Taking the New Bedford Arts Community to the Next Level

Sometimes, all the planets line up and you’re afforded new opportunities in life to seize upon.

New Bedford’s arts economy is about to be offered one hell of an opportunity. An opportunity that arrives with an appeal to participate in an effort to shape the next decade or so of the city and region’s arts and culture landscape. It begins Tuesday, June 6 at 5:00pm at Groundwork! when the Community Foundation holds the first of several community meetings designed to help clarify a vision of that future.

The Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts

Many readers are probably familiar with the Community Foundation of Southeastern Massachusetts. If not, their mission statement is simple: To mobilize philanthropy by matching donors and resources with community needs for the benefit of our region.

John Vasconcellos, formerly of The Trustees of Reservations, became president of the Community Foundation about 10 months ago. He explains to me that as he thought about his new role and how to position the foundation for its own future, he couldn’t help but think about making it more responsive to everything happening in and around New Bedford and its burgeoning arts scene.

We all know New Bedford’s reputation as a home to artists and artisans and as an arts destination has exploded in the last decade or so. But fully integrating that growth into a plan that has tangible, long-term benefits for the community remains elusive. Making that happen is the goal Vasconcellos pondered when he assumed the presidency of the Community Foundation – even as a chance to bring some amazing resources to bear on the task presented itself to him.

The Barr Foundation

The Boston-based Barr Foundation also has a mission. It is this: to invest in human, natural, and creative potential, serving as thoughtful stewards and catalysts.” In addition to impressive work in the realms of climate-change and education, their Arts & Creativity programs have their own agenda. It is as follows:

Our overarching goal is to elevate the arts and enable creative expression to engage and inspire a dynamic, thriving Massachusetts. We will pursue this goal through three strategies: advancing the field’s capacity to adapt, take risks, and engage changing audiences in new ways; fostering opportunities to connect the arts to other disciplines and sectors; and activating public support for the arts.

They are achieving this through substantial investment of expertise and financial resources in communities throughout the state – and bringing that to Southeastern Massachusetts through the Community Foundation is what John Vasconcellos seized upon when contemplating a plan of action for the arts.

You’re Invited…

That’s not the end of the story, however. It’s just the prologue. The real story starts…with you. In order to figure out how best to mobilize the resources of the Barr Foundation, the Community Foundation is properly concerned with hearing from the community it serves.

The meeting at Groundwork! (1213 Purchase Street; use Maxfield Street entrance) next Tuesday, June 6 from 5:00-7:00pm is the first of several planned to get the input of artists, artisans, arts consumers, businesses, residents…well, everyone concerned in mapping out the future of our region. The meetings are designed to discover what’s necessary to connect all the dots of the disparate arts community and help bind it together.

It’s important to note here that the alignment of the Community Foundation and the Barr Foundation isn’t simply about finding a new pot of money. It’s about formulating a common purpose for the arts that embraces the entire community. That must certainly reflect greater New Bedford’s amazing diversity; everyone has a seat at the table.

So, invite your neighbors, tell your friends and spread the word. And, be prepared to come to that table with what John Vasconcellos terms a “Clarity of Vision” into a future arts and culture community where are all the planets are lined up in a row.

> You can find the entire line-up of meetings from New Bedford to Fall River here.

> Learn more about the Community Foundation here and the Barr Foundation here.

Timothy Ellis Cole: Helping to sustain New Bedford

Timothy Ellis Cole in front of his work-in-progress mural on New Bedford’s State Pier. The completed work debuts on Saturday, June 3, 2017 during the Seaport Art Walk opening.

You’ll have to forgive us here at Groundwork! for taking an inordinate amount of pride in artist Timothy Ellis Cole. It’s because his roots go deep into the place and into who we are. That’s why we always get excited when Tim is up to his tricks somewhere in New Bedford.

Cole has just completed a mural on the State Pier as part of this year’s Seaport Art Walk. Of course, he brought his usual commitment, talent and energy to the project, spending days and maybe even a few nights painting on a concrete wall that runs about a hundred feet long below the terminal. The result is another triumph of vision that you can really appreciate this Saturday, June 3 when the Seaport Art Walk officially opens from 2:00-5:00pm with a special event that is free and open to the public.

We’re excited to see ALL the artists involved in this, the third Seaport Art Walk, once again curated by the fabulous Jessica Bregoli. New this year, the artists will be paired with scholars during the opening on Saturday to discuss the topics that inspired their work.

Tim at Groundwork!

