Thanks to a plentitude of museums, galleries, studios and theaters, Massachusetts is home to some of the best art spaces and art performances in the country.
One area particularly rich in this tradition is the city of Somerville, which is second only to New York City in artists per capita in the U.S. With glass-blowers, jewelers, sculptors, weavers, printmakers and photographers, Somerville’s artistic talent is vast and diverse, promising an enriching experience for visitors and locals alike.
Photo: Somerville Open Studios Brochure via Facebook
During the first weekend of May, the art of Somerville will be celebrated again through Somerville Open Studios (SOS), one of the largest single-weekend studio events in the country. Now in its 16th year, SOS began with the goal of broadening the exposure of Somerville’s diverse art scene. Since those humble beginnings, the weekend has become quite a draw, bringing in art aficionados from all over New England.
This year’s showcase affords visitors inside access to artists’ studios, including glimpses into private home studios, as well as the opportunity to explore art all around the city. Studios will open up to guests on May 3rd and 4th from 12 – 6 p.m., with a sneak preview at select locations on Friday, May 2nd from 6 – 9 p.m.
Photo: Jewelry made by SOS artist Dara Klein via Facebook
Throughout the weekend, studios inside historic buildings on Vernon Street and Joy Street will each host more than 100 artists, while other buildings like Mad Oyster Studios and Washington Street Art Center will house smaller group shows. Additionally, for artists without a space open to the public, there will be work featured at the Center for Arts at the Armory, as well as a Kid’s Art Show.
Photo: Artwork on Vernon Street via Facebook
To help visitors and residents navigate, the weekend will also include free trolley transportation between neighborhoods and free parking, too! Information kiosks will be spread throughout Davis Square and Union Square to direct travelers to marked artist sites.
Photo: Somerville Open Studios Map via Facebook
If you’d like to start getting your art fix before SOS gets underway, there’s no shortage of ways to do that, either. The Artists’ Choice Exhibit at the Somerville Museum is a good place to visit beforehand to get an idea of what the first weekend of May will have in store. The museum is open on Thursdays from 2 – 7 p.m., Fridays from 2 – 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 12 – 5 p.m. During SOS, hours extend on Friday, May 2nd from 2 – 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Throughout the month of April up until May 4th, visitors can enjoy the Inside-OUT Gallery exhibit in the CVS window at One Davis Square (map here), which features artists who are participating in SOS this year for the first time. For more, check out Beyond the Pattern, an independent designers’ fashion show, which takes place on Thursday, May 1st from 7 – 9:30 p.m. at the Armory. The event is first-come first-serve, so be sure to get there early for a good seat!
Remember to give yourself time to enjoy the art, talk with the artists, and (obviously) have fun! For more advice on how to make the most of your weekend at SOS, be sure to check out these visitor tips. This list of nearby cafes and restaurants that sponsor SOS is also good to scope out in advance, so you’ll know just when and where to stop and grab a bite to eat.
Photo: Artwork displayed at SOS sponsor Bloc 11 Café via Facebook
While planning your trip to SOS, there are plenty of options on places to stay and other things to do in the area. Nearby in Cambridge, Parkside on Ellery is a charming bed and breakfast that provides a home-away-from-home feel; it’s also located just minutes away from subway access on the Red Line, which can take you right to Davis Square in Somerville.
Also within walking distance to the subway is A Cambridge House Inn at Porter, which offers both Victorian and contemporary-style rooms. The nearby Harvard Square Hotel in downtown Cambridge is another good option, and if you’re looking for a truly upscale stay, check out the historic Kendall Hotel.
Photo: Harvard Square Hotel via Facebook
For even more places to stay in the Somerville/Cambridge area and across Massachusetts, click here. You can also find a comprehensive rundown of what there is to see and do around Greater Boston in between perusing open art studios here.
Photo at the top courtesy of Jill Robidoux on Flickr