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Getting Ready for Open Studios

Hi there. After a blogging-free summer, I’m back. This week I wandered around my art studio building to see what some of the other artists were up to. I figured that, like me, most would be preparing for the South End Open Studios, an annual weekend-long event that starts tomorrow in our neighborhood. Here’s what I found here at 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston.

Steve Silver in Studio 211 was donning his purple painting gloves to work on his newest piece. Steve is an abstract painter whose love of nature & landscape influences his work. Steve Silver Studio 211Steve Silver Studio 211 2


Painter Anne Harney had just carried a heavy ladder down the hall to Studio 228. She had moved into this space in the summer, and was about to hang her painted canvases. Anne Harney Studio 228Anne Harney Studio 228 2


Weaver Mary Mandarino was perfecting displays of her beautifully colored, super-soft looking woven wraparound shawls in Studio 306.Mary Mandarino Studio 306Mary Mandarino Studio 306 2


Photographer Sharon Schindler was hanging a camera-shaped neon light on her wall in Studio 412B, where she showcases her vibrant Boston images printed on wood and stone.Sharon Schindler Studio 412BSharon Schindler Studio 412B 2


Photographer Mark Peterson was trimming new studio signage in Studio 229, where he’s showing his series of images taken in Arizona, New Mexico, and the Texas panhandle.Mark Peterson 229Mark Peterson Studio 229 2


Sandy Belock-Phippen put finishing touch-ups on one of her landscape paintings in Studio 412A, while her husband measured the wall for an art hanging system.S Belock Phippen 412AS belock Phiipen 412A 2


Charyl Weissbach was working on some smaller blocks of art when I visited her in her well-organized space. Charyl’s ethereal, abstracted encaustic paintings are in Studio 413.Charyl Weissbach studio 413Charyl Weissbach Studio 413 2


Marcia Crumley was moving into Studio 225 from a studio on another floor, and she had a lot to do over the next few days! Marcia paints colorful, textured landscapes.Marcia Crumley 225Marcia Crumley Studio 225 2


Jewelry designer Deborah Macfail was setting up displays of some gorgeous, well-constructed pieces in Studio 306. She shares the space with weaver Mary Mandarino. Deborah Macfail Studio 306Deborah Macfail Studio 306 2


Modern abstract painter Heather Buechler was adding a layer of varnish to a vivid blue-toned painting. I thought her glossy floor-to-ceiling wall of paintings was breathtaking.Heather Buechler Studio 407 2Heather Buechler Studio 407


Patricia Busso had just returned to Boston from her current life in Italy, to be here for the South End Open Studios. She’ll show her landscape and still life paintings in Studio 325.Patricia Busson Studio 325 2Patricia Busso 325


Yours truly, bleary-eyed and ready to plotz in Studio 203 after taking inventory, having prints made, rearranging, making labels, and just generally checking off things my list.Paula Ogier in studioPaula Ogier Studio 203


In between the studios: I never tire of photographing the stairwells in this old warehouse building. Same with the odd little corners and their window views.

Stairwell at 450Hallway window view at 450

Thanks for exploring the 450 Harrison Avenue artist studio building with me. If you’re in Boston this weekend, put the South End Open Studios on your calendar! It goes from 11 am-6 pm both Saturday and Sunday, September 16 & 17. There are more than 80 artists in this building alone, and more than 200 in the neighborhood.

For 31 years now, the South End Open Studios has given visitors a chance to discover the creative environments of one of Boston’s most exciting community of working artists.

Here is more detailed info about the event.

I hope to see you this weekend,


Paula Ogier Artworks


Feeling the Green

Paula Ogier art studio Boston

While the rain’s been working overtime in Boston making the outdoor world green, I’ve been surrounding myself with indoor greenery. A corner of my art studio has become a leafy haven over the past month.

In addition to these indoor plants, I’m harboring some little cilantro and rosemary plants in the studio until the weather warms up. Not only has the spring season been soggy, but it’s also been one of the consistently coldest ones I can recall.

Paula Ogier art studio

My neighbor Kelly and I picked up these little lettuce and basil plants at the farmers’ market several days ago. They’re for the garden plot we share, but so far it’s been too rainy to get them planted in the ground. Tomorrow’s forecast looks cheerier and drier, so I may get my chance!

garden plants

I’m so looking forward to just picked herbs and arugula from the garden. Lately Joe and I have been making a salad dressing from fresh basil, fresh cilantro, chives, jalapeño pepper, cumin, lime juice, and avocado oil mixed together with an immersion blender. It’s delicious on salads, but also good for sautéing salmon in or poured over smashed potatoes. I look forward to making it with basil, cilantro, and chives freshly picked!



