New York, London … and New Bedford love coworking

As a city whose fortunes rose and fell with industries as diverse as whaling and textiles, New Bedford knows a thing or two about reinvention. While sometimes painful, it’s as inevitable as the United States transforming from a mercantile, maritime-based economy into an industrial powerhouse.

But….when does a movement go mainstream? When does a choice become a necessity? And, when can you pinpoint the moment when something recedes into the past as pointedly as whaling or textiles once did in New Bedford?

That moment may be upon us. Because in 2017, coworking came into its own – not just in New Bedford, at Groundwork! – but globally and in a big way.

In New York City and London, two iconic buildings – each of which signified something unique about both cities – were snatched up by WeWork, a chain of coworking spaces, and thus ceased to function as retail or financial centers of business. Instead, the Brave New World will now take reside in each – and that world will be defined by the economic egalitarianism of individual members rather the landlords.

On Oct. 24, 2017, The New York Times reported, “From the moment its doors opened more than a century ago, the Lord & Taylor building on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan has stood as a monument to old-school retail.

“But now, the forces buffeting the retail industry are diminishing Lord & Taylor’s presence as a New York institution. The company that owns the department store chain, Hudson’s Bay, said Tuesday that it was selling off the flagship store to WeWork, a seven-year-old start-up whose office-sharing model is helping to reinvent the concept of work space.”

Retail gave way to coworking and the gig economy on Fifth Avenue. (The gig economy is defined by people who earn their living as most Groundworkers do – as freelancers, tech pioneers, corporate workers who have the freedom to work away from the “home office,” entrepreneurs, business start-ups, or just plain creative people who seek an environment that releases rather than stifles them.)

Then, the same thing happened across the pond in London.

On Nov. 30, 2017, The Atlantic magazine’s City Lab website posted that WeWork again had found another home. City Lab wrote, “That a co-working company is guzzling big city office space isn’t in itself shocking; the building isn’t even the largest of three new WeWork locations in London. However, the new site isn’t just any building. The site of No. 1 Poultry is as famous for its eye-melting structure as it is for its long-standing role as a bellwether showing the direction in which London is heading at any given moment.

“Right now, the move suggests something notable. Tech-associated co-working spaces have moved beyond their recognized heartland, the ex-industrial and warehouse buildings that fringe the edge of central London. They’re now seeping into the financial district’s heart, gobbling up distinct buildings previously reserved for the city’s financial elite.”

We’re ahead of the curve here in New Bedford. Groundwork!, at 1213 Purchase Street – The Quest Center – has been at the heart of New Bedford since becoming the city’s first coworking space over two years ago.

When it opened its doors it, too signified something important in its home city of New Bedford. It signified that the former whaling capital, textile center and commercial fishing powerhouse was diving deep into the new headwinds roiling the economic waters of the nation.

Overlooking New Bedford’s storied harbor and housed in a building that was once a textile school, like the locations in New York City and London, Groundwork! and its members are helping to redefine its city for the future.

Perhaps you can pinpoint a moment in time when the past gives way to the future.

It’s when you can see it with your own eyes every day. Come take a look. 

I learned to say “Merry Christmas” in New Bedford

A display at Clasky Common – just in front of JA Parker School – celebrates Christmas culture around the world.

Way back when – more years than I care to remember or even admit to – I was a kid at John Avery Parker Elementary School not so far away from Groundwork! at County and Parker Streets in New Bedford. It may only be a distance of about 6-8 blocks from there to here –  1213 Purchase Street – but in between I’ve traveled many miles in many ways.

Which is why I now think it’s okay to say, “Merry Christmas” – even though in the 4th grade, I learned it wasn’t okay.

During that auspicious year, at Christmastime, we all exchanged gifts in class. The name I drew happened to be a friend of mine – a cool chap whose name now escapes me, so let’s just call him John.

When the day came to give each other presents, I got up and walked over to John and presented him with my gift. And then he did something astonishing.

He turned it down.

A Teaching & Learning Moment

The entire classroom fell silent. I stood there unsure of what to do or say as some 30 or so kids looked on at this awkward, silent tableau.

John eventually said, “I can’t accept Christmas gifts,” with an air of ennui and alarm.

Finally, our teacher addressed me and said that I was to sit down because John couldn’t accept Christmas gifts. This was conveyed with her usual stentorian delivery accompanied by the implicit suggestion that, like all the names of the planets and what 9 x 8 equaled, this was something I ought to have known.

I didn’t – but know now that John couldn’t accept a Christmas gift because John was Muslim.

