When the artists of the Fenway Studios come together for their annual Open Studios this weekend, they will not only be displaying their latest works, but they’ll be celebrating 10 years of helping the less fortunate with a food drive that coincides with the event.
Artists at the building have a unique set up and wonderful art created in one of the only buildings ever built specifically for the creation of art. But beyond all that wonderful piece of fact, the artists and the Friends of Fenway Studios have taken to helping others as they invite the public into their studios.
Lynda McNally, president of the Friends, said about 10 years ago she had the idea to begin collecting food for the Greater Boston Food Bank at the same time as Open Studios. It was an idea that has gained great momentum in 10 years and has helped provide pounds and pounds of food for the needy.
“The artists here decided they wanted to do something for the community and for people less fortunate,” said Peter Williams, an art restorer who has been at Fenway Studios 43 years. “So, we decided to coordinate a food drive during open studios and assist the community. It was very good for us to know that some child or person would go to bed with a little more than they are used to.”
Added McNally, “They look forward to promoting and helping with these projects. It is a very sincere feeling because this is their neighborhood and community. They want to do whatever they can to fill voids that are here.”
During a visit to Williams’s studio, he showed a painting of a female physician that was being restored so that it could be placed in a local hospital. The woman was Susan Dimock, who has a health center in Roxbury named for her. Dimock, he said, was renowned but didn’t get a lot of credit because she was a woman. Unfortunately, she died in a shipwreck when she was 30.
Ironically, Williams said the painting had been restored at Fenway Studios previously before his time.
“A gentleman from Marshfield found it and recognized the importance,” he said. “He wanted it restored and it is being given to a hospital. There was a restoration company in the Fenway Studios before I was born that restored this same painting. It was right underneath my studio. Now it has come back again for me to restore it.”
Painter Ed Stitt has been in Fenway Studios since 1989, and he said he has enjoyed the food drive.
“Although it’s hard for me to make a buck as an artist, there are people who don’t have a place or a meal,” he said. “What better idea than giving food? People may not open their wallet, but a can of food they will give. We get quite a lot of support. You know you’re making a difference.”
McNally said they average around 200 pounds of food each year, and this year they have teamed up with the Lansdowne Pub down the street to provide a free appetizer coupon with a dinner purchase.
“We always want to be generous, and especially in our neighborhood and if we can turn it into a great partnership – like with Open Studios – we’re happy to do that,” said Jeremy Garside of Lansdowne.
Added General Manager Ben Hamilton, “We work with the Fenway Alliance and the Victory Gardens too. We’ve been here 10 years and if you’re going to be here, you need to be part of the community. There’s definitely a culture here and we want to participate in that. There is no better way than to assist with the food drive.”
The Fenway Studios building will hold its annual Open Studios on Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 10 and 11 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Ipswich Street.
Open Studios provides a rare opportunity to meet and talk with artists as well as to see the inside of this National Historic Landmark. Fenway Studios is the oldest purpose built structure in the country designed solely as artist studios.