Salem’s Artists’ Row opens its doors to the public once more with a whole new compliment of artists and artisans, way finders and public artists, and a brand-new large-scale mural covering the newly repaired walking path along the length of the Row.
Artists’ Row consists of four artist shops/studios and a restaurant (The Lobster Shanty) and is centrally located in historic downtown Salem at 24 New Derby St., across from Old Town Hall and Derby Square. This area, at the heart of the City, was originally built as a marketplace and continues to be a thriving public plaza and pedestrian way. The Artists’ Row initiative is a seasonal program overseen by the Salem Public Art Commission, which provides space for artists and artisans looking to build their audience and grow their business through daily engagement with residents and visitors of Salem.
Three of the four artist studio shops are newly occupied by artist-lead business including Beverly Bees, ShinDig!, and Chagall PAC.
Beverly Bees sells bee products direct from the beekeeper. They make award winning local raw honey, 100% pure beeswax candles and beeswax lip balms, lotions and salves with bee products from our sustainably managed hives located across Massachusetts. Beverly Bees save bees with their bee removal services, rescuing them from extermination and offer a hive hosting program to the community. Their handcrafted 100% pure beeswax candles are made right at Artists' Row in over 200 shapes and designs. Beeswax candles burn slower, drip less, and burn brighter than other types of candles, they are the healthiest candle to burn. Visit their shop at Artists’ Row to learn about bees, honey, beekeeping, beeswax candle making and to purchase their honey, beeswax candles and bee skin care products. Find out more at www.beverlybees.com.
ShinDig! is a fun-loving force of three artists creating upcycled clothes, jewelry, and painted items. Their style is deeply inspired by graphic design and pop culture while their method of upcycling vintage materials reflects their passion for sustainability. Visit their store and working studio on Artists’ Row to find one-of-a-kind denim jackets, a pop art suitcase or serving tray, a pair of funky game piece earrings, rock and roll pins, and lots more. They literally can’t stop creating, so go visit and see what’s new! Find out more at shindigstudios.com.
The Chagall Performance Art Collaborative (ChagallPAC) is a community of artists committed to collaborating across disciplines and exploring the ways we experience art. On Artists’ Row, you can buy their jewelry/visual art, take art workshops from laser cutting to acrylic pouring to candle-making, take music lessons, participate in yoga and writing classes, listen to music, and more! Come see what art you can create and take away from ChagallPAC. Find out more at chagallpac.wixsite.com.
New this year, the City has reserved one of the units as a studio/workshop space the new Public Artists in Residence (PAiR) program. Local artists Lauren Smedley and Jacob DeGeal working under the artist name Creative Blocks are activating the space and engaging the community through their pop-up public art interventions throughout downtown Salem.
“Creative Blocks believes art is a tool for community engagement, public participation and local collaboration,” said Smedley and DeGeal. “We are inspired by how people move and engage within their city, but also the things that inhibit that mobility and engagement. Our art aims to encourage connection through public dialogue and movement. In the past we've done this by building low-fidelity neighborhood messaging boards, street art stenciling, and creative feedback loops. We look forward to the opportunity of creating these moments throughout Salem.” You can learn more about Creative Blocks at creativeblocks.org or follow them on Instagram @creativeblocks.salem.
In addition to the incredible and talented new tenants and the launch of the inaugural Public Artist in Residence residency, the City of Salem’s Public Art Commission has also commissioned the creation of a large-scale mural project, called Unity Path, to adorn the Artists’ Row corridor.
In celebration of the reopening of Salem’s Artists’ Row, lead artist Liz LaManche and a team of community members are filling the block with a series of decorative ground and wall art murals signifying inclusion and welcome. Unity Path uses whimsical, vibrant colors with core elements from a diverse array of communities and cultures represented in today’s Salem, blended in with gorgeous mandalas and scattered decorative features. The design draws visitors in and encourage them to explore and enjoy this place together.
Unity Path unites the input and work of a multicultural group of area artists, sharing ideas and symbolic language from the range of cultures represented in Salem today, including Latinx, African American, Indigenous, Middle Eastern, Albanian, Brazilian, Dominican, Afrohispanic, Afro-Caribbean, Puerto Rican, and European. The initial goal of the project was to include and represent the culture of at least the top five most spoken languages in Salem. Through a robust community input design and implementation process, the project grew to include so much more.
The theme of mandalas was chosen to unify symbols from different places. Mandalas are radially balanced symmetrical configurations of symbols, containing a circle with a center point. In various spiritual traditions they may represent the cosmos, a unified whole, or the home of a deity, and may be a focus for meditation. The concept is original to Hinduism and Buddhism of South Asia and Asia, which were in contact with Salem through a long trading history. In modern times the mandala concept has been incorporated into Western thought, especially as a focus for meditation and symbol of enlightenment.
There are, of course, so many cultures that make up Salem today, that would be difficult to include them all. However, the team is hopeful that, with the presence of so many different elements from a wide array of cultures, all who enter the space will feel included and welcome. Unity Path’s ultimate goal is to create a fun and vibrant space that showcases Salem’s seafaring history and celebrates its creative, diverse, welcoming present.
The project is organized by lead designer Liz LaManche, who previously brought Salem the popular ground tattoo installation, “Salem’s Connected World,” in 2015. LaManche is a public artist who uses color and symbolic visual language to make city spaces more fun, meaningful and sustaining, bringing people together in a shared experience. Their socially conscious practice includes being both eco- and people-friendly, committing to low waste and supporting local communities, with emphasis on uplifting and employing BIPOC and women local artists. Find out more at www.earthsign.com.
Unity Path design team includes:
Liz LaManche: Earthsign.com
Eileen Riestra: DYAStudio.com
Keshia DeLeon: @kleonarts
Miguel Cruz: @oka.je
Stephanie Espinale: @_espycreative
Julia Cseko: JuliaCseko.com
Unity Path paint team includes:
Anna Dugan: annadidathing.com
Erin Survilas: erinsurvilas.com
Scott Froeschl: @scottfroeschlsart
Bradley Dickinson: @radbe
Stephanie Espinale: @_espycreative
Kate Holloway: kateaurelia.com
Karyn Alzayer: HennaInspired.com
Heather Maes: @life_is_a_maes