And all these years later, I can’t help but think that what an incredible learning moment our class could have enjoyed if our teacher had told us that and encouraged John and myself to talk about what it meant to be Muslim at Christmas in New Bedford when someone hands you a Chia pet.

I held this teacher in high regard – and still do. So, I won’t write her name in this context because she was otherwise an excellent educator – one of my top five.

But she flunked this teaching moment – and it may be because when it comes to expressing “Merry Christmas,” things went haywire along the way to the North Pole.

The ‘War’ on Christmas

That’s largely because of the people who constantly seek to divide rather than unite us. You know who I’m talking about. People like Bill O’Reilly, whose “No Spin Zone” stoked the Yule fires of resentment year after year after year (until he was fired from FOX News for being an alleged sexual predator).

I assume FOX has found someone else to take his place and get folks all worked up because “some liberal Grinch is trying to destroy Christmas as a prelude to Armageddon” – or whatever the hell those people talk about. It’s too stupid to follow let alone understand.

But as time went on, I did understand something fundamental about that encounter in the 4th grade. And it was this: neither John nor I were wrong in how we behaved. We were just being ourselves.

I’m not in the 4th grade anymore – and I’m not afraid to say “Merry Christmas” for fear of the room going silent. I say it because I sincerely wish goodwill to the person or persons I’m saying it to – and hope they feel the same toward me however they may express the sentiment behind the words.

I say “Merry Christmas” because I grew up in a state that was 51% Catholic and overwhelmingly Christian. I say it not because I’m particularly religious, but it comes with the born and bred package and to fail to acknowledge that would be dishonest. “Happy Holidays” would deny the person I’m saying it to an invitation into the space between us by failing to provide any definition of who I am or where I come from.

That space is waiting to be filled by engaging in dialogue – as Pope Francis recently pointed out, and which was brought to my attention by…a Buddhist!

(Yes, there’s a Buddhist at Groundwork! And probably Christians, maybe Muslims, definitely a Pagan, or two or three…)

Pope Francis said, “The security of faith does not make us motionless or close us off, but sends us forth to bear witness and to dialogue with all people.”

You can’t do that by holding your tongue.

And saying “Merry Christmas” isn’t – and never should be – a declaration of war.

It should be an invitation to bond.

Small Works, Bookfest, Holiday Houses…and a brass band!

It’s a special (early) edition of YOUR WEEKEND this week – since Groundwork! is all over it! The coworking facility goes overtime beginning on Friday with a weekend full of special events.

On Friday, December 8 at 5:00 p.m., it’s a big opening reception for the Small Works show. That’s the one that was featured in a previous blog post, “Small Works=Big Idea.” It features over 150 works of small (12” x 12”) art from local, regional and national artists.

All the art is priced $200 or under and, since it’s the gift-buying season, is available to bring home right away after purchase. Literally, select a piece of original art you like – for yourself or as a gift – buy it and take it home.

During the Opening Reception, from 5:00 until 8:00 p.m. this Friday, a late edition to the festivities promises to put some jungle into the mingle. The Southcoast Brass Band trio contacted us out of the blue offering to play the opening! They’ll be playing holiday favorites from 6:00-8:00.

If you can’t make the opening, you don’t have to kiss our brass; you’re invited back on Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10 when we host the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest from noon-4:00 p.m. each day. And yes, the Small Works show (or what’s left of it after Friday night) will still be up and the art available for sale.

You’ll also find compelling books for children of all ages from local and regional authors and illustrators. The line up is as follows: Kathleen Souza, Michael Cifello, Maryellen Worrell, Elizabeth Larsen, Susan Nelson, Deb Arnold, Eric Sturtevant, Susan Drayton, Anne Soares, Stephanie Klimov, Jessie Nickerson Designs, Electrikk Clothing, and Subtext Books

We’re also pleased to host UMass Dartmouth’s Tagus Press, with their recent Children’s History of Portugal. And a children’s bookfest wouldn’t be complete without an appearance by ‘The Goat Lady’ – the beautiful book by artist Jane Bregoli.

Other goodies abound during the free, open to the public bookfest. Downtown New Bedford’s artisan gift store, Hippo will be offering select gifts for sale. As with previous bookfests, Destination Soups will be set up in the kitchen, offering their page-turning menu of grilled cheese, soup and more to guests.

Like the Small Works show, the Children’s Bookfest is designed to offer patrons affordable – and meaningful – gift-buying options. The Children’s History of Portugal, for instance, is a beautifully written and illustrated book that’s only $10.

