The Creative Soul of Lowell
I woke up Saturday morning with the opposite of my once typical get-up-and-go mojo. I pulled the covers up higher, clicked on NFL today and began to listen to NFL insider’s drone on, very little meat on those analyst-bones…
My wife Kathy, trying on a 2nd sweater for the day—so adorable—asked with her general enthusiasm; “We are going to the Salem Tuscan Market Holiday marketplace…wanna come?!” She meant it. Partly because she likes me enough, and probably partly because she wants me to not stroke-out obsessing about work. (“Step away from the computer” she urged last night). My first reaction, the FOMO one, was like the puppy anticipating a snack…my tail wagging furiously under the covers. Then almost immediately, picturing traffic, parking, crowds, too many candles and ribbons, this puppy went full on curmudgeon! “Oh, hell no. Thanks anyway”
I don’t hate shopping. I don’t hate crowds. I hate “shopping” in crowds with a crowd. This is the only time of year I actually plan shopping. (I love giving gifts as bad as it as I am!). And when I shop, my first goal is always to keep it local. Malls are a last resort and Christmas eve is never off the table.
Which brings me to the above title, someone’s clever promotional tagline for Western Ave Studios on the outskirts of downtown Lowell. I LOVE Western Ave. I could go on and on. In fact… Repurposing giant mills, for starters, is a gas. Well done Lowell, in general! And, the evolution of this particular space through the years, amazing. From the giant, clunking freight elevators, to the 20th century stairs and windows and walls and; The rawness of the bones juxtaposed against the warmth and love of the individual studios filled with the kindest, most creative people amongst us, is super special.
Then, there’s the endless, floor upon floor, studio upon studio of things made by hand or machine or hand held “machine”, that I could only dream about conceiving, much less creating. Clothing, jewelry, ceramics, paintings, photography, collectibles, hot sauces, scarves, glass blowing…I’ll stop–but “it” doesn’t! Oh, and also, it’s never too crowded so there’s zero pressure when you want to just stand and stare at something incredible. And a bonus for “guys like me”; On the first (or last!) floor, some incredibly delicious, made right there Navigation beer—to get you started, or to soothe your tired feet upon completing the tract. And honestly, good luck with that!