Timothy Ellis Cole has always inspired us – and we’re happy to see the in-demand artist back in New Bedford. Indeed, along with prolific, local outdoor artists like Ryan McFee and Tracy Barbosa, he is helping to establish a New Bedford aesthetic that distinguishes our city.

Tim was the first artist to be featured in the Groundwork! Gallery in January 2016. His opening was a smash event and did a lot to set the tone for future after-co-working-hours art shows here at 1213 Purchase Street. Part of that tone was set when he christened the Groundwork! Hammock, becoming the first person (after co-founders Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden) to pull an all-nighter in the space!

The artist brought that same sense of total commitment to the mural he painted on our own wall (pictured above). It’s become a well-known feature of the space figuring in all sorts of photos and videos on the social media landscape.

Seaport Art Walk’s Sustainable Oceans

The theme of this year’s Seaport Art Walk is Sustainable Oceans, and Tim’s mural certainly illustrates that. He explains that it depicts the work of the Coonamessett Farm Foundation in applying a field rotation concept to scalloping zones “that saved a decimated industry, turning it into a sustainable fishery that became one of the most profitable in the world.” (You can find out more and even watch the documentary, “Sustaining Sea Scallops,” at this link.)

Like Tim’s link to Groundwork!, there is a personal connection to Coonamessett for him, too. “I used to be the chef on the farm that houses the foundation, so it’s really cool to make artwork about their work after grilling scallops at farm dinners years ago,” he says.

Timothy Ellis Cole probably doesn’t get a lot of time to grill scallops these days, except for precious hours with his wife and two awesome kids. His Partner Projects Studios, operating out of Monument Breach, is busy with projects from Hyannis to the Levitate Music Festival to New Bedford’s Seaport Art Walk and lots of places in-between.

We dig that this artist is binding New Bedford into that bundle of projects and, we have no doubt, beyond into the future as his career continues to grow with all the mad-talent and energy he brings to it – and to our city.

(Visit Partner Projects Studio here and learn more about this year’s Seaport Art Walk here.)

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Meet Abby Wright: Photographer behind “Vinegar”

Abby Wright is a Senior Photography student in CVPA at UMass Dartmouth and a fellow pushy women. She is the creator of “Vinegar”, a body of work that speaks her truth about feminism and what she has experienced as a women in today’s society.

“Vinegar” is a part of “Self-Evident Truths”, a collection of works by eight Photo students at UMD, that focuses in on how they view the world and society today.

Self-evident truths

“Self-Evident Truths” will be installed here at Groundwork! on May 4th and we will be celebrating the Opening with a party on May 11th! Find out more about the event here, or on our Facebook! Read more about Abby and “Vinegar” below:

Can you describe “Vinegar” to us?

My current body of work studies what it means to me, being female today in a world where we are both encouraged and discouraged by society and our daily surroundings from adopting feminist ideals. Coming from a suburban background, these concepts were the foundation of the world which was my upbringing.

My goal is to capture this concept through portraiture mostly made within interior spaces. The subject is occasionally obscured or hidden from view. Through these visual elements, I wish to draw attention to the fact that a female is not merely an object of admiration, temperamental, unpredictable, led by emotion, nor primarily concerned with being perceived as decorative.


While some images include full figures, others show merely body fragments. The work contains images where I am not physically in the frame yet they are all self portraits.

The portraits are made within the house my parents built in which my sisters and I have spent our adolescence. This is where we had the opportunity to absorb the information presented to us in the outside world and figure out where we stood, what our own ideals were. To me, growing up, I felt like I was presented with numerous contradictory messages. I was always told to believe in myself. I could be whoever I wanted and I could accomplish anything that I set my mind to. Yet at the same time, I was presented with information such as;

“Swearing isn’t lady like. Don’t walk alone at night. Always lock the car and look in the back seat. Be alert when walking. Don’t be on your phone, pony tails are easy to grab and pull you to the ground. Attackers always look for those who could be caught off guard. Speak when spoken to. Don’t interrupt. Don’t be bossy.”

The list continues. To this day these concepts still make me angry. I can do and be whatever I want to an extent; yet at the same time always looking over my shoulder and being encouraged to be careful and not talk back.

This body of work explores the concept of challenging ideals frequently placed on young females. Though my sisters and I each have personalities which vary drastically, and are all of a similar age, we all stand with our own perspectives, views, and experiences of the need to possess strength and to be heard. The imagery includes strong figures with settings which appear to be seen as barriers between the camera and the individual, often leading to a point of escape within the photograph.


My work stems from my need to express my psychological processing of the contradictory messages imposed upon me as a young woman and my connection to understanding my place in the world.

Can you tell us about your artistic style?

I have definitely been told and teased about the fact that I am a prolific artist. I always feel the need to be making something or turning the things that I see and feel into physical experiences. If I am not producing a lot I feel super unproductive. I think that is what art is to me and that’s why it is so important to me. It is my way of translating things that I am thinking and going through into elements that people can experience and connect to themselves. I also think it is so interesting that what I am presenting can have a totally different meaning or relation to a viewer.

What/ who first got you interested in photography/ art and when?


I feel like I always loved art and making things but my uncle who is a graphic designer always was there to help me grow by encouraging me to continue this process and always offering criticism. As far as photography, I bought the first camera I ever owned – a Nikon d3100 – when I was a freshman in High School when I had saved enough money from scooping ice cream, which was my job at the time. That was my first introduction to the medium.

What is your biggest inspiration?

Nan Goldin is photographically my biggest inspiration. I have always been drawn to her style and think it’s so simplistically beautiful and has so much to say for itself. I am obviously very impressed by many photographers but her diaristic style is so honest, raw, and moving to me. I think this style is so undervalued. I really can’t put into words how much her work moves me. In daily life though I really can say I am visually inspired by most things I see.

Tell us about the process you took creating “Vinegar”?

The body of work started with all self portraits but as I was creating work I wanted to incorporate people other than myself, I was just unsure of the way in which I wanted to do so. I started to photograph my sister as well. I then became very interested in the fact that I have three sisters, we are all around the same age and that we are all complete opposites of each other. Even though this is true we have very similar ideals and always stand for what we believe in. The body of work began to evolve into portraits of the four of us which became interesting because at times we do look very similar, so it became harder for the viewer to know which one of us was being depicted.


Have you ever hit a creative roadblock? How did you deal with this?

HELL YES. Especially when working on Vinegar. When I first started this project I had an idea and concept which I wanted to portray but wasn’t sure exactly how I wanted to make the body of work speak. At the start of the project I was making all self portraits and struggling to make connections to each other. I was so overwhelmed and trying too hard to make art which is never good, instead of my regular style which is to just show what I am seeing and experiencing. I think the best way to do deal with not knowing where to go and feeling really overwhelmed and lost is to just keep producing and talking about what you’re producing.

What is your favorite part about being a photographer/ artist?

My favorite part of being an artist and photographer is the fact that to myself I am never satisfied. There is always something I want to show and explain and there are always ways for me to grow and become a stronger artist and human and see things in a new light. I also love the fact that art is an exploration into the artist as well as the world. I love that it has the power to challenge and engage society. Art has to deal with ethics and at many times is anthropological. It starts a conversation about things we can view as problematic.


Do you have a favorite photo in “Vinegar”? Can you tell us why?

Hmmmm. That’s a hard one. I really love the relationships which the pictures have with each other, especially in the book which I produced with the full body of work in it. I think am more attached to the relationships and how the pictures play off of each other.

What is next for you and/or your photography career?

This summer I am going to be living and working on Block Island, RI. I am really excited to be producing new and fresh work there.

How have you changed or evolved as a photographer from Freshman year to Senior year in CVPA at UMD?

Technically, I have evolved to a large degree. Emotionally in my work I think I have found a certain style that can be identified.




GW artist MarkP

Meet Mark Phelan: Artist behind “Mental Mapping”

GW artist MarkP

Can you describe “Mental Mapping (is heavy lifting)” to us?

Mental Mapping is a group of paintings and drawings that I have been working on since I finished grad school last year, with a couple that I made at the tail end of grad school too, where the idea germinated and began to take root.

I’ve been preoccupied with what my next move is (what life looks like after school, what opportunities might present themselves, or be available to chase down and capture. Will I teach, or find a way for my art to sustain me, or will I always be fighting to find the time to paint around a 9-5 job?), and it’s showing through in my recent work. I’ve been thinking a lot about how one plans for a future, as much that is even possible, and how that might look if you got a view into my head.

Mental Mapping

I’ve been looking a lot at train tracks while I ride the commuter rail into Boston every day, and wondering about where each train is headed as it passes in the opposite direction, or diverges from the path that I thought it was taking as I watched it chug along. Even within a concrete system like a railroad, elements can do something you didn’t expect and throw you for a loop. So when one is confronted with an unwritten, uncertain future, how does one plan, or even just consider, all the options  and then map them out to get a birds’ eye view of the possibilities? It’s overwhelming.

So, the work began as a mostly figurative exploration of the idea, and as it got more and more difficult for me to contemplate the parallel and competing realities, the work started to take a turn out of the representational and into something more abstract. This might leave the impression that one work has little to do with another, until you consider the totality of it, and then I think it begins to make sense. The pieces all gel in a tangential sort of way. I think the viewer has to also allow me the luxury of making the excuse that the idea is still in its infancy, and each of the tangents has a lot of possibility and ground to explore. So let’s call it a collection of beginnings.

Can you tell us about your artistic style?

I cringe when I hear the word ‘style’ in relation to my work. It’s the last thing I am concerned about. If the work comes from my head, and is a product of my process and my consideration, it will look like it was made by me. That’s the only way it can look. So, I don’t concern myself with style, or whether my newest work looks enough like previous work, or whatever someone who thinks about those things is concerned with.

GW artist MarkP1

Now, with that said, I do have habits that lead to my work having a common thread. I usually work pretty large. I’ve mostly been working on 6×9 and 9×12 foot canvases. This frees me up to play around with my ideas and have room to roam and build a story. The idea often ends up bigger than the canvas though, and so you’ll often see me add pieces around the margins of the original canvas.

I also tend to draw a lot, even in my paintings. Line just makes sense to me as a way of describing the way objects interact with each other or with the space around them. And lastly, I guess I have a set of colors that I return to a lot. Earthy blues and greens and browns show up repeatedly.

What/ who first got you interested in art and when?

I’ve always drawn. It’s how I think. But I guess I first realized that art could be a legitimate way to get myself through life in high school. And I have to credit Carole Meyer for that. She was my art teacher at West Bridgewater High School, and plowed paths for me to spend lots of time in the art studios in my junior and senior year. Without her confidence in my passion for art, I don’t know that I would have developed such a strong sense of it on my own. She was a rock star teacher for sure, and is definitely one who I look to when I work on becoming my best self as a teacher too.

What is your biggest inspiration?

GW artist MarkP3

Possibility. In a word I think that’s what inspires me the most. Each time I start something new, the possibilities are limitless. And I revel in swimming in limitlessness for a while, as a try to find something to hang onto and take me someplace new. Ultimately, only one or two things happen within the confines of a painting, but before I latched onto those things, anything can happen. And each time I latch onto an idea and it guides me through a painting and out the other side, a totally new set of infinite possibilities is available to me.

How do you plan the process of creating a collection of works like this one?

I don’t. Well, I don’t plan it initially. I have a loose idea that I want to explore, like maps, or imagined space, or a particular person, and I prep a canvas or a panel and I get to work on it. I usually have images of objects related to the idea pinned to a board, and I look at those for shapes and colors and lines, and I think about those as I put a ground on the canvas. If I end up getting into a painting to the extent that I actually know what is going to happen next, I begin thinking about the next layer of information and ways to integrate it with what I am putting down in the moment.

My decisions are born of process. I decide by doing. Planning in advance beyond the loosest concept never works out for me. Each of my paintings feels like a new path to me. And you can’t really plan a new path. You have to get in the jungle with your machete and just hack away at it.

What do you think about while you’re painting?

GW artist MarkP2

I think about painting. That is, I think about line and space, and the development of the image or idea. I talk to myself a lot. I talk to the painting a lot. I listen to a lot of music. You’ll find a lot of lyrics to songs I listen to buried in the layers of my paintings. Sometimes the paintings are named after the lyrics of a song I listened to while I made it. Or it references them somehow. I think about how I am never more happy than I am when I’m making things. It’s why I exist. So even if I’m dealing with difficult subject matter, there’s no work I would rather be doing.

Have you ever hit a creative roadblock? How did you deal with this?

Because I tend to swim in limitless possibility, I don’t really ever have a shortage of ideas. Sometimes I don’t know exactly how to express the idea that I have, but that is exactly the most important moment to simply get to work. Go to the studio, move some paint around, and see what happens.

I leave myself open to my initial idea leading to something else altogether, and I am always willing to follow where the work leads. This keeps me free to pick up on any good idea and just go with it. I also typically work on 5 or 6 paintings at once, so if I hit a roadblock with one, or get bored with it, I can move on to another. As I do this, I find one painting informs the next, and that informs the next, and so on. By keeping the dam open, ideas keep flowing.

What is your favorite part about being an artist?

GW artist MarkP6

I touched on this a bit in the question about what I think about while I paint, but my favorite thing about being an artist is that I can’t imagine being anything else. Now, for me, being an artist isn’t just being a painter. I’m also a printmaker, I’ve messed around with sculpture some too (one of my pieces lives downtown at the corner of Route 18 and Union St, in front of Cork Wine Bar) and I build hot rods. When I am at my best, I am making.

Do you have a favorite piece in Mental Mapping? Can you tell us why?

I think the idea behind Mental Mapping is my favorite part about this body of work. I don’t mean that in a conceptual way, I just mean that it can be very freeing to allow oneself to imagine the possibility of anything, and search for a way to explain a little of what it’s like to live in that kind of head space, and find a few pictures to begin telling that story. Some work better than others in accomplishing that goal (and I’ll let the viewer decide which those are).

Are you currently working on any other projects?

I’ve been noodling out this series of “portraits” that I want to start on. I put portraits in quotes because not all the paintings will have people as subjects. But it’s an idea that is related to Mental Mapping, and will connect to a lot of the work in that series that has sort of laid the ground for what’s coming. I am also working on more images that will probably end up being considered as the same body of work as Mental Mapping, as that idea just keeps pushing me along. I’m building a couple cars currently too, a 1934 Ford Coupe, and a 1939 Cadillac Lasalle Coupe.

GW artist MarkP5

Do you have any words of wisdom for aspiring artists?

The artist Chuck Close said:

“The advice I like to give young artists, or really anybody who’ll listen to me, is not to wait around for inspiration. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait around for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you are not going to make an awful lot of work. All the best ideas come out of the process; they come out of the work itself. Things occur to you. If you’re sitting around trying to dream up a great art idea, you can sit there a long time before anything happens. But if you just get to work, something will occur to you and something else will occur to you and something else that you reject will push you in another direction. Inspiration is absolutely unnecessary and somehow deceptive. You feel like you need this great idea before you can get down to work, and I find that’s almost never the case.”

This is great advice. Just show up to the studio and get to work. Move some material around and see what happens. If you’re not satisfied with it, wipe it out and start over. Don’t be afraid to erase. Erasing is not admitting failure. Thomas Edison said something about that too. “I haven’t failed over and over, I’ve just found 2000 ways not to make a light bulb.” Or something like that. There’s no pressure in failure. You just learn from it and move on. There’s also no better, safer place to fail than art school. You’re so protected there. The professors will reel you back in if you need to be. Take advantage of the protected environment and take all kinds of chances. You’ll learn a lot.

GW artist MarkP4

Where can we find and follow you and your work?

You can see my work at www.markphelanart.com and you can follow me on Instagram @generalgow. I post way more stuff on IG than I make updates to my website, and you’ll get to see a lot of process pics, and non painting projects there too.

The Write Moves in New Bedford


“I was chatting with Alison Wells about putting a poetry event on in April and I had an idea of maybe trying to get one going on the Saturday evening of the bookfest. I was thinking we could try to make it a featured … after-event type thing…”  Nick LeBlanc e-mailed me this week. And, because of that and so many other elements of the New Bedford Bookfest coming together, we here at Groundwork! were doing high-fives this week.

Because that’s just the kind of creative collaboration we love – and the way this spring’s New Bedford Bookfest is coming together is exactly what we envisioned when myself, Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden founded the bookfest last year at Groundwork!

New Bedford Bookfest

New Bedford Bookfest is a showcase for the writing talent that resides in our region. It’s also designed to burnish New Bedford’s identity as a regional hub. And the agenda for the April 2017 bookfest reflects both of those ideas.

On Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23, writers and readers from throughout the area will make Groundwork! and the City of New Bedford their home for the weekend. It’s a two-day celebration of what makes this area unique in the nation.

New Bedford Bookfest has grown in ambition and deepened its appeal this year, we believe. There will of course be dozens of authors in attendance – some returning, many new – offering their books for sale.

Cinematic Treasures

But we’ve also broadened our reach and scheduled some eclectic special events during the bookfest which propels it into the future. Like the appearance of photographer and writer Matt Lambros – who has traveled the nation documenting America’s former movie palaces like our own abandoned Orpheum Theater for his book, After the Final Curtain. Matt will discuss his observations of these historic buildings during a presentation on Saturday, April 22 at 1:30pm.

The Rise and Fall of the American Movie Theater is book-ended by two great events courtesy of New Bedford’s own Spinner Publications. At 11:30am on Saturday, Spinner’s Joe Thomas will present a slide-show culled from their photographs in their archives featuring New Bedford’s own historic theaters and entertainment venues.

Blue Collars & Autopsies

At 3:15pm, Spinner Publications’ newest author, Catherine McLaughlin will read from her novel, Blue Collars – a rumination on growing up in a New Bedford dominated by mills and textiles.

And on Sunday, we’re pleased to spotlight two authors poised to take the national stage. From Colorado, Courtney E. Morgan will travel to New Bedford to read from her The Seven Autopsies of Nora Hanneman, which is a provocative look at female sexuality.

Ruthless River with Lauren Daley

Finally, BookLovers columnist Lauren Daley of The Standard-Times newspaper has personally selected debut author Holly FitzGerald for a special Question and Answer talk to begin at 1:30pm. FitzGerald’s Ruthless River: Love and Survival by Raft on the Amazon’s Relentless Madre de Dios is garnering stunning advance reviews ahead of its May, 2017 publication date.

Michael Palin, author of Traveling to Work, writes of Ruthless River: One of the great survival tales. An almost unbearable story told with a physical and emotional intensity that draws the reader in, not just as witness, but as virtual participant. It’s an exhausting, painful, inspiring read.”

I plan to be as relentless as the Madre de Dios promoting the New Bedford Bookfest. Because the talented writers involved deserve it – and because our city demands it. In this and so many other areas of achievement, we here at Groundwork! see a city hitting hyper-drive.

Proof of the power being unleashed in New Bedford can be found in the creative collaborations springing to life like the one that opened this blog post. You can help; share this with the BookLovers among your friends and followers on Facebook and elsewhere. Yeah – we’re interested building on success and embracing as many people as possible. Because it’s not about us – it’s about All of Us together.

  • Follow New Bedford Bookfest news and read author bios at nbbookfest.com and Facebook/NewBedfordNow. The New Bedford Bookfest takes place at Groundwork!, 1213 Purchase Street, on Sat. April, 22 and Sunday, April 23. It is free and open to the public from 11:00am to 4:00pm each day. Special appearances by Matt Lambros and Lauren Daley are ticketed and you can purchase them by clicking on their names. The NB Bookfest after-event at Alison Wells Fine Art Studio (106 William Street) begins at 6:00pm.
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Social Media: A college student’s perspective

Thank goodness social media, and the way we use it, has been evolving as quickly as we do. Looking back at my old posts, that Facebook and Timehop love to remind me about, I can’t help but get red in the face and ask myself, ‘what the hell was I thinking?’ When Facebook was relatively new, status updates were step-by-step rundowns of a person’s day – “Jenny is…chewing bubble gum and walking to the corner store”.

When did people start thinking that the world cared or needed to know what they were doing every minute of every day? Social media grew like wild fire, so people must have cared – no idea why. Maybe we’re lazy? Maybe we’re creeps? Maybe we just like to stay in touch? Whatever the reason, social media is a way of life for us now. If you’re not on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, LinkedIn or some other platform, do you really exist?

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Do you really exist?

Millennials manage social media

I am a millennial. We are on almost every form of social media and they are definitely not all the same. They each have certain features and options that allow them to serve different purposes. There are some that I like and some that I never use.

Facebook: The one-stop-shop of social media

I use Facebook as a form of entertainment and surprisingly education. Not only do I enjoy watching hilarious animal videos or BuzzFeed’s blog videos, but I also read articles that my friends share, hear about what’s going on in my community, and try to spread messages that I feel are important. It’s like an interactive, multi-faceted, unbiased news network. *This may depend on who your friends are*.

Groundwork facebook screenshot

I’m not going to lie, I am one of those people that plays Facebook games. They are convenient ways for me to waste time, especially when my news feed is quiet and I’ve already scrolled through everything. Facebook is really like the one-stop-shop of social media. It has everything and knows everything… the ads on my timeline are too creepy. How does it know that I have been looking for this one pair of shoes for weeks?! Creepy but effective.

So why use other platforms if Facebook has it all? That question is exactly why I use those other apps and websites. Facebook is a trap. Have you ever gone to Target to buy one thing and leave two hours later having spent $300? Well, that’s how Facebook works, open the app to check the one notification you got and BOOM, you look up and it’s been an hour. How?!

The visual you – Instagram

I like to view Instagram as my life’s portfolio. You can tell a lot about a person by their Instagram profile. Not only do you get to see a pattern of topics they photograph, but there are also color schemes visible in the ‘all pictures’ overview.

Instagram side-by-side

Instagram overviews:  Lisa(left),  Dena(center),  and Sarah(right)

My Instagram is mostly nature, animals, friends, and the occasional selfie – when I’m not looking like my usual ragamuffin self. The colors I see are very neutral, a lot of brown, blue, green, and the occasional pop of red. Comparing my account to my friends’, I see huge differences. One of my roommates has a lot of pink in her pictures – which fits her perfectly. Another one of my friends only posts pictures with his “squad”. Literally every picture is him and his friends. Someone else only posts selfies.

If a picture can speak a thousand words than your Instagram account is basically your autobiography.

Evolution of Interaction

Flowing with the trends, we no longer post hourly FB statuses depicting our every move. We now share videos, pictures and only make status updates when we have something big going on or an important message we hope to spread. So now how do we find out what all of our friends, family, and distant acquaintances are doing? Snapchat. A quick 10 second video or 3 second picture tells us all we want to know about what’s going on in that other person’s world.

The obvious argument is that we no longer actually communicate with one another. We live life and have relationships through our phone screen. Yes, this can be a downfall in our American Society today, but how do the people that actually use Snapchat feel about its effects on social interaction?

Snapchat: Social or anti-social media?

Being one of the newer forms of social media, Snapchat is most often used by younger generations. We use it because everyone we know uses it. It’s a huge network of our closest contacts. Now what do we use it for? How does it benefit us and actually boost our social interaction rather than sucking us into the screen? We usually only spend 10 seconds on it at a time. Videos are limited to that time frame. Pictures are, on average, visible for 6 seconds. The app actually makes you go back to the real world.

I like to watch friend’s “stories”- public videos or photos that remain up for 24 hours – to see what they’re up to. If I see a friend doing something close by, I message them and join them. Pet updates are the best! I can always rely on a quick picture or video of a friend’s pet to boost my mood. When I see all of my friends out having fun and I am inside bored, it motivates me to get active and go spend my time productively – the opposite effect that other social media sites often have.

Snap Image3

Snapchat: the new Candid Camera

What’s so special about Snapchat?

Comparing my use of Snapchat to other social media platforms, I would say that I spend the most time on Facebook, then Instagram, and the least time on Snapchat. While this is true, I am the most active on Snap. I post more pictures and videos on Snapchat than I do on Insta or FB. Why? Because it’s quicker, easier, customizable and it doesn’t feel like such a commitment. I can share something with friends in 2 seconds and I don’t have to worry about it being perfect because it’s not technically ‘the internet’. Once it’s uploaded it won’t be there forever.

snap image2

I think this gives us the opportunity to be more real. It’s almost like a platform for candids. Real time, untouched, real people. That’s what I appreciate the most about it. We all want to see those goofy authentic smiles, dumb jokes, and genuine moments in a friend’s life rather than that posed for picture we often see.
I guess the big picture really is that we all get something different out of the social media platforms we use. How you use it and what you get out of it, is completely up to you…and your followers.

Logging off.



From New Bedford to Philadelphia


It’s been over seven months since I began blogging for Groundwork! here on the newbedfordcoworking.com website – and I am loving it!

Before I returned to New Bedford, I was a newspaper reporter and editor for many years elsewhere. Thankfully, I always worked at worthwhile news outlets and enjoyed wide latitude as to the types of stories I wrote or assigned.

So, writing for a blog is natural continuation of that pleasure – without the pressure of an ink deadline!

If anything, writing for Groundwork! about all things New Bedford affords me even greater liberty with my words. And I am going to enjoy that freedom right now as I write about my colleague, Groundwork! co-founder, Dena Haden.

The City of Sisterly Love

Dena doesn’t know I am writing this – which is half the fun of putting it before the public! The other half is letting everyone know that Dena Haden The Artist is about to be featured in a new exhibit at AUTOMAT Collective in Philadelphia, PA this weekend.

As former Vice-President Joe Biden would say, this is a BFD.

Dena is an amazing artist and I loved reading her official bio info on the exhibit invite: Dena Haden is a visual artist that lives and works out of her studio in Berkley, Massachusetts.  She was born and raised in Cape Cod, MA and earned her BFA in Painting from UMass Dartmouth in 2004 and her MFA from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in 2008. Dena has instructed painting and design courses for several years at nonprofit organizations and private institutions. She is the co-founder of Groundwork! Creative Space in New Bedford, MA and is the director of the Boston Critique Group, an artist collaborative in the Greater Boston area.  Her artwork has been included in exhibitions nationally and internationally and is part of numerous private collections and public installations.” (SEE HER WEBSITE HERE.)

The show at AUTOMAT is another great entry in that biography – and not only for Dena, but for the entire artistic community in New Bedford.


A Tenuous Equilibrium at the Automat

The AUTOMAT Collective is an amazing gallery in one of the nation’s art epicenters. Dena representing our creative city in this context is a win-win for both.