But the introduction to reading – at any age – is priceless. So on Saturday, the bookfest is pleased to also host the New Bedford Free Public Library. They’ll be able to sign you or your kids up for a library card from right here at Groundwork! (Bring proof of residency!)

Many different elements of this weekend at Groundwork! – art, music, reading, food and just plain fun – meld together to collectively form a special New Bedford moment. It’s full of people who enrich our culture all year long. The skill of our writers, artists, merchants and musicians is a unique blend – and we’re happy to host so much talent under our roof this weekend.

In an even broader context, it’s also the weekend of the New Bedford Preservation Society’s Holiday House Tour – on Saturday, Dec. 9 from 4:00-8:00 p.m. and Sunday, Dec. 10 from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Details here.) And, Groundwork is located at 1213 Purchase Street, just  few blocks south of the historic Clasky Common Christmas Light Display.

Take it all in before or after visiting us for the Small Works show and the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest.

That sounds like a December to Remember.

It’s a wonderful YOUR WEEKEND…

Holiday Stroll

Beginning Friday, Dec. 1 – I wrote about the downtown New Bedford Holiday Shop & Stroll in an earlier post this week, but this huge, festive event deserves another shout-out. The schedule over two days (find it here) is filled with the type of eclectic events you’d expect from AHA! New Bedford – because they put it together! It also marks the official debut of Groundwork! as an AHA! partner; our Small Works show will be open tonight, Friday, Dec. 1 from 4:00-7:00 p.m. – begin or end your evening here! On Saturday, Dec. 2, run all over the downtown and put some jingle into your mingle.

A (Portuguese) Holiday Gathering

FRIDAY, DEC. 1 – The Center for Portuguese Studies and Culture/ Tagus Press at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth along with the Department of Portuguese, the Ferreira-Mendes Portuguese American Archives, Azores Airlines and the Consulate of Portugal in New Bedford cordially invites you their Holiday Gathering tonight from 5:30-8:30 p.m. The free event is being catered by Inner Bay Café and Grille and a raffle offers the opportunity to win round-trip airfare to Portugal courtesy of Azores Airlines. Tagus Press has been well-represented at Groundwork!’s bookfests with some great titles; they’ll be here again on Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10 with their “Children’s History of Portugal.” Tonight, you can get a sneak peek during the Gathering, held at Portuguese Consulate, Camões Room, 628 Pleasant Street, 2nd floor.

Free Booze!

SATURDAY, DEC. 2 – Douglas Wine & Spirits in the Fieldstone Plaza at 550 Kings Highway invites you to join them for their “Grand Holiday Tasting” of wine, beer and spirits and refreshments today from 1:00-4:00 p.m. Yeah – this will get you into the holiday mood! But remembers to bring a donation of a non-perishable food item for the St. Mary’s Church of New Bedford and St. Vincent de Paul Society food drive. When you give, you receive.

It’s a Wonderful Life

SATURDAY, DEC. 2 – Who doesn’t like “It’s a Wonderful Life”? Bet your bottom Bailey dollar you’ll like it even more on the big screen – where it will be tonight at the Zeiterion Theatre. For free, no less – no reservations required. It screens at 7:00 p.m. – you can hit the downtown Christmas tree lighting after the Holiday Shop & Stroll at 5:00 p.m. then head into the warm and fuzzy indoors.

 Acoustic on the Ave

SATURDAY, DEC. 2 – Cotali Mar resturant at 1178 Acushnet Avenue is but one of the thriving eating establishments defining this faded commercial corridor’s future as a prime dining destination. Tonight, they add some music to their usual menu of fine Portuguese dining. Acoustic guitarist and songwriter, David Alves performs in the lounge from 8:00-11:00 p.m. The jazz standards, covers and original tunes come free with your dinner. Get a taste with the video below:

Clasky Common Holiday Lighting

SUNDAY, DEC. 3 – I also covered this in a previous blog post – but it’s too good not to share again. The beloved holiday light display at Clasky Common Park gets lit today at 5:00 p.m. – and there’s a new addition to the bright lights: Destination Soups launches their free, Cocoa at the Common concession today, too! Read the full story here.

Judith Klein turns Nine

SUNDAY, DEC. 3 – A beautiful spot in Kilburn Mills Studios, Judith Klein Gallery (tucked away in the back of the former mill at 127 W. Rodney French Blvd.) celebrates its ninth anniversary with what it does best – and Opening Reception for a new exhibit. In all, 14 artists will have work for sale in the show – and they all invite you to come check it out today from 1:00-5:00 p.m.

