Thursday, April 23, 2009

Article to share: Malden Artists' Havens Pick Up Support

Photo: Sand T

MALDEN - Artists' havens pick up support
By John Laidler, Globe Correspondent, 3/6/2003
This story was published on page 1 of the Boston Globe North section on 3/6/2003.

Painters, sculptors, photographers, and dancers could help Malden bring new vitality to its downtown.

That's the idea behind an effort city officials are pursuing with Malden's artists' community. The initiative involves developing affordable spaces in Malden Square for artists to live and work.

At a meeting with city officials last week, about 45 artists turned out to express support for the idea, according to Deborah Burke, the city's marketing director. Artists said there is a need for live/work spaces, as well as for work studios that do not include a residence.

Malden Redevelopment Authority Director Stephen M. Wishoski said the show of support has spurred officials to move ahead in exploring the idea.

''We were very encouraged that in fact there is a very viable local art community,'' he said. ''And my reaction to the meeting is that they were very supportive and enthusiastic about the idea of us doing this.''

Wishoski noted that other communities are looking at ways to attract artists to live and work in their downtowns. But he said Malden's proximity to Boston could make the city a particular magnet to artists.

Photo: Sand T
Helping organize the recent meeting was Sand T, a local artist who does painting, sculpture, and art installation - a mixed media art form. She and her husband, Wes Kalloch, also a painter, operate a non-commercial art space from their garage that is used by the local art community for shows and other gatherings.

''I'm very happy with the turnout, and with all the energy and great enthusiasm of this,'' she said.

Eda Daniel, another artist who attended the meeting, said the session was ''very exciting.''

''The city's interest in supporting artists is a wonderful surprise to me,'' said Daniel, a former semi-professional dancer who now engages in quilting and photography.

''It would be wonderful for the city to form a partnership with artists,'' she said.

''I was thrilled... that they would even think of doing this,'' said Stephanie Mahan Stigliano, an artist who teaches at Pine Manor College.

''Where artists usually have to hide away, find a space and not tell anyone they are using it to make art, here the city was asking our opinion. I came back from the meeting so energized,'' said Stigliano, who self-publishes art in book form.

Wishoski said the effort to develop artist live and/or work space could help the city with its efforts to revitalize the square. Those efforts have included the city's adoption last year of a rezoning plan to encourage more housing downtown.

He said Malden was prompted to consider building a downtown artists' community by the ongoing displacement of many artists from Boston's Fort Point Channel neighborhood due to redevelopment and rising rents. He said the city also saw it as a potential way to make productive use of vacant space above retail stores.

In addition, the city believes artist space could be developed in a vacant convent building on Irving Street that Malden hopes to acquire from the Archdiocese of Boston, Wishoski said.

''Our ultimate goal is to create a community of artists who will draw people into the downtown,'' he said, ''people from Malden or outside who would be interested in viewing the works of the various artists and purchasing it.''

He said it is hoped in particular that a thriving arts community could help the city achieve its goal of generating more evening activity in the square. A thriving arts community could help support restaurants and other businesses that operate in the evening.

Burke, who represents Mayor Richard C. Howard on a City Council downtown committee, said the city hopes that in exchange for financial incentives, artists would donate some of their time to work with the community and schools on art projects.

Wishoski and Burke plan to approach the owners of downtown buildings who may have vacant space to gauge their interest in leasing or selling it for use by artists. Wishoski said the Redevelopment Authority could tap into grant money to subsidize the artist live/work space.

The city also plans to discuss with the archdiocese its interest in the former convent building, Wishoski said.

Photo: Sand T
Sand T, who formerly lived in the Fort Point neighborhood, said she was among 35 artists forced to move from her building because of a developer's plans to replace it with a parking garage. Since moving to Malden three years ago, the Malaysian-born artist has communicated often with Howard, expressing her hope that the city openly welcome displaced artists.

''For me, this is really exciting,'' she said. ''Artists I speak to or encountered want to see a vibrant arts community in Malden. We need that because art and culture can enrich our lives.''

This story was published on page 1 of the Boston Globe North section on 3/6/2003.