The show is called “A Tenuous Equilibrium” and, well, here’s the gallery statement:  (It) highlights two artists whose work mediates fleeting and transitory encounters with the landscape with keen awareness of their own intimate footprint of being. Dena Haden and Samantha Mitchell present sculptures, paintings and drawings acutely tuned toward finding balances between productive and destructive qualities of nature. Their experiences and perceptions are visually negotiated with shifting qualities of vast lands, passing time, and phenomenal energies. Through process and material they reveal records of organic rhythms, chronicle growth and decay, preserve private histories of place, and cultivate reverence for the sublime.” (Curated by Emily Elliott & Jillian Schley.)

Kombucha or bust

Though I’ve known Dena for some time now, I was really introduced to her beautiful work last summer when we both participated in and helped organize “Maps & Legends” at New Bedford’s Haskell Park. It’s one thing to catch fleeting glimpses of works-in-progress or photos on Instagram of an artist’s creations. It’s another to come face-to-face with them and realize the person standing next to you is responsible for so much grace and beauty. I was astounded by the work she had created for “Maps & Legends.” 

The opening reception for “A Tenuous Equilibrium” is Friday, March 3 from 6 – 10:00pm. Automat is located 319 N. 11th Street (2i), Philadelphia, PA. On Saturday, March 4, Dena will hold an artist’s talk at the collective.

Dena employs kombucha, an organic, sustainable material, in much of her work. It was entirely new to me and a revelation to learn about from her. She’ll talk about that as well as collecting other material for her work and the blending of her studio and life practices on Saturday, March 4. Naturally, her involvement in co-founding Groundwork! and The Boston Crit Group will also be discussed.

You can be sure a few Groundwork! members will be in attendance – and you’re invited, too! Event details here.

Taking New Bedford Bookfest into 2017


One of the most gratifying experiences (among many) I’ve had here at Groundwork! is co-founding the New Bedford Bookfest with Sarah Athanas and Dena Haden. When we launched the first bookfest last year, we really didn’t know what to expect. Fortunately, what resulted was the birth of a new tradition in the city due to its overwhelming success.

The pleasure that authors and patrons took in the bookfest was motivational. As we prepare for 2017, we’re excited to announce that the Spring and Fall New Bedford Bookfests will be evolving and growing to keep up with demand.

The Spring & Fall New Bedford Bookfests

On Saturday, April 22 and Sunday, April 23rd, the Spring bookfest will take place here at Groundwork! from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. both days.

On Saturday, October 28 and Sunday, October 29, the Fall bookfest will take place, also at Groundwork!, and this year it will be dedicated exclusively to Childrens and YA books and the illustrators who create both.

Authors, publishers and book sellers interested in tabling at one or both bookfest should email us NewBedfordNow@gmail.com.

Once again, both bookfests are free and open to the public. But, in order to deepen the bookfest experience, we’ve added some special ticketed events during it over the two days this April and in in October. And we’re excited to announce the first of these here.

The Rise & Fall of the American Movie Theater

Brooklyn photographer and author Matt Lambros has scoured the nation in search of abandoned cinematic treasures such as Loew’s Kings Theater, the Everett Theatre in Boston and yes, New Bedford’s own Orpheum Theatre. His stunning pictures and text have been collected in a volume entitled “After the Final Curtain: The Rise and Fall of the American Movie Theatre.”  Another publication, “King’s Theatre: The Rise, Fall and Rebirth of Brooklyn’s Wonder Theatre” is devoted to chronicling its amazing restoration.

Lambros will discuss these movie palaces and share his insights into their restoration during a special discussion followed by a Q & A and book signing beginning at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 22 during the New Bedford Bookfest. Tickets to the talk alone are $10, and a ticket which includes the talk as well as Matt’s beautiful book are $50. You can RSVP and purchase both at this link.

Follow us  into 2017

We’re proud and happy to shepherd the New Bedford Bookfest forward after a dramatic opening year. Between now and April 22, we’ll be sharing additional features of the bookfest here and on its own dedicated website, www.nbbookfest.com. You can get notifications through Groundwork’s Facebook page and also via Facebook/NewBedfordNow, dedicated to creating eclectic events in our city.

Of course, what we’ll be most pleased with is hosting dozens of local and regional authors at the bookfest. Expect to meet them and their work over the course of the next two months…so that when you attend the bookfest and get to meet them in person, you’ll enjoy that same feeling you experience when you open the pages of your favorite book…

You’ll be greeting a friend.