Who remembers….Destination Soups?

Okay – let me state right in the lede: No worries! Destination Soups isn’t going anywhere!

But it occurred to me that Destination Soups is a candidate – 50 years from now – for one of those New Bedford Guide stories that recall The Way We Were.

You know the ones I’m talking about. Posts like “Who Remembers…Arlan’s Department Store?”; “Who Remembers…Hot Wheels and Skate Plus?”; or “Who remembers…Barbero’s Pizza?”

The posts appeal to our collective nostalgia and romance with urban life. Usually, the businesses profiled in these pieces hold a place in our hearts that cross generations. We may have never stepped foot in them – but our parents or grandparents did and that makes them real to us, too.

Destination Soups is one of those places – but the love affair is still passionate. DSoups – as it’s colloquially called – is the type of mom and pop business that gives definition to a city. Owner Devin Byrnes hasn’t just created an eatery, he’s brought together a family of terrific staff members and patrons. And he’s done that in an old-fashioned way; by fashioning a unique menu that draws people to DSoups because it just feels very special to New Bedford.

To weave a business into the very fabric of a place, you have to go that extra mile. DSoups does that at 149 Union Street and beyond. It pops up at special events and community gatherings of all kind – like the Bookfests we host here at Groundwork!

But this coming weekend, Devin and company really get deep by launching Cocoa at the Common.

Cocoa at the Common

It’s a different sort of pop-up from DSoups. As the name implies, it’s dedicated to serving Hot Chocolate. And, it will aim straight for the heartstrings by adding a new layer to a cherished New Bedford tradition: Cocoa at the Common will be serving free cocoa at the Clasky Common Park Holiday Lighting on Sunday, Dec. 3 from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. And, every Saturday until the New Year at the park during the Holiday Light Display from 5:30 to 8:00 p.m. thereafter (as in Dec. 9, 16, 23, 30). Grab a cup by the iconic statue of the soldier commemorating the Spanish-American War just beyond the entrance to the park on County Street.

The Clasky Common Park holiday light display is one of the beloved features of city life that somehow  – almost inexplicably – never disappeared, even when times weren’t as good as they are now in New Bedford. That’s probably part of its charm. It’s a reminder of the days featured in the “Who Remembers…” posts – but is still with us. (Tip of the hat to Greater New Bedford Regional Technical-Vocational High School faculty and students for all their work over the years maintaining the display.)

Yet, every good thing in a city sometimes needs some extra TLC now and then – and by launching Cocoa at the Common, Devin Byrnes is giving some new luster to the bright lights as well as renewed attention to them. He says that he hopes, “this leads to more overall involvement around the lights and the Common during the holidays.”

It may seem like a simple thing – but it’s not. Not least because it involves Devin himself standing outside in the December chill for a few hours each weekend! Also, he himself, DSoups as a business, and their supplier, Sysco – who donated the cups – are footing the bill for the free cocoa concession by the soldier.

Civic and Emotional Infrastructure

Beyond the personal commitment, it signifies an investment by a city business in New Bedford’s emotional and civic infrastructure. As we all know, infrastructure is the important foundation any city – or nation – builds its society on. Neglect it for too long, and you’re driving on streets like Cottage Street and the wheels come off.

It’s the same with civic and emotional infrastructure as it is with actual infrastructure. You need to keep it, too, in good repair. That’s no simple thing. That’s the constant application of time, talent and industry by a city’s citizenry, and business, political and cultural leaders.  

That’s Cocoa at the Common – courtesy of Destination Soups and Devin Byrnes. Free this Sunday, Dec. 3 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. and then every Saturday until Dec. 30 at the same time thereafter.

And 50 years from now, when somebody posts, “Who Remembers….Destination Soups?”, we’ll recall Devin Byrnes, Michael Poe, Michael Ribeiro, Bethany Santos-Fauteux, Danny Sallom, Chris Jones and everyone associated with DSoups and think….”Wasn’t that a time…?” whenever we walk through a luminous Clasky Common Park at Christmas.

Groundwork! + AHA!

It’s almost as exciting as chocolate meeting peanut butter and producing Reese’s. And, why it took so long to happen is like a head-slapping, “I shoulda had a V-8” epiphany.

The union under discussion here isn’t gastronomic but instead signifies a cultural moment. Because this past month, Groundwork! officially became an AHA! New Bedford partner.

