South Coast gets artsy at ‘Open Studio Tours’

Aug 19, 2023

Rows of homes pressed into glass, painted and or sails billowing in the wind enhanced on canvas with acrylic.

South Coast artists invited the public to see their studios and art on Aug. 19 and 20. The Open Studio Tour includes Tiverton, Little Compton, R.I., Westport and Dartmouth. Up to 75 artists participate across all 4 towns.

Some visitors travel long distances to view all the different studios, others are locals just interested to see what their neighbors are up to.

“I am noticing lots and lots of visitors from the surrounding [areas], from as far out as far out as Springfield, as far down as Pennsylvania, as far north as Vermont and New Hampshire,” said Robert Abele, a Dartmouth-based painter participating in the open studio tour for his 10th year. “People are coming here as a destination and the South Coast is starting to get a reputation for the creativity it has here.”

Currently, Abele works in Plymouth as a special education art teacher. He finds that all of his students can grow through art.

He started with graffiti to be “cool and tough” as an artist, but as his art has morphed into open-air painting he found graffiti can be used as a tool to teach art.

“I have realized that it is such an important part of the vehicle I use to teach children now,” Abele said. “I can introduce them to graffiti and I can introduce them to perspective and to color and to value and to so many other areas of art. This is my bridge to get to them.”

His paintings are mainly architecture, painted on the scene.

Another stop on the tour is Marianne Boucher’s Vintage Barn Studio in Dartmouth. Unlike Abele, she paints mainly from photos taken by her husband Mike.

“I will go through [Mike’s] pictures and see something that I like, I'll take it and do a painting of it,” Boucher said.

The former cow barn is now lined with paintings of cows, local landscapes and other scenic images taken by her husband.

“She’s got the hardest parts, it’s easy to take the picture,” Mike said. “I do maybