Steven_Haskell_Park

Maps and Legends at Haskell Gardens: A Conversation with Steven Froias

Haskell Gardens

Haskell Gardens is a haven of exotic trees and plants.

Haskell Gardens, a New Bedford hidden gem, will serve as the backdrop for work from local artists starting this Friday. The show is called “Maps & Legends Two: If by sea…” and is curated by our very own  Steven Froias. If you haven’t been to Haskell Gardens yet, it’s a peaceful six-acre oasis located off of Shawmut Ave. Founded over thirty years ago by horticultural legend and New Bedford resident Allen C. Haskell, the garden holds a unique space in New Bedford’s history, making it the perfect spot for a show called “Maps and Legends.”

We know Steven Froias best as our “Groundworker at Large.” True to his moniker, Steven is a man about town and he’s behind many great initiatives in our city. He created the New Bedford Bookfest, a bi-annual festival featuring local authors and publishers, and he did the logo design for Love the Ave, a movement to promote Acushnet Ave as an international marketplace. Steven is also an artist himself, and his vintage stenciled signs recall a sense of the past with a contemporary, playful twist.

Froias has a keen eye for all the little and unexpected things that make neighborhoods and cities great: from New Bedford’s hardware stores to its corner shops, from rising stars Tim Cole and Jeremiah Hernandez, to noticeable improvements in New Bedford’s architecture and street scene. Froias has elevated the Groundwork! blog to become a chronicle of New Bedford’s past, present, and future, celebrating the quirks, accomplishments, and successes of our city in real time, as the story unfolds.

So it makes sense that Froias’s own description of “Maps and Legends Two: If by sea” reads:

Maps & Legends refers both to the history of New Bedford and its sense of itself in the larger world. Viewers are invited to embark on a voyage of discovery that includes the artwork, the stories and this very special place, Haskell Public Gardens, a Trustees of Reservations property.

I asked Steven to answer a few questions about the upcoming show, his practice as an artist/writer/curator, and what makes him so curious about New Bedford. But before you dive into the questions, take note: Maps and Legends Two: If by sea opens on Friday, July 14th from 5-8PM. At 6PM, New Bedford residents will share their own legends as part of a storytelling hour emceed by Groundwork! member Shelley Cardoos.

Steven_Haskell_Park

Curator Steven Froias on the loose at Haskell.

What inspired you to curate shows at Haskell Gardens?

Well, first of all, it’s a beautiful space. Every cliche you can think of – enchanted garden, hidden gem, urban oasis – applies to Haskell Public Gardens. And, it’s in my neighborhood! Which leads me to another reason to get involved there…it was at a neighborhood Ward 3 meeting that I met the garden’s on-site horticulturist, Kristin McCullin. She came to a freezing winter meeting to introduce the park to people living around it and let them know it would be opening later that year in the fall.

Like you, Sarah, and your partner in co-working crime, Dena Haden, and so many of our friends and co-workers, it seemed here was another person offering New Bedford focus, energy and talent. As we’ve all experienced at Groundwork!, that sense of purpose and commitment from the people around you inspires you! Kristin encouraged area residents to get involved in the park, and I was thrilled to let the gears start turning in my mind as to what I could bring to this very special place.

In your words, the theme “Maps and Legends” refers to New Bedford’s own history and its sense of itself in the larger world. This theme resonates in the topics you write for the Groundwork blog, and also with your own artwork. What drives this curiosity for you as a writer, curator, and artist?

Hmm, I think it all comes back to Sherlock Holmes. I’ve been a fan of the great detective since I was a kid and like to think I bring that same sense of searching for answers to everything I do – whether it’s art or writing or organizing events. I like to dig deep to solve the case and bring to light what’s underneath. With the art, it’s providing a connection to the back-story. With the writing – especially with the posts I’m fortunate enough to get to write for the Groundwork! blog – it’s all about the here and now – and the future. Any city – but New Bedford in particular – is a puzzle of many pieces that constantly needs to be sorted through to solve. It’s an adventure!

Can you talk about the artists who will feature in this year’s show, and why you chose them to show work?

They’re amazing! Kelly Zélen and Zachary M. White are the stars of this show. I believe in seizing serendipity when it rears its head. After first discovering Kelly’s work for myself at Kilburn Mills Studios, and then asking her to appear in last year’s Maps & Legends, I kept hearing people say how impressed they were with her sculpture. Jeremiah Hernandez – who as we know is curating a huge show this week at Groundwork! – spoke about his respect for her work. I have great respect respect for his opinion, so was confident I was on the right track asking her to be one of the two featured artists for this year’s Maps & Legends.

As for Zachary M. White – here’s some more serendipity. As so often happens, though I had met Zach before, I only recently discovered that he’s a maps aficionado and artist. Naturally, I found this out at Groundwork!, which is why I call the place the Center of Gravity in New Bedford.

Zach had brought some of his prints to show TDI fellow Jim McKeag and Dena, and luckily I was there. When you mount a show called Maps & Legends, what more could you ask for than a prolific, talented young artists producing stylized…maps!

This year you are adding an element of live storytelling to the opening exhibition. What kinds of stories can we expect?

Well, as you noted above, I get to tell lots of stories on the Groundwork! blog. I do this by looking and listening everywhere throughout the city – the game’s always afoot and I’m always on the case! I thought it would be nice to let people hear it from the source – directly from some of the people who have caught my eyes and ears and provided me with material.

It’s also inspired by the Community Conversations Jacob Miller organized for AHA! New Bedford this past winter – and I’m happy to say Jacob has helped recruit some people to come to the opening and share their stories – their New Bedford Legends – with us all under the skies. Again, Jacob is one of those people who are passionate about doing new things in the city, and I’m always down with collaborating with someone like that.

What do you love most about living in New Bedford?

The fact that the story never ends. Too many people try to pigeonhole the city – and sometimes in very negative ways – but it constantly fights back. It’s a scrappy place and hold its own. It’s still evolving and actually writes its own story. You can try to place it into a context or wrap a narrative around it, but really, it’s a perpetual mystery that challenges you to always reevaluate the evidence and….start again. Catnip for a writer!

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Dan Calabrese

Member Spotlight: Daniel Calabrese

Dan Calabrese

Dan Calabrese wins the prize for most “visually exciting” entrepreneur at Groundwork! If you get to work on a day he’s looking at shoe samples, you can check out some new styles and maybe even try them on for feedback. Dan also merits recognition for member growth– he just added a new employee to the Groundwork! crew.

Dan often travels to India for his work and is willing to share his travel stories if you find him in the kitchen around lunchtime. In this interview, he shares how he stays informed about the latest shoe styles, favorite podcasts, and that gratifying feeling of seeing your footwear in a store.

What’s your profession?

Short Answer: Footwear Development.
Reality: I’ve opened the US office for an Indian manufacturing group that produces footwear, leathers, and outsoles. We represent and are building Sara’s presence in the US. We design, create, and produce shoes for some of the best retailers and global brands.

Describe a typical work day for you.

There is no “typical” work day when working with footwear and India but it usually involves ensuring we are keeping  to our timelines and most importantly getting more production orders.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Keeping the communication going with the factories and customers.

Do you have a morning routine?

1. Coffee.
2. Seeing my girls off to school every morning I’m home.
3. Skype with India
4. Gym or run.
5. Groundwork!

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Not really a hack but I spend a lot of time on Hypebeast and Highsnobiety trying to stay informed. We are working seasons out, some customers are into Autumn/ Winter 2018 development, and staying relevant and in style takes a lot of research.

What do you listen to during the day?

Depends on the day but usually a lot of CNN and when that has depressed me enough I’ll listen to everything from Hamilton’s Original Broadway Cast Recordings to Sirius XM Old School Rap. I’ve been really getting into NPR’s How I Built This podcast too.

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

We are a small team of two and it’s good to have others to interact with. Every time we get shoes in we get other’s opinions and feedback. We sometimes get too close to the product and lose sight.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

Again, Hypebeast. Keynote.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

Probably the travel. My career has taken me to a lot of interesting and unique places.

What inspires you?

Watching the business grow and adding people to the team.

Of course seeing your product in stores and on people’s feet is extremely fulfilling since you know they chose to spend their hard earned money on your ideas and work.

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Jordan Pouliot

Member Spotlight: Jordan Pouliot

Jordan Pouliot

Jordan won our hearts when she told us her dissertation was about women restaurant owners. Women, business, and food– what’s not to like about that?

Aside from her dissertation topic we appreciate Jordan for bringing her friendly yet focused energy to our space. She has also reconnected us with our friends at The Women’s Fund by hosting their meetings here from time to time. Here Jordan shares how she stays productive and on task with a daunting project like a dissertation:

What’s your profession?

I am a PhD candidate in Boston University’s American Studies Program, and currently writing my dissertation on the history of women’s restaurant entrepreneurship in NYC. I also teach part-time in UMass Dartmouth’s First Year English Program, and volunteer for the Women’s Fund.

Describe a typical work day for you.

Three days a week I write my dissertation at Groundwork. The other two days I teach one class in the morning at UMD and then come over to Groundwork to keep working on my dissertation.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Completing my dissertation on schedule.

Do you have a morning routine?

Jordan Pouliot family

Let out my two basset mixes, Lucy and Butters; have breakfast with my husband and toddler, Archie; get Archie ready for “school” (daycare), drop him off, and then either drive to Groundwork, UMass, or BU.

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Coffee! Working at Groundwork helps a lot too.

What do you listen to during the day?

The chatter in the office or at a coffee shop.

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

Unfortunately, I’m not that productive when I work at home. There are too many distractions, from watching Netflix to doing the laundry. Groundwork helps keep me focused, and I also work through lunch, which is a big help.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

The Amazon Prime app.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

I came to write about restaurants and the food industry through my interest in women’s entrepreneurship, but I’ve actually never worked at a restaurant. My husband owns one though (the Sail Loft in Padanaram) so he’s been a huge help in explaining the intricacies of business ownership.

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Mark Collins & dolphin

Member Spotlight: Mark Collins

Mark Collins & dolphin

We first crossed paths with Mark Collins at the Providence Entrepreneurs Meetup and at the South Coast WordPress Meetup here at Groundwork! It wasn’t until after Mark joined the Groundwork team in March of 2016 that we discovered he was an under-cover yogi with a meditation practice and affinity for Hindu Philosophy.

I’ve personally enjoyed some pre-work silent meditation sessions with Mark right here at Groundwork!, as well as some great conversations around friendship, work, and life. Here Mark shares a little about his SEO company, his daily routines, and how he stays grounded:

What’s your profession?

Search Engine Optimization for Local and Regional Businesses and Organizations. (www.OnWebLocal.com)

Describe a typical work day for you.

Coffee and returning emails. A few hours intensely focused work. A walk to a park or a beach at lunch. A few more hours work. Late afternoon visit to a cafe – more coffee and returned emails. A nice dinner with girlfriend, family or friend. 1 to 3 hours of late night work.

What’s the biggest challenge you face at your job?

Time management and time management and time management, in that order, LOL

Do you have a morning routine?

Morning meditation. A short time outside to walk and/or exercise.

What are your favorite productivity tips or hacks?

Google Docs (G Suite), to keep all my projects organized.

What do you listen to during the day?

Being a fan of Yoga and meditation, I find listening to Indie (American Kirtan) style music comforting. I also like binaural beats for brainwave entrainment. Being over 55, I sometimes mix in some 70’s and 80’s rock music to wake up!

How do you benefit from using a coworking space?

It helps me to stay focused, to have other folks nearby who are also working hard to achieve their goals.

What’s in your digital toolbox? (Favorite apps, hardware, etc.)

Software: Google Docs, Sheets & Slides, Animoto.com, Youtube editor and Adobe Photoshop.

What is the most surprising or unusual aspect of your life?

Mark Collins book

I am a published author and columnist on the topics of: meditative yoga and Hinduism, unity consciousness and metaphysical philosophy.

What inspires you?

Working with others to improve the environment and our society. The world needs more peace, love and understanding.

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Member Spotlight: Glenn Daluz

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