Readers are no doubt quite familiar with both cultural juggernauts by this point.

Groundwork! is New Bedford’s first coworking facility. Filled with freelancers, entrepreneurs, small business owners, and creative professionals. And, it’s also a cultural leader – hosting the New Bedford Bookfest; numerous art shows in the Groundwork! Gallery; film nights and much more since its launch in the main space just slightly over two years ago.

AHA! New Bedford is, of course, the amazing, long-running, monthly downtown catalyst dedicated to the city’s Art, History and Architecture. It fulfills its mission by bringing thousands to the city’s streets every second Thursday of the month with all manner of special programming that highlights New Bedford’s cultural vibrancy and diversity.

And now, Groundwork! is happy and proud to be a full-fledged partner with AHA! in that mission. An AHA! partner is a business, organization or entity that helps make the event an unqualified success month after month, year after year by showcasing New Bedford’s industry and talent.

A Fine Romance

An Opening Reception in the Groundwork! lobby on AHA! night

But it’s not as if Groundwork! and AHA! haven’t been in sync up until now. It’s just that, like being in a long romance, neither thought of popping the question to the other until now!

A lot of Groundwork! events over the course of the past two years have been timed to coincide with the monthly downtown celebration. In fact, many of the artists who have shown in the Groundwork! Gallery have requested that their Opening Receptions be held on AHA! dates.

And, though the coworking facility is located in the Quest Center just north of the infamous “octopus” intersection, at 1213 Purchase Street, there’s a well-worn path between Groundwork! and New Bedford’s downtown – everyday, but especially on AHA! nights. Members and guests frequently either begin or end their AHA! evenings here – sandwiching the rich experience that is the eclectic line-up of events in between for a fully satisfying evening.

Countless nights of AHA!

The importance of AHA! to the renewal of New Bedford over the course of almost 20 years can’t be overstated. For many, coming downtown to sample or participate in the amazing menu of events every second Thursday of the month has been their first taste of the city as it first sizzled then slowly caught fire.

AHA! turned up that heat – and has kept it burning bright year in and year out. This writer was never been more astounded with the stunning change in downtown New Bedford than on AHA! nights.

Frequently, I would take the Peter Pan Bus straight from where I was living in New York City and arrive on Thursday evening for a long weekend visit. And nothing beat stepping off that bus at the SRTA terminal and walking straight into an AHA! night in full swing. Those AHA! moments were an eye-opener into what the city had become since I left years before – and ultimately, played a big part in enticing me back.

The discovery of Groundwork! after arriving back for good reinforced that decision – indeed, helped make it possible. So, the marriage of these two great entities in New Bedford combines the past and present and promises a fruitful future.

The Holiday Stroll

The partnerships cements itself this weekend – when Groundwork! debuts on the official AHA! calendar for the Holiday Shop & Stroll on Friday, December 1 and Saturday, December 2.

The Holiday Shop & Stroll is a special event organized by AHA! – in addition to its regular monthly evening on Thursday, Dec. 14, with the theme of City Sidewalks.

The Shop & Stroll doubles down on downtown, inviting residents and visitors to dine, shop and experience the holiday in this one-of-a-kind urban setting. As expected from AHA!, a full itinerary awaits – from a special gift boutique in the Zeiterion Theatre’s Penler Space and lobby to photos with Santa and culminating with the annual tree lighting at the New Bedford Free Public Library at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday. YOU CAN FIND THE FULL SCHEDULE OF EVENTS HERE.

Groundwork! will open its special Small Works show – a full week before the official opening reception on Friday, Dec. 8 – on Friday, Dec. 1 for the Holiday Shop & Stroll. As the AHA! calendar states, “Stroll by the Groundwork! Gallery (1213 Purchase Street) to shop the Small Works Show. A diverse selection of 160 beautiful and affordable 12”x12” works of art spanning from the south coast region and across the country. Curated by Jacob Ginga and Dena Haden. This is a cash and carry show – buy it and take it away!”

And with Small Works, the start of something big happens. Groundwork! and AHA! begin a creative collaboration in the city – each dedicated to propelling it into the future.  

Come along for the ride; we’ll leave a trail of Reese’s Pieces for you you to follow.

YOUR WEEKEND: Post-Thanksgiving Survival Guide

Whether you ate too much, traveled too far or fought over politics at the dinner table, Black Friday doesn’t have to be a day of consumer excess. It can be the start of a weekend of renewal and return to an enhanced (re: holiday season) reality. Here’s a few things to get you into the post giblet groove over the long weekend.

