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Somerville Arts Council event will showcase work at artists’ homes

(Somerville Wire) – The Somerville Arts Council (SAC) is holding its first ever “Yart” Sale on August 14. Fusing together the idea of a yard sale and an art exhibit, the event will allow residents to display their own works of art or travel around the city to see that of others, all on view in the driveways or front yards of community members. Yart Sale is meant to be somewhat open-ended and casual, allowing participants to show or sell artwork, handmade objects, collectible items, plants, or even works that children created during quarantine.

“Yart Sale was a way to continue to support artists after this lockdown that we had,” said Iaritza Menjivar, SAC event manager. “The idea really sprung from that. In December, we did the Illuminations Tour, but obviously we couldn’t do anything to gather people. Instead, we did this map on Google, which is what we’re doing for Yart Sale as well. It’s kind of like a self guided tour. We figured that this idea of Yart Sale branches off a little bit from Porchfest, which is also more of musical performances happening on people’s porches and yards. For Yart Sale, we kind of combined those two ideas. Instead of doing music though, we wanted to focus on the other part of the art world … We wanted to provide a platform for artists to show their work. We also thought about how people do yard sales and thought, why not combine this idea of showcasing and exhibiting your artwork, and give artists the opportunity to sell their work, especially after this lockdown, where galleries have been closed. They can do all this from the comfort of their home and curate their own shows.”

SAC has created a Google map that art viewers will be able to access on August 13. They can use this as a guide to travel around Somerville, visiting the homes of participant artists who are showcasing and selling their work outdoors. Menjivar emphasized that unlike Porchfest, there will not be a live music component, as the organizers wanted to differentiate Yart Sale and keep the focus on visual art. She added that quarantine has been, for some artists, a productive and creative time to make works, though it has also had its challenges. For people who have lost studio spaces or galleries where they can exhibit their work, Yart Sale is meant to be an opportunity for their art to emerge from the pandemic.

Ilana Krepchin is an artist who has signed up to participate in Yart Sale, but as she does not have a yard where she lives, she decided to collaborate and partner up with a friend, Nelson Salazar. Krepchin creates jewelry that is often very geometric in nature, inspired by mathematical concepts, but during the pandemic, she began exploring “small scale, kinetic sculpture.” For Krepchin, the time of the coronavirus has been a creatively productive one, but it has also had its financial hardships.

“At the very beginning of the pandemic, I definitely wasn’t creative at all,” said Krepchin. “My studio was completely shut down, and I couldn’t use it at all, anyway. I was just too anxious about everything to do anything besides be anxious. But once [there was a return] to some semblance of normalcy, even though it’s still not normal, I did find myself being fairly creative.” She added, “My studio is now moving, so I’m going to be studio-less. … I’m not quite sure what the future of my artistic endeavors will be.”

Alison Drasner is another artist who will be participating in Yart Sale and is excited to have an opportunity to share her work. She is primarily a painter and enjoys doing still lifes of flowers and other botanicals, because of the feeling of joy that they bring her. Her five-year-old nephew may also be showcasing some paintings he has worked on. Drasner is thankful that she still has a space to work, Vernon Street Studios. However, she acknowledges that she is an artist who thrives off of the responses of an audience, and the pandemic has made it difficult to have that kind of exchange.

“I am the type of artist that really feeds off of showing other people my work,” said Drasner. “Their insights and their thoughts—they just motivate me to keep going. Not having that was really, really hard.” She added, “It was a really anxiety filled year. It was hard for everybody. I struggled with not knowing when we’d be able to show our work again… But I think like a lot of the other artists, I made the most of it. I experimented with online sales, how to set that up, what to do. … I’m looking forward to the future. I’m hoping for other opportunities to show in person, in public. We’ll see.”

This article is syndicated by the Somerville Wire municipal news service of the Somerville News Garden project of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism.

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Shira Laucharoen is assistant director of the Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism and assistant editor and staff reporter of the Somerville Wire.

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