal grant to pay the teens the $8-an-hour minimum wage.
Leslie Costello, executive director at the Essex Arts Center, said paying the teens for their work is key to the program’s success.
“Kids in under-served populations need to make money when they’re teenagers because they need to contribute to their family’s income,” Costello said. “We’re giving them employment. We’re teaching them art. We’re making them employable.”
Like most public art, the project has several benefactors. Besides the arts center, Valley Works and Allshouse, who is using his teacher’s salary to make up shortfalls in his supply budget, the mural project’s benefactors include the Merrimack Valley Sandbox Initiative, which donated $500 for supplies, and the city’s Department of Community Development, which is securing permission from landlords to use the sides of their buildings as canvasses.
“We picked out vacant lots we’re trying to fix up and walls that it would be nice to have murals on,” said Art McCabe, the city’s community development manager.
“To me, (the Essex Street lot) was a great lot,’’ he said. “It’s right in the retail area of the city that we’re trying to enhance.”
A few blocks west on Essex Street, the teens recently completed a striking black-and-white portrait of Robert Frost on top of a brilliant bright red background, inscripted with an iconic verse from Frost’s most famous poem, “The Road Not Taken.” Frost, like Bernstein, had deep Lawrence roots. Yesterday, the teens swirled around the lot beside the bar and law office as they organized their next project, picking their colors from a dozen or so paint cans and climbing up and down four ladders propped against the wall.
“We want a lot of colors for John Lennon – tie-died, orange, red, purple,” said Davila, the Lawrence High senior. “Bright colors that will bring people in.”
LAWRENCE — After 20 years of inspiring the creativity of thousands of young lives, the Essex Art Center has become one of those places that community boosters like to call “the heart and soul of the city.”
The non-profit art center originally opened during February school vacation in 1994 in a storefront at 351 Essex St.. Located in the heart of downtown Lawrence, it quickly became a hangout for local kids to express themselves artistically. There, in a small classroom, teens and adults received art instruction. Area people of all ages from across the Merrimack Valley also came to view art in the gallery.
But the center quickly outgrew its quarters and relocated in 1995 to a new home at 56 Island St., where the space more than quadrupled. So did the opportunities for those who wanted to explore their artistic talents. And they responded with greater interest than the center’s creators ever imagined.
Classes are offered all four seasons. The center holds 12 gallery exhibitions. The opening reception of each one draws about 200 local and regional art lovers.
“People said, ‘you can’t do openings on a Friday evening in Lawrence because people won’t come’,” said Helen Tory, 67, of Essex. She is the center’s assistant director and one of three women who met at the now-defunct Bradford College and later founded the center.
“I think we gave people heart, though. Yes, people will come and appreciate the art in Lawrence. There has been an impact of the area where we are. People look up to the art center to helping develop that area,” Tory said.
“We love Lawrence. We won’t move from Lawrence. We love the people and the energy of Lawrence and we have brought a lot of people to Lawrence who wouldn’t have otherwise come,” she said.
Tory, Leslie Costello and Linda Maddox — all who studied art at Bradford College — embarked on a mission in 1993 to create a center where residents in Greater Lawrence could learn about and appreciate fine art. Their dream has done much more for the city and surrounding communities, particularly for the young children who have remained a primary focus of the center.
“We serve about 1,500 a year in after-school classes, groups and field trips, different schools we give classes to,” Tory said.
“Every single one of those children, whether they pay the full amount of registration or whether we give them full scholarship, they have an equal opportunity to explore art. There are kids who went to college who wouldn’t have otherwise dreamed of going to college. Taking art classes has given them confidence and hope and a sense of empowerment as well,” Tory said.
“We’re all about process, giving them an opportunity to explore. They are working with artists who introduce them to art and teach them. And then, they are given the opportunity to explore in small groups. We usually have maximum class of eight. It’s about finding out who they are and exploring their own creativity,” she said.