HIKE

SATURDAY, NOV. 25 – With forecast temps predicted to be a balmy 50 degrees, it’s a good chance to get outside before New England starts living up to its winter reputation. Today from 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. the Dartmouth Natural Resources Trust provides the opportunity with a Post-Thanksgiving Day hike through Destruction Brook Woods at 205 Slades Corner Road in South Dartmouth. Free, no reservations required.

CRAFTS

Beginning SATURDAY, NOV. 25 – There’s lots of craft fairs happening from now until Christmas at city schools, churches and other organizations. One of the biggest takes place on Saturday, November 25 and Sunday, November 26 from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. each day at the awesome Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School. (Whew – thank God we can just call it “Voke” from now on!) Voke goes all out for their annual craft fair, inviting over 150 vendors in for the weekend. Skip the big box stores and at all costs avoid the mall and head here for inspired Christmas gifts. (Pictured above – hats by Keeper in Stitches.) Oh – and you get to eat in the Voke cafeteria, too! This writer still fondly recalls the Creamed Turkey over Mashed Potatoes from his early High School daze…

SHOP

SATURDAY, NOV. 25 – It’s not consumer excess if you SHOP SMALL – as in Small Business Saturday. Two hour free parking in New Bedford means you get stroll stress-free through the historic downtown – and can even grab lunch at Destination Soups between purchases. The best way to chart your course over the cobblestones is the Groundwork! Gift Guide compiled by co-founder Sarah Athanas; find it here.

BINGE

ANYTIME – I would point out that Stranger Things 2 is now streaming on Netflix, but in my last binge-worthy round-up, Groundwork!’s Shelley Cardoos pointed out that comedy was nowhere to be found on my dark matters queue. Since a Louis C.K. marathon would bring us back to a bad place, here are some series selections with outstanding female comic performances…

AMAZON PRIME brings us back to the Mad Men era – but with a twist. “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” charts the journey of housewife-turned-comic Midge Maisel. Slate magazine calls it a knock-out, and after seeing the pilot, this writer agrees. The finale on a Greenwich Village stage was a dangerous scream. Only the pilot is up now; full series arrives when your turkey leftovers run dry on Nov. 29. But whet your appetite this weekend. Feature photo above: Rachel Brosnahan as Maisel.

ACORNTV: British humor is in a class be itself – and has often been the genesis for many an American sitcom. “Cradle To Grave” – like “Shameless” – will probably get a States-side treatment soon. But you can catch the original if you have an ACORN TV subscription. Based on the memoirs of British comedian Danny Baker, it  stars Peter Kay as the lovable, loud-mouthed, and larcenous patriarch of an eccentric South London family in the 1970s – but mom Lucy Speed steals the show and gives the series its heart and funniest moments, in my opinion. Bonus – great period tunes, too.

YOUR WEEKEND: Remembering, giving thanks and butts out

Transgender Day of Remembrance

Beginning FRIDAY, NOV. 17 – A special screening of the acclaimed documentary, “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson'” at the New Bedford Whaling Historical Park’s visitor center tonight kicks off a weekend of transgender awareness downtown to coincide with Transgender Day of Remembrance on Nov. 20.  The national park will be offering the film in partnership with New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! (NBAM) and The South Coast LGBTQ Network. The free, open to the public screening happens at 33 William Street and will start promptly at 6:00 p.m. “The Death and Life of Marsha P. Johnson”  examines the 1992 murder of Marsha P. Johnson, who was a transgender rights pioneer known as “the Rosa Parks of the LGBT movement.” It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2017. After the screening, viewers can ask questions of the film’s producer, L.A. Teodosio, who will be in attendance. (Teodosio is an award-winning independent film producer.) Lee Blake, of the New Bedford Historical Society, will speak on cultural appropriation and the concerns of whose voices are heard when history is interpreted. She will also address some of the controversy that has arisen as a result of Reina Gossett’s claims about the film’s portrayal of transgender issues. In addition to the Friday evening film, admission to the New Bedford Art Museum/ArtWorks! will be free from Friday through Sunday, November 19th. “That weekend is the community’s last chance to check out Beyond the Box, a photo exhibition by LBGTQ artist Jeep Wheat,” says Jamie Uretsky, NBAM’s curator in a press release.  “People need to see Jeep’s show. It’s modest in scale, but the work puts LBGTQ bodies front and center. These sort of images, even in 2017, are often left out of museum exhibitions. As a curator, I see this kind of under-representation as a sort of erasure and NBAM doesn’t want to be a part of a system of oppression that erases particular groups of people by omission.”

