Somerville is home to literally hundreds of artists working in a variety of mediums, from painters and potters to musicians, dancers and wordsmiths. Those artists showcase their work at Open Studios, festivals and local markets and shops, but it isn’t often that the artists are recognized individually for their contribution to the creative scene. The Somerville Arts Council is changing all that with its new Artist of the Month initiative that rolls out today with its first honoree, Susan Berstler.
“I was really glad that we got to feature her first because she has been involved in Somerville’s creative life for years,” said Tim Devin, who is on the board of the Arts Council and spearheaded the Artist of the Month initiative. “She runs the Nave Gallery and they do some really great work with the Somerville Homeless Coalition, raising awareness and money for them at the Nave and at the installations around town like Perry Park. She put that together as well as Project MUM. She’s done so much.”
The idea for the Artist of the Month program actually came from a similar project that the Nave Gallery did from 2005-2009. Devin thought the initiative was worth reviving, so he set about doing just that.
“What the Nave had done was feature an artist every couple months and I always thought that was really great,” Devin said. “There are only a few ways to find out about new artists or musicians. I thought it was a shame when it stopped and I wanted to revive it, regularly to highlight local talent that we have in Somerville.”
The Somerville Arts Council asked the community to nominate artists who live or work in the city and a committee whittled the list down to the winners, which will be announced on the Arts Council website on the first Monday of each month in 2013. The announcement will feature an interview that Devin conducted with the artist as well as samples of their work.
And it’s not just visual artists being highlighted, musicians, poets and those working in a variety of mediums will be featured throughout the year.
“Hopefully the series will inspire other creative people and highlight the local creative talent,” Devin said. “This is a nice way to spotlight different people within the creative community. There’s so many folks doing so much and these are really passionate people. Often it’s hard to get positive feedback when you’re a creative person. People can nominate other people, so it’s a pat on the back from your peers and your neighbors.”