Paula Ogier Artworks



Two Artists, One Grand Space

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

An artist friend had a reception last week for an exhibit of her paintings at the St. Botolph Club in Boston. When I attended the reception, I was blown away by how great her paintings looked in this elegant space. I love her deep dark abstract paintings to begin with, but the building’s interior and her paintings looked to me like they were made for each other.

This show, called Dimensions: Space & Line, pairs two artists whose works enjoy easy conversation with one another: painter Elena du Plessis and sculptor Kim Radochia.

The St. Botolph Club occupies a double-wide Victorian brownstone on Commonwealth Avenue in Back Bay. The interior’s lovely period details look meticulously maintained and cared for. I had never set foot in the club before, so it was a treat to experience this grand space for the first time. Its beautiful wide staircase makes a dramatic setting for the artworks of these two talented artists.

Dimensions: Space & Line art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’s painted works are expressionist, drawing from her own experience and memory. She is often inspired by objects such as nests, seed pods, or flowers, many times at the end of their life cycles.

St. Botolph's Club Boston

Kim Radochia’s sculptural work often recalls water currents and lines, murmurations (patterns of flocking birds), and geological formations. Her works range from large site-specific outdoor pieces to small intimate assemblages and room-sized installations.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia. Her wire “Waiting” sculpture is suspended above the staircase, and her “Murmurations” paper sculpture is on the wall between Kim and the wire sculpture.

The paintings begin on the wall at the base of the staircase. They travel up through the second and third floors, along the staircase walls as well as on the walls of the second and third floor. Many of Kim Radochia’s sculptures are suspended in the air between floors.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

The artworks and interior complement each other so well that the journey up the staircase feels a bit magical.

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Elena du Plessis’ “Sunflower” (2017, charcoal ink on paper, 45″x36″)

I’ve lived in Boston for 24 years and never had any reason to venture inside the St. Botolph Club, so I’d probably never have known about this exhibit if I hadn’t known the artists. This show will be up through May 19, and is open to the public Wednesdays from 2-4 pm. Go see this perfect combination of artworks and interior space!

St. Botolph's Club art show Boston

Kim Radochia (left) and Elena du Plessis (center) respond to questions and comments from reception attendees.  They are joined by the show’s curators, Michael Price (second from left) and Barbara Glee Lucas (far right).

By the way, Elena and Kim are both members of the SoWa Artists Guild and have studios in 450 Harrison Avenue (the same building as mine). One of them is next door to me and one is across the hall! You can visit their studios on the First Friday of each month from 5-9 pm.



Paula Ogier Artworks

Cats in Space

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

It’s endearing enough to me that someone wondered what the original Star Trek cast would look like if they were cats. But then that someone actually took the time to imagine and paint those feline avatars and put them into real Star Trek scenes. And they’re good — they’re really good!

That someone is scientific illustrator Jenny Parks. I don’t know her, I’m pretty sure I like her. I recently crossed paths with her “Star Trek Cats” book in a museum bookstore. I was in awe of the illustrations and delighted by the book. I bought it for my boyfriend, who was just as amused as I was by it.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Lots of “wow”s and laughs later, I still love looking at the book. Page after page, it’s a joy. The scenes are from the original Star Trek series that featured William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, Nichelle Nichols, George Takei, DeForest Kelly, and James Doohan. I think this would be a really sweet gift for any cat-loving original Star Trek fan.

Star Trek Cats by Jenny Parks

Jenny Parks, you have boldly gone where no illustrator has gone before. Thank you! I’m still laughing.



Paula Ogier Artworks



SoWa Artists on WERS Radio Boston

450 Harrison Avenue artist studios

WERS radio’s Jolin Cheng made a surprise visit to our artist studio building recently. It was Salon Sunday, an annual event when many of the artists open their doors to the public. She talked with some of the artists in the SoWa Artists Guild, and WERS aired the piece Sunday morning.

When Jolin introduced herself and asked if she could interview me, I said sure. She pulled out her recorder. “Right now, right here?” I asked. She smiled and nodded.

In a moment of what-the-heckness, I agreed. When I later learned she’d talked with half a dozen of us, gathering selected comments from each, I was relieved.

One of the artists she interviewed made the point that open studios are a place for people to not only see and connect with artwork they like, but to connect with the person behind the work. Yes! Here’s the clip: Listen.