Hatch Street Open Studios

Beginning FRIDAY, NOV. 17 – Hatch Street Studios, in New Bedford’s north end at 88 Hatch Street, holds their annual Open Studios and Holiday Sale all weekend long – beginning tonight at 5:00 p.m. (until 8:00 p.m.) and continuing on Saturday and Sunday, 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. both days. “Visit the studios of more than 50 artists, working with materials as diverse as glass, ceramics, paint, wood, textiles, and ink,” they write. And add, “the festivities include food service, musical performances, and group exhibitions. Our building is handicapped accessible, with plenty of free parking.” Learn more about one of those 50 artists, Lori Bradley, at this link. And be sure to see Groundwork!’s Sandi Montour with her new book, This or That at S & G Project Gallery (Room 306a).

The Authenticity of Objects

SATURDAY, NOV. 18 – Gallery X holds an opening reception today from 5:00-8:00 p.m.  for what promises to be a fantastic show. The Authenticity of Objects: Still Lifes by Craig Coggeshall features that artist’s intricately detailed work in its Frederick Douglass Gallery. “With authentic observation, he elevates ordinary objects into an extraordinary realm of precision and composition,” – from the gallery statement. Also, check out Standard-Times’ art critic Don Wilkinson’s column on the man and his art for a deep dive. The exhibition is on view to the public during normal business hours through November 26 and during the November 9th AHA Night, as well as the opening reception. Oh – and the famous Gallery X raffle happens at 5:00 p.m. today, too!

You’re getting sleepy…

SUNDAY, NOV. 19 – November is host month of the Great American Smoke-Out – and while we love to riff off of a Mad Men-type culture, like sexism in the office, smoking is best left behind in the ‘60s. If you need a kick in the butt to butt out, the New Bedford Wellness Initiative is here to help. Today at 1:00 p.m., they will be hosting board-certified consulting hypnotist John Barboza at the Boys & Girls Club of Greater New Bedford (166 Jenney Street) to help you break the cycle of tobacco abuse. Like all Wellness programs, it’s free – and might save you more than the $10 a pack a day habit costs you.

Harvest of the Sea

SUNDAY, NOV. 19 – If you want to kick off Thanksgiving week by giving a little thanks, you can’t go wrong with the Seaman’s Bethel “Harvest of the Sea” service today at 3:00 p.m. Pastor Paul Wheeler will be giving the service at this annual event, which will also feature music by organist Frank Medeiros and a special performance by Caroline Blais. Seaman’s Bethel is located atop Johnny Cake Hill – you can’t miss it!

Small Works = Big Idea

Jake “Maker Jake” Ginga in Groundwork!’s The Shuttle conference room.

The packages have been arriving daily for some time now. Via USPS. Via UPS. Via Fedex. It’s been a constant stream of large manila envelopes and boxes of all shapes arriving from all over the region and country to Groundwork! Carefully wrapped packages containing the talent and inspiration of artists everywhere to New Bedford for the Small Works show – officially opening Fri. Dec. 8 but being installed now for a November 20 launch.

The Small Works show in Groundwork! Gallery being hung now for the holiday season is the big idea of curators Jacob “Maker Jake” Ginga and gallery founder, Dena Haden. The idea is simple but the concept is expansive. Due to Jake’s huge social media following, especially on Instagram, artists from the city, region and country were invited to participate by submitting their small works for sale during the show.

Why small? To keep it affordable. It’s a way of selling art that Jake is mastering from right here in New Bedford. He’s a pioneer in selling his small works online thanks to the careful cultivation of that massive social media following alluded to above.

Everyday Effort

It’s not only changing the economic landscape for this one artist –  it’s also good practice. Jake Ginga’s social media status isn’t just the result of digital savvy; it’s the consequence of many early hours in the studio accumulating an inventory by perfecting his work.

For those of us who have followed him on Instagram and Facebook these past couple of years, we’ve tagged along as this artist has painstakingly applied himself day after day – and achieved an aesthetic all his own due to that rigorous application. A cliche states that genius is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. Ginga has sweat the small stuff to achieve something big.

The Small Works show is an opportunity to gather in one place others who follow his example. All the work is 12” x 12” or under – and priced at $200 or under. That’s how Maker Jake made his name while honing his skills.

Hearing voices

It’s all mine now! (With a little Jake Ginga thrown in.)

