An “art tour” is a sort of voyage of discovery for art lovers. The idea is for patrons to be able to see what the arts have to offer in a particular city or region. Artists and art gallery owners come together for a day (or two) to show off the artwork being created in that area, sometimes to witness even the very act of creation itself. Such will be the exciting goings-on over the weekend of October 27 and 28 in Fitchburg, Mass., and vicinity.
“Fitchburg Open Studios” was organized by four stars of the Fitchburg art scene: gallery owner Tamar Russell Brown, pastel painter Lisa Regopoulos, and gallery owners Peter and Ann Capodagli. More than 20 artists responded to a call for artwork to be shown over the big weekend at many different sites, including the Fitchburg Art Museum and the various studios of participating artists. The 40,000 or so residents of the city of Fitchburg are about to find out just how much artistic talent the area has to offer.
Art lovers may need a full tank of gas or the equivalent energy on a bicycle for the entire weekend. The epicenter of the activities will be Fitchburg, of course, but the surrounding communities of Gardner, Leominster, Princeton and Townsend will be sites of studios where artists will be exhibiting.
“I had a dream to do this gallery,” says Tamar Russell Brown of Gallery Sitka at 454 Main Street in Fitchburg. The dream became a reality in May 2014 when Ms. Russell Brown started up a gallery at the Phoenix Park Mill in Shirley, and culminated with the grand opening of Gallery Sitka in downtown Fitchburg in July 2016. Some 40 area artists are represented by Sitka, and that gallery has an email list of over 100.
Art is a family affair for Tamar. “My father is an artist,” she reports, and her great aunt and great uncle were both painters. Though her father tried to warn her about the difficulty of making a living in the arts, she followed that dream anyway. The story goes all the way back to her teens, growing up in Tennessee. “I was collecting art at 15,” she recalls. Apparently she was destined for this calling in the art world from an early age.
Lisa Regopoulos paints pastels and considers herself an impressionistic artist. “I’m often trying to catch an image as if you had just caught a glimpse of it,” she says of her working methods. “You put more of yourself into the work,” she says, if you are working under that urgency of catching not just the visual fireworks of the images she paints en plein air (in the great outdoors) but also the mood, the feeling created while observing her subject matter. She’s out to capture, of course, an impression, and to communicate the excitement of a fleeting moment of beauty. The pastels are pigments held together by binders that allow tremendously vibrant colors to live on the paper surface, perhaps more strikingly than is possible with other materials.
Lisa will be opening her entire house to art lovers, hanging many recent paintings and working at the easel on a picture while her visitors look on. Some of the other artists who answered the call will be doing the same kind of demonstrations.
Ann and Peter Capodagli made their own dreams come true in 2008 when they opened the Boulder Art Gallery at 960 Main Street, in the shadow of the Rollstone Boulder, one of Fitchburg’s proudest landmarks and the inspiration for the name of the gallery. The lovely Upper Common area is the backdrop for the gallery, which also serves as Ann’s studio.
The Capodaglis were both teachers. Ann enjoyed 36 years as a Visual Arts instructor at Fitchburg High School, while Peter is a retired middle school science teacher who worked for 35 years in the Shirley school system. Ann is a watercolorist. Along with her watercolors, Ann will also be offering giclee prints and note cards at Boulder on both days of the art tour. Peter has been a collector of vintage art for many years. They are both dedicated to promoting and supporting local and regional artists.
Most of Boulder’s art is representational, Ms. Russell Brown says, with beautiful landscapes predominating. Sitka focuses more on abstract works that provide exciting interactions of pure color and texture.
Among the artists participating will be Doreen M. LaScola of Gardner, Ellen Schneeflock of Ashburnham, Pam Short of Lancaster, Linda Williams of Ashby, Leonard A. Haug of Princeton, Therese R. Blood of Westminster, as well as Brian G. Beaudoin, Randy LeSage, Christopher Di Nunzio, Kathryn Swantee, Iphigenia Burg, Jennifer Jones, Jen Hemenway, Gail Bloom, Sally Sargent, Kate Shaffer, Priscilla Mavrikis Walker, Keven McCarthy and Wil Darcangelo.
Ms. Russell Brown has created a special map to guide art lovers to all the participating studios and galleries. Go to fitchburgopenstudios.com for the map and more information about the big weekend.