As the narrator says in the intro — To artists, art is language. If you’re in Boston, First Friday happens this week. I invite you to come by and experience this language for yourself.



Paula Ogier Artworks



Spring Brings Sounds to the Gardner Museum

Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Each time I’ve visited the courtyard at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, I’ve been surprised by how beautiful it is. It’s always like I’m seeing it for the first time. That was especially true yesterday when it serenaded me with subtle sounds of crickets, cicadas, and frogs. The sound artist who made it happen learned to make the sounds himself especially for this environment.

The courtyard is one of seven spaces within the museum hosting “Listen Hear,” a collection of sound art exhibits. The moods of sound contributed so much to my experience of the museum that I really wish they’d keep it there all the time. It made wandering through the halls and dark rooms magically transporting. Even the art looked different, more interesting, to me. It slowed me down. It no doubt helped that it was a weekday and, although it was far from empty, it didn’t feel crowded. Being alone helped, too.

Isabella Stewart Gardener Museum

Upstairs in the museum’s new modern addition, a wall of close-up cat portraits were part of another sound exhibit called “Sound for Insomniacs.” A viewer could sit on a wooden cube across from the portraits, put on a special pair of headphones, and listen to the purr of each individual cat. A little screen in the cube shows the name and image of the cat being heard. I don’t know why this surprised me—I’ve lived with cats for most of my life—but the purrs were remarkably different from one another. One was so gentle, it made me think of a finger softly stroking velvet, while others varied from bold to enthusiastic to musical.

Purr sounds Gardner museum

An eerily satisfying collection of sounds could be heard in the main house’s Fenway Gallery, a small room the size of a large closet. The room was dark except for a mysterious shimmering mass dangling from the ceiling, so bright it could be seen from all the way down the hallway.

This suspended ethereal mass was made of small glass ampules containing blue and gold liquids, woven into a digital fabric containing miniature acoustic resonators and LED lights. With nobody in the room, the installation was silent. If people entered the room, or even walked past, it would pick up on the movement. This would send an almost ghostly series of sounds in motion—what sounded to me like a gently steaming soup of skittering, whispering, breathing, brushing, and blowing.

Sentient Veil Gardner Museum

Peoples’ voices had the same effect on it. It interpreted all sound and motion, and then fed it back into the air with its own peculiar translations. It is aptly titled Sentient Veil.

Back in the cloister, the soothing chorus of insects and frogs went on beneath glorious strands of hanging Nasturium flowers. The blooms last about three weeks, and are a feature of every spring season at the Gardner Museum. This annual annual tradition was started by Isabella Stewart Gardner in the week prior to Easter.

Nasturiums Gardner Museum

There are more sound exhibits inside the museum than what I’ve shown you here. This one goes until September 5. If you’re in the mood for an earthy and sensual change of scenery, this is as good a spot as any in Boston.



Paula Ogier Artworks

Abstract: The Art of Design

Abstract: The Art of Design

During an unassuming scroll through Netflix offerings last week, something new caught my eye. It was a series of eight documentaries called Abstract: The Art of Design, each one about a specific designer, their field of design and creative process. What a good surprise! The even better surprise was how much we enjoyed watching them.

I was completely charmed by the first episode featuring self-conscious illustrator Christoph Niemann. Whether sitting in his Berlin studio staring at a blank white page or wandering through animations of his own drawings, the shy Niemann himself is cleverly drawn out by the filmmaker’s creative directing and editing. He describes quite accurately how people don’t really want to see authenticity in what he does. His success seems to lie not just in understanding the power of abstraction (“The abstraction for me is this idea of getting rid of everything that is not essential to making a point”), but in showing up everyday and keeping a non-formulaic practice alive (“I have to trust for crazy moments to happen”).

I think the best aspect of this series is hearing these eight different personalities—who range from confident to self-doubting to curious points in between—describe how their creations materialize.

Probably no surprise, but the graphic design episode featuring New Yorker Paula Scher was also a favorite for me. I liked seeing this person who has made a career of putting text on things (buildings, brands, theater posters) in her Connecticut home making loads of quirky, messy map-like paintings of the United States.

This series probably wasn’t intended to be binge-watched, but that’s what we did, burning through it in under a week. The creative disciplines included the two mentioned above, plus photography, stage design, athletic shoe design, car design, interior design, and architecture. In particular, I didn’t expect to care about car design or athletic shoes, but in some ways that wasn’t really the point. It’s fun hearing each of the designers talk about what they do and how it happens, even when it’s something I don’t think much about. I looked forward to that with each episode and wasn’t disappointed.



Paula Ogier Artworks