The center’s most popular age group is 6 to 12. But the 50 on-call artists who teach classes and workshops have students ranging from 4-year-olds all the way up to 90-year-olds. The center fills the void as an important resource to community organizations, neighborhoods, charter schools and public schools in providing art education.
People with learning and physical disabilities, young graffiti artists who have gotten in trouble with the law and those from poor economic backgrounds all benefit from the center’s programs.
Most of the students come from the Merrimack Valley, Southern New Hampshire and communities throughout Essex County. Some come up from Boston. About a third are Lawrence residents.
“The thing I am most proud of is that people from a very diverse group of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds are mixed together — rich-poor, black-white — and we have no problems, that I love,” Tory said.
Kids remains the future target of the nonprofit organization that has helped reshape the lives of thousands of young people already.
“We’re very interested in working more with the high schools. There’s a lot to be done. One of our aims at the moment is to get a good solid program with the public schools,” Tory said.
I first met David Ritter at a screening of his documentary “German Town: The Lost Story of Seaford Town, Jamaica.” It was shown in the Essex Art Center’s main gallery in Lawrence. (The same place I would later meet Ritter for this interview.) In the audience were people of diverse backgrounds—Jewish, Greek, Italian, East Indian, and Jamaican, to name a few. I mention this because though the subject of the documentary seems specific to one culture, the topic addresses all our stories.
Ritter, who has studied TV production at the University of Lowell and video art at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts Boston, divides his time between two cultures: that of the Merrimack Valley, and that of the West Indies. An articulate young man who is passionate about people, culture, music, and art, he is the first to shine light on a small mountain enclave of German descendents in Westmoreland, Jamaica. The film reaches back into their complex history and asks: How did they get there? What was their purpose? How important is it for us to hold on to our heritage when we become part of another country? And what happens if we don’t? All these questions and more are explored, which is why this story taps into all our immigrant heritages. It has been or will be shown nationally and internationally.
My goal in speaking to Ritter was to delve deeper into the man behind the camera and into his development in the Valley as a documentarian with a global mission. Please tell me a little about your cultural background. You were born in Methuen, of French, British, Italian, and German heritage, yet you have spent much time in Haiti and Jamaica and consider yourself West Indian. DR: Yes, I was born in Methuen. I’ve spent much of my life making a rather long commute between Haiti and the USA. I identify with my Caribbean background but have just as much affection for my New England background, being as I was educated in New Hampshire and Massachusetts and find myself back in the area every year.
How did being from the Merrimack Valley help or hurt you in your transition to adopting the Caribbean culture?
DR: I would say the more I learn about New England, the more I understand many different elements throughout the Caribbean and vice versa. Jamaica has many links to British culture and heritage the same way New England does, and through this I can see what makes us alike and what makes us different.
Yes, that brings me to the next question. As you know I saw the documentary, and I was wondering if you could tell us how you discovered what you call the "lost story," meaning the unexplored population of Germans in Jamaica.
DR: I always knew about German Town, Jamaica, but had never visited until around 2010. I read stories written about the area throughout the years, and it built my interest in the village that I always had a hidden but deep fascination with. Being of German heritage myself it simply struck a chord with me and awakened some kind of cultural affection I have to history and things relating to German culture. As I am a small minority there, the question of my light skin comes up in conversation almost daily. . . . Having the question come up so often made me ponder the subject of ethnic heritage and culture and how that applies to us in a contemporary sense.
So what did you discover on a personal level, and on a broader cultural level?
DR: I learned there can be a dichotomy of cultural preservation and ethnic unity versus assimilation into a new society. Neither in my opinion are negative things: "assimilation" or "cultural preservation." In fact, I found both concepts to be important and something that can be balanced.
Most people in German Town are proud Jamaicans who love their country and culture but some people at the same time have a sense of separate identity. Something about their village and ethnic lineage defines them but their knowledge of what those things are can be often vague.
I suppose this lack of understanding and this lack of German culture being passed down has left many with a sense of sadness and a want. . . . Within 50–100 years what is left of the culture will most likely be a very small paragraph within a few history books.