Without compromising his vision. This writer knows; a faithful follower, one morning an image from the artist appeared in my Facebook feed and I thought, “That’s the one. That’s the one I’ve been waiting for…”  It spoke to me – and now it hangs on my wall.

Purchasing art is part appreciation of technical skill, and part listening to the art that says something to and for you. An admirer of all of Jake’s work, this piece was mine from the moment I saw it.

The Small Works show brings that special feeling and ability to participate in art to Groundwork! It’s a great, big idea brought to life by the combination of Jake Ginga, Dena Haden, and all the artists from – well, everywhere – who sent their artistic voices to New Bedford to tell us something we need to know.

Finding your art

Importantly, like the piece by Jake that captured my imagination, it’s priced to let everybody have some skin in the creative process and bring it home with them. The Small Works show is cash and carry – which means, you see it, you buy it, it’s yours to take home that day.

Groundwork! Members will get first crack at it. But everyone’s invited to stop by while the show is up from November 20 through December 24 to find what speaks to them – or calls out to be given away as a gift to someone special.

Some key dates in the Small Works show are: Up on the walls Monday, Nov. 20 and through Sunday, Dec. 24 during normal Groundwork! Hours of operation (Mon – Fri 9-5); Open for the downtown New Bedford Holiday Stroll on Friday, Dec. 1 from 4:00 – 7:00 p.m.; Opening Reception on Friday, Dec. 8 from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m.; and open during the Children’s New Bedford Bookfest on Saturday, Dec. 9 and Sunday, Dec. 10, noon – 4:00 p.m. each day.

YOUR WEEKEND: DANNYx2; TEDx; and more…

Operation: Food Drop

FRIDAY, NOV. 10 – Here’s a good event – and a better cause. Beginning at 10:00 a.m. in Buttonwood Park and lasting until 2:00 p.m., you can drop off donations of canned goods to help United Way of Greater New Bedford stock area food pantries for the holidays. Your donation will benefit the Hunger Heroes Project, which makes baskets of food for families in need – just in time for Thanksgiving weekend. Formerly called “Cans Across The Park,” radio station 1420 AM WBSM is a sponsor and you can see just what items are needed most on their website here. Then, just drop them off at the park! They’ll take it from there.

Your Spike & Our Danny

FRIDAY, NOV. 10 – Your Theatre’s latest – “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” which opened on Thursday, Nov. 9 – continues through the weekend. Your Theatre once made their home in the very space where you’ll now find Groundwork! – so we have a special affinity with the theatrical troupe. You’ll find them down at 136 Rivet Street, in the St. Martin’s Church complex (parking is in the County Street lot). “Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike” – by Christopher Durang – is a wild comedy that won the Tony Award for Best Play in 2013. Patrons of downtown New Bedford’s Destination Soups will see a familiar face on stage: front end guy Danny Sallom! Maybe a soliloquy from Hamlet will be served with that next grilled cheese sandwich you order at DSoups…See YourTheatre.org for showtimes.

TEDx New Bedford

SATURDAY, NOV. 11 – Okay – this is so huge for New Bedford – and Groundwork! – that I wrote an entire blog post about it. You can read it or, if you’re lazy, just read…”Groundwork! co-founder, gallery curator and artist Dena Haden has been involved in setting the stage – literally – for TEDx at the Z since its move there. And – drum roll please! – Sarah Athanas – the other visionary co-founder of Groundwork! – will actually be speaking on the TEDx stage at this Saturday’s event…” You need to know more? See you there! Tickets here.

More play dates…

SATURDAY, NOV. 11 – The 15th annual CULTURE*PARK short play marathon happens all day and into the night in the New Bedford Whaling Museum theater. The marathon presents 25-30 staged reading of new works from 2:00 p.m. until 10:30 p.m. – and you can read them all here. You’ll see a familiar name once again; Danny Sallom’s “Paintings” will be staged between 3:30 – 5:30. This guy is all over live theatre this weekend!

LuLaRoe Pop-Up!

SUNDAY, NOV. 12 – Hippo – owned by Groundwork! member Shelley Cardoos – is determined to bring downtown to life on Sunday afternoons. They frequently schedule pop-up events featuring local artisans at the shop (741 Purchase Street at the corner of Union) – and today is no exception. From noon – 3:00 p.m., Alyssa Parent will be at Hippo with her collection of LuLaRoe clothing. “Come check out these awesome leggings, shirts and dresses! If you haven’t worn this line before you’ll be pleasantly surprised,” Shelley writes. And a spot of shopping and lunch downtown sounds just groovy to us…