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For Lynnfield Art Guild, the show must go on(line)

Lynnfield Art Guild member Frank Tomasello stands with his paintings which are hung in North Shore Bank in Peabody. (Spenser Hasak)

LYNNFIELD — The COVID-19 pandemic won’t prevent the Art Guild from continuing its tradition of giving local artists a chance to study their craft, show and sell their artwork, and network and socialize with others in their field. 

But tradition is taking a twist. Instead of canceling exhibits, the 57-year-old organization moved them online. Still, guild immediate past president Beth Aaronson said she misses in-person art viewing opportunities.

“It’s just such a lively, wonderful, enriching environment, so we miss that,” said Aaronson. “We want to make sure we still give value to our members with their membership.” 

With more than 100 members from 17 communities, the guild takes pride in participating in community events such as the Lynnfield Townscape town-wide celebration, which had to be postponed.

Aaronson said there are tentative plans to give guild members an opportunity to create a sub-website on the Lynnfield Art Guild webpage, which would allow local artists to work through the organization’s platform if they don’t have their own online presence. 

“It is challenging, but since basically people are continuing to create art, we just need to keep encouraging each other and find new ways to share it,” she said.

The Guild’s virtual offerings this fall will include Zoom panel demonstrations by Cynthia Crimmons, a well-known pastel artist, watercolor artist Michael Solovyev, and acrylic artist Jill Pottle.
During these demonstrations, which would typically be held the third Thursday of each month, artists will complete a painting in stages over the course of an hour. 

People usually take notes, ask questions and socialize during the sessions, Aaronson said, explaining that people are often excited to see the artistic process. 

Member artists have an opportunity to display their artwork in local banks that have partnered with the Lynnfield Art Guild, and the organization has a permanent display in the Lynnfield Public Library. 

Frank Tomasello, 84, local artist and former guild board member, has several paintings on display at North Shore Bank in Peabody. 

Tomasello, a Peabody resident who specializes in fine art, said he has not done any shows during the pandemic, but that has not stopped him from producing artwork. 

Having paintings displayed at local banks is not a money-maker, but it does give artists a chance to get their name out there, he said. 

“I have a lot of people who call with compliments after seeing it at the bank,” said Tomasello. “It’s rather difficult, especially with the ways things are now, but we have to roll with the punches.” 

Joyce Fukasawa, 82, who specializes in watercolor and acrylic art, has five paintings on display at Wakefield Co-Operative Bank in Lynnfield.  

Fukasawa said she got involved with the art guild eight years ago as a way to meet people after she moved to Lynnfield. 

“I thought, ‘I’ve got to do something with myself,'” said Fukasawa. “I went to the senior center and saw they had all these classes. It’s a great group and a great way to get to know people who have the same interests.” 

The organization has also given Fukasawa a chance to make use of her college major. Although she studied art in school, Fukasawa worked as an interior designer for 40 years. 

“It’s fun to get back into it and create,” she said. “It took me a while to get the feel of the whole thing again. I love it. I don’t always get a masterpiece but I love it.” 

Getting back into creating art has also been a great outlet for Fukasawa during the pandemic, she explained, noting that she has been able to meet with other member artists on a weekly basis throughout the summer at two local parks, Salem Willows and Saugus Iron Works. 

“I think if it weren’t for that, I would be a little loopier than I actually am.” said Fukasawa. “It helps you mentally get away.”

Starting a new season in a pandemic prompts Aaronson to muse that it is “pretty remarkable” the Lynnfield Art Guild has been around for 57 years. 

Over that time, she said the organization has stayed true to its original purpose, which was to provide a platform for artists and to provide residents with a deeper appreciation of the arts. 

“I think we all need to live and breathe art in our lives,” said Aaronson, adding: “Those of us who are in the guild see ourselves as artists. We have a yearning, a spiritual need to keep producing and experiencing art, and sharing our art with others. I think it’s more important than ever to find that center in our lives.”

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