Natick Artists Open Studios Event Uncertain
The term open for business has taken on a different flavor during the pandemic, and assumed an aftertaste that promises to linger into next year. Indoor gatherings of all stripes continue to be somewhat pared back and prescribed, especially with the emergence of Covid variants.
And so more than a year into the pandemic, plans to hold the Natick Artists Open Studios (NAOS) event are in limbo.
The event offers Natick artists and artisans the chance to showcase their creativity to the community in the comfort of their own studios. Interested parties and art aficionados are directed via maps to visit the places where the magic happens - basements, empty-nested bedrooms, converted garages and kitchens. These are spaces that have assumed new roles to suit the needs of the creatives who live there.
Visitors are afforded an opportunity to see and purchase the artists’ finished work, but also to peer through the window of the creative process that produced those pieces. Among the many and eclectic mediums usually on offer at NAOS are photography, pottery, painting, and sculpture.
But the pandemic has changed the way the public interacts, prompting organizers and participants of NAOS to take extra precautions. The event is ostensibly planned for the October 16th and 17th weekend, but organizers plan to play it by ear, taking Covid conditions into account as the date draws closer.
“It’ll all depend on whether it’s safe,” said Deb Sayre. She is the ever-present organizational force at the helm of NAOS and Natick’s popular weekly Farmers Market events. She added that artists’ work will be on display throughout the Natick Common on September 25th during that day’s Farmers Market.
After several decades of meeting to plan events like NAOS, Sayre and the group recently began to discuss formalizing the team of volunteers. They decided to tie the knot, so to speak, and make the relationship official. The group has taken “Natick Artists Association” as its name, and will assume a place among the growing number of groups seeking to foster creative arts in Natick.
“We’ve been talking about it for some time,” said Sayre, “And now we’ve made the decision. So, we’re growing up.”
Sayre hopes the formal name recognition will help get the word out about the opportunities and alliances to be had in the town for people interested in creative endeavors. Being in the public eye as often as Sayre is - at farmers markets and various events - offers a bird’s-eye view of the creative landscape, and what areas may need tending to.
“I’m forever running into artists who don’t know about us. It’s always a delight to make those connections.”
As for the Natick Artist Open Studios event in October, she said the association will make a final decision first thing in October.
In online video footage from January of 2020, Sayre can be seen speaking at an in-person meeting, elbow-to-elbow with more than a dozen participants. It was touted in a caption as the first NAOS organizational meeting of that year, and stated that all were “Looking forward to a creatively dynamic and rich year.”
That now stands among those countless historical documents, a snapshot of the way we lived prior to the pandemic, and how that would contrast with the reality of life just a few months later. The group held a similar meeting toward the end of last month, one in which that new reality and its restrictions played a central role in the planning. Members of the group were masked and set safe distances apart, and safety was the organizing theme among the approximately ten-person meeting.
They discussed how many artists were willing to open their studios to masked visitors for NAOS, and how many were willing and able to bring the substance of their studios out-of-doors for the event.
“Basically we were exploring a variety of options,” said Sayre. “With the understanding always that safety is the number one priority. There are so many factors involved, so everybody hopes for the best.”