Behind the Counter: Hippo is where unique meets hip meets art

Open Studios on Hatch Street draw big crowd

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Hatch Street Studios held its winter Open Studios over the weekend, and it was the most well-attended one they’ve ever had, artists said.

New Bedford has been ranked the 7th most artistic city in America by Atlantic Monthly and artists said they think their art might be reaching wider audiences.

“We’ve seen a lot of new people this year,” said Pat Kellogg, who shares a studio space with her husband, Michael Hecht.

Hecht, who does drawing, paintings and prints said a customer from Boston visited the event on Saturday who had previously bought one of his pieces at a gallery in Provincetown. Hecht said he knew someone had bought the piece, but didn’t know who purchased it until Saturday.

“With any luck, word spreads from year to year and we keep expanding our audience,” Hecht said. He said they’ve been in the building since 2003.

“We’ve sold a print, a painting. I’ve sold some jewelry and some t-shirts,” Kellogg said. The t-shirts were made by Kellogg’s son who has a t-shirt company in Brooklyn, she said. He’s in grad school and couldn’t be at the event, Kellogg said.

In a studio next door, Michael Pietragalla said he’s been in the building for 16 years and “this is by far the largest audience that I’ve seen come through this building since I’ve been here.” He said he noticed the parking lot on Saturday was so full that some cars were blocked in and others had to park on the street. He said the event has been going on for the past 10 years.

He specializes in custom wooden furniture and wooden utensils. “I’ve been selling these things like crazy,” he said, pointing to the utensils such as cheese knives, spatulas, scoops and spreaders. He said they’re made from recyclable, repurposed wood.

His furniture is made from “managed, renewable forests.” He had a cushioned chair with no legs next to a short table for sale. “My furniture is influenced by the Asian culture,” Pietragalla said.

Michelle Lapointe, who’s been in the building for 10 years, had various stained glass pieces, abstract paintings and photography. She said she thought the glass work was selling best.

“It was steady all day,” she said Sunday, noting that she sold quite a few pieces. “I’ve never seen so many people come through here.”

Lapointe explained how she does her work, pointing to glass of various shapes and colors that she first cuts and then grinds to smooth the edges. Then, Lapointe uses small machines and tools to boarder the glass and connect different pieces. “It’s a process, and people sometimes don’t get the work involved,” she said.

Jayne Pallatroni said she’d been to the event before and likes it.

“It’s fun to see what’s going on in New Bedford,” she said. “It’s nice to see all the art.”

Rose Lewis was with Pallatroni and said it was her first time there. “I was just curious,” she said. She had fun talking with the artists and seeing some of the work they produced, she said.

Janice Hodson purchased a necklace from artist Lindsay Mis on the third floor.

“I’ve been here multiple years, sometimes with friends, sometimes with relatives,” Hodson said.

Sunday, she was with her 10-year-old niece Ava Travassos who said, “I was lucky today.”

Hodson said last year Travassos got an ostrich egg from artist Scott Currier after they talked about things they collect in nature. This year, she got a bird feather on top of a nest placed in a box that Hodson was holding. Travassos has to tell Currier what birds the feather relates to when she returns next year, Hodson said. She also got a necklace from Mis.

“People are very generous with their time and talking about what they do,” Hodson said.

Follow Aimee Chiavaroli on Twitter @AimeeC_SCT.

Original Story Here:

WHALE making fundraising push for ‘maker space’

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Next spring, the dusty, long-vacant space at 141 Union St. could be a hive of innovation and design that gives a huge boost to New Bedford’s art and “maker” communities.

NEW BEDFORD — The wooden floors were bare, parts of the ceiling were crumbling and water pooled in small puddles in the basement, but next spring, WHALE executive director Teri Bernert said, the dusty, long-vacant space at 141 Union St. could be a hive of innovation and design that gives a huge boost to the city’s art and “maker” communities.

“We’re trying to keep the artists in New Bedford,” Bernert said Wednesday, standing in what will become the Co-Creative Center, a 10,000-square-foot space that will include work and exhibition areas, with offices and apartments upstairs.

People will be able to use the shared equipment and space through memberships. Bernert and Amanda DeGrace, WHALE’s development coordinator, agreed that if the thriving Groundwork collaborative on Purchase Street is a shared office environment, the Co-Creative Center downtown will be a shared design studio — or lab, or “maker space,” or, essentially, garage-style workshop.

“But a really nice garage,” Bernert joked.

Think 3-D printers, tool benches, graphic design technology and more. Users of the space could include former art students from UMass Dartmouth’s nearby Star Store campus, local artisans, designers, startups and others.

The Waterfront Historic Area League (WHALE) is planning a Saturday launch for an ambitious fundraising effort for the center, as it begins a final push toward opening the doors next May. WHALE is hoping to raise $50,000 by late November, and if it does so, quasi-governmental agency MassDevelopment will match the funds. But if they don’t make the goal, DeGrace said, they don’t get the dough.

“Think of it as like a Kickstarter for community development,” DeGrace said.

The matching funds are part of MassDevelopment’s Commonwealth Places program, and affiliated with the agency’s Transformative Development Initiative (TDI), which began in 2015. TDI beneficiaries include New Bedford’s Union and Purchase Innovation District. MassDevelopment works at federal, state and local levels to create jobs and stimulate economic growth.

Bernert said the Co-Creative Center’s fundraising effort and related events over the next two months are intended “to make the community aware of this new space that’s part of the creative economy of New Bedford.”

The redevelopment project also includes the adjoining 139 Union St., on the corner of Union and Acushnet Avenue. While the shared workspace at 141 Union will be a nonprofit model and eventually “its own entity,” Bernert said, the corner space at 139 Union will be a mixed-use model, with businesses, offices and housing.

Two eateries have signed letters of intent for leases: The Noodle Bowl, owned by Madalena and James Jezierski; and People’s Pressed, a juice bar.

Bernert said the exterior of 139 Union will have “an all-new, historic façade that will wrap around” the building, along the Acushnet Avenue side.

She said the cost of the entire project, including acquisition of the building, is about $2.3 million. Funding has come from several sources, including a deferred-interest, $1 million MassDevelopment loan announced in August.

WHALE will accept donations through Patronicity, a civic crowdfunding platform online. People also can learn more about the project and how to contribute by calling WHALE at 508-997-1776.

The upcoming push for $50,000 more — or $100,000, with the match — will include efforts to gather input from the community. From 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 3, WHALE will host an information session about the Co-Creative Center, to gather input on what local artisans might want to see in the maker space.

That event will be at Groundwork, in the Quest Center on Purchase Street.

“We have a lot of designers that work here who have expressed interest in utilizing the maker space,” Groundwork co-founder Dena Haden said.

Talks about shared memberships and other collaborations are under way, Haden and Bernert said.

“I think it’s going to be a great asset for the community — for makers, artists and designers. I think it’ll be a great hub to have in the middle of downtown,” Haden said of the Co-Creative Center. “It might lead to more graduates from the art school staying in town, if they can utilize the shop and share facilities.”

Follow Mike Lawrence on Twitter @MikeLawrenceSCT