Published May 29, 2019
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — A talented group of artists and musicians came together during the Open Studios art showcase and Spring Concert at Lynnfield High School on May 23.
During this year’s Open Studios, over 100 guests comprised of students, parents, community members, teachers and school officials came out to celebrate students’ creativity. The high school’s front lobby was transformed into an art gallery while LHS Band students performed during the Spring Concert that was simultaneously held in the auditorium.
Open Studios was first launched four years ago and is now one of the school system’s most highly anticipated events.
The show’s origins date back to the spring of 2015, when former LHS Band Director Tom Westmoreland, LHS Choral Director Doug Hodgkins, art teacher Laura Johnson and photography/design teacher Liz Hayden discussed holding an event in an intimate and relaxing format to showcase their talented students’ work. The program has since been expanded and now includes artwork created by Lynnfield Middle School students.
“We are really proud of the quality of work our kids had this year,” said Hayden. “Open Studios is a great way to showcase our students’ work to the community.”
“We had a great turnout, which is nice because we want to share our students’ work with the community,” said Johnson.
Middle school art teacher Myla Gordon noted she brought 35 students and their artwork to Open Studios. She said the middle school got involved with the program two years ago.
“It’s great to have the middle school students, especially the eighth graders, be part of this event because they get to see what the high school students are working on,” said Gordon. “I let them choose a piece that they wanted to feature.”
Open Studios’ art gallery featured a number of students’ artwork that included drawings, paintings, photography, mixed media and collages on display. Hayden noted this year’s event included work that was created during the high school’s new Advanced Placement (AP) Art and AP Photography programs.
“This is the first year we have had Advanced Placement Art and Photography,” said Hayden.
Johnson said the two teachers would like to add AP Drawing and AP Graphic Design to the high school’s curriculum.
“We are hoping to expand the program in the future,” said Johnson.
A number of middle school students channeled their inner Andy Warhol by bringing Pop Art pieces to the event.
“Students love Pop Art because it’s current and it’s hip,” said Gordon.
Hayden said the first annual Photo Challenge was “a great addition to Open Studios.” The winner of the contest, which was open to students and educators, was high school student Alexandra Calichman. She won a $100 gift card to Hunt’s Photo and Video.
In addition to showcasing students’ work, Johnson said Open Studios is a great opportunity for students to demonstrate how much their work has improved over the course of the school year.
“Students are constantly brainstorming and thinking about increasing their creative capacity,” said Johnson. “They are also progressing their technical skills whether they are in the dark room, painting or drawing. With enough practice, it comes together by the end of the semester or the year. They usually have some pieces that they are really proud of.”
Hayden concurred with Johnson’s point of view.
“It’s the culmination of years worth of work,” said Hayden. “Maybe they started taking an introductory class as a freshman and now they are doing an AP portfolio. It’s a great way for students to showcase how far they have come over the course of their four years. This is a real big confidence booster for the kids.”
While Open Studios was taking place, the LHS Band held the Spring Concert in the auditorium.
The Morning Jazz Group performed “Monsters, Inc.” by Randy Newman. Morning Funk 1 played a rendition of The Foundations’ “Build Me Up Buttercup.” Morning Funk 2 covered Lawrence’s “Probably Up.”
The A Block Band covered The Beatles’ legendary classic “Yesterday.” The C Block Band performed two songs, Van Halen’s “Jump” and Guns and Roses’ “Paradise City.” The E Block Band covered Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
The F Block Band performed “Forget You” by CeeLo Green, “Down Under” by Men at Work and “Then Came the Last Days of May” by Blue Oyster Cult. The G Block Band performed a rendition of Freddie Hubbard’s “Red Clay” and Chance the Rapper’s “Cocoa Butter Kisses.”
For the encore, all of the bands came on the stage and covered the credit roll from “Super Mario 3D World.”
First-year LHS Band Director Harry Wagg commended all of the musicians’ performances at the Spring Concert.
“This was an awesome night,” said Wagg. “The students have been fantastic all year and they are particularly fantastic on the night of concerts. They always sound great leading up to it. They work real hard and the material comes together. But on the night of concerts, they have a real knack for stepping it up a notch and bringing their A game.”
Wagg said Johnson and Hayden approached him about holding the Spring Concert on the same night as Open Studios.
“I appreciate them wanting to have us all be involved together as a Fine Arts Department,” said Wagg. “It also helps bring people to each other’s venues. Hopefully some of the families of my musicians got to see some of their students’ fantastic artwork and hopefully some of the artists’ families stuck around for the show.”
Wagg thanked the LHS Band program’s seniors for making his first year at LHS a success.
“Coming into a program where the previous band director had been here for 14 years, the program was put together really well,” said Wagg. “Tom Westmoreland did some incredible things for this program. It’s like a train chugging down the tracks. My main goal this year was to keep the train on the tracks. I think I have done that successfully, but I don’t think I could have done that without the help of the seniors. They were able to fill me in on what was working and what they thought could be tweaked. They were really insightful.”
Hayden, Johnson, Gordon and Wagg all thanked the school system’s administrative team for the support they have provided.
“We appreciate having our administration’s support,” said Hayden. “The kids really appreciate their enthusiasm for the work that they are doing. It’s really nice to have that.”
“They are excited about what we do and they want to support the program,” said Johnson.