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Artists reveal Dot’s creative side in weekend’s Open Studios celebration

Photo collage by Scotland Huber: His work will be on exhibit at First Parish ChurchPhoto collage by Scotland Huber: His work will be on exhibit at First Parish ChurchThis weekend Dorchester Open Studios (DOS) marks its 10th anniversary by expanding from a temporary-gallery-hopping opportunity to a wide-ranging celebration of the visual and performing arts.

Ambitious new programming includes readings in a variety of languages in Uphams Corner, an eclectic mix of live music and dance performances in Codman Square, and screenings of works by Dot filmmakers in Lower Mills.

Andrea Kunst, Chair of the Dorchester Arts Collaborative (DAC) which organizes the annual event, explains, “We are very excited to be including local musicians, spoken word artists, authors, film makers and poets in this year’s Open Studios. Since Dorchester is the home to so much diverse talent, we thought it was time to take advantage of some additional venues and present the work of artists in a variety of genres.”

In dramatically expanding its programming, DOS follows the lead of similar events around town. Boston Open Studios were originally conceived as special occasions during which artists invited the public into their normally private work spaces. But because of the time and effort needed to rearrange a messy atelier into a presentable exhibit area, many artists decided it was much easier to find a communal public place and set up separate little displays there.

The visual arts remain the focus of DOS 2011 with over 80 artists exhibiting in 15 different locations. The professional and emerging artists include painters, sculptors, photographers, fabric artists, and jewelers, one of whom creates pieces from repurposed electronics materials. Nine artists will be showing here for the first time.

As in the past, the biggest group site by far will be Meeting House Hill’s First Parish Church with over 22 participants. Venues with 10 or fewer artists include Pearl Street Studios, Humphrey Street Studio, the Boston Home, and the Baker Lofts. Quilter Ina Nenortas in Ashmont Hill is one of a handful welcoming the curious into her home space.

Other Boston Open Studios organizers have successfully lured those unaccustomed to sampling the visual arts by bundling exhibits with free performances. This time around DOS planners are testing that strategy.

The Great Hall in Codman Square (9 Norfolk St.) will be bustling all Saturday afternoon from 12 to 5 with such diverse acts as interpretative dance to cello, Haitian Christian pop rock, and a 7 piece funk/soul/ pop group from Berklee. Throughout the afternoon there will be a fashion and home goods art installation by local design service Kreyol.

Meanwhile, across from the Strand Theater during the same time period, Pilgrim Church (540 Columbia Rd.) will be hosting an afternoon of readings organized by the church’s volunteer organist Nancy Conrad.
The recently reformed Uphams Corner Improvement Association opens the program with a short sampler of poetry in a variety of languages: Aramaic, Cape Verdean Creole, Farsi, Filipino, Spanish and Vietnamese.

Most to the afternoon is devoted to English-language fiction and poetry readings by members of groups like Write on the Dot and the increasingly visible Dot Four. The women who make up the latter group note “One unusual aspect of our reading is that we don’t read seriatim, but interweave our voices/poems according to theme, so that the performance is, like a quartet in music, a composition for four different voices, each of which takes center stage at various points.”

Then, on Sunday from 1-4 p.m., short films will be screened in the auditorium of Carney Hospital (2100 Dorchester Avenue) and introduced by the Dot residents who created them. Starting the showcase off is “Gypsy Moon,” by Cheri Robartes, who teases the story thus, “Delivering bread to customers around their island home in the 1890s, twin girls hear someone playing a violin. In the woods they discover a gypsy, who brings the joy of music, stories and wild dance into their lives.”

Rounding out the triple bill are “Human Geography” by Misha Spivack and “People on Parade” by Chris Maggio and John Wilson.

Music and spoken word performances by Willie Pleasants and U-Meleni Mhlaba-Abode will be also part of tomorrow evening’s free reception. All are invited to the Friday soiree in the community room of the Baker Factory Apartments (1243 Adams St.) from 7-9 p.m.

DotBike will be conducting its annual tour leaving from the Great Hall at 11 am. “The ride of about 8 miles is at a relaxed paced with several brief stops to view some of the great outdoor art in our neighborhood.”

To preview the work of this year’s exhibitors and/or to download the performance schedules and keepsake map which highlights the neighborhood’s public art and historic sites, go to the-dac.org.

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