What did I learn on a personal level? While driving around on Jamaican Independence Day when I was filming, on the radio were speeches from black nationalist speakers. All had very important things to say. But Malcom X’s words pierced my heart: "If you hate the roots of the tree you hate the whole tree because the tree cannot live without its roots!" It summed up my entire experience.
Essex Art Center was just chosen by over 2000 readers of Merrimack Valley Magazine as Best Retail Art Gallery in the region. The award ceremony was held at the Stevens Estate on June 25th, 2013.
An examination of Lawrence's remarkable Essex Art Center as presented by founding Executive Director Leslie Costello and Board of Directors member Les Wood.
LAWRENCE, MA. León Tolstoi dijo una vez: “Hay quienes cruzan el bosque y soloven leña para el fuego”. Sinembargo, para Susan Welch, fotógrafa profesional, pasar por el bosque, con su cámaraen mano, significa una experiencia totalmente diferente. En la vida, cuando un artistase encuentra ante el majestuoso misterio de la Naturaleza, la mística que se creaentre ambos es simplemente inexplicable.
“El arte es el reflejo dela belleza del Universo”, expresó Welch en una entre-vista concedida a LawrenceVale, en junio 2, en la 14taSubasta Anual New Paint del Essex Art Center, celebrada en Jackson Lumber. El evento, en el cual muchos dejaron su impronta, fue unéxito apabullante. Susan Welch se encontraba entrelos 31 artistas que exhibieron sus obras de arte en la actividad para beneficiar alrededor de 1,600 niños que necesitanfinanciar sus estudios de arte.
“Fotografiar los niños esuna alegría especial para mí. Son su inocencia y purezaque los hace encantadores. Estas cualidades son las máshermosas que se revelan enuna atmósfera espontánea, relajada y divertida”, escribió Welch en su página Web oficial www.susanwelch.com.
Cuando Welch cruza por nuestra comunidad siempre capta algo de la belleza ehistoria de Lawrence, comoesa fotografía subastada enel evento de aquellas centenarias piezas de engranaje delos molinos, diseñadas paracontrolar el flujo de agua delcanal del norte, en Lawrence. Piezas vivas de la Revolución Industrial que hansoportado años de inviernos y uso en Nueva Inglaterra.
“No soy más que una ‘Testigo de la belleza’, una facilitadora que capturaesos momentos preciososque siempre atesorarás”, concluyó Welch posandoante su fotografía de engra-najes. Susan Welch tienesu propio estudio fotográfico en la 60 de la Island St.,Lawrence.
Susan Welch "Art is the reflection of the universe’s beauty”
LAWRENCE, MA. Leon Tolstoy once said: “There are those who walk through the woods and only see logs for the fireplace.” However, for Susan Welch, a professional photographer, to go through the woods with her camera in hand, means a totally different experience. In life, when an artist issurrounded by the majestic mystery of Nature the mysticism created between theartist and Nature is simply inexplicable.
“Art is the reflection of the Universe’s beauty,” Welch said on an interview with Lawrence Vale, on June 2, at the 14th Annual Auction ‘New Paint' of the Essex Art Center; and which was celebrated at Jackson Lumber. The event, in which many left their marks, was a great success. Susan Welch was among the 31 artists who exhibited their artworks at the activity to benefit about 1,600 children who need t ofinance their art studies.
“Photographing children is a special joy to me. It is their innocence & purity that is so appealing. These beautiful qualities are best revealed in an atmosphere that is spontaneous, relaxed and fun,” Welch wrote on her official website www.susanwelch.com.
When Welch walks through out our community, she always captures something of the beauty and history of Lawrence. Like her photography auctioned at the event, which depicts the century old gears of the mills designed to control the flow of water on the north canal, in Lawrence. Those are live pieces of the Industrial Revolution, which have endured years of winters and use in New England.
“I am merely a ‘Witness to Beauty’, a facilitator to capture those precious moments that you will always treasure,” Welch concluded, posing at her gears photography. Susan Welch has her own photography studio on 60 Island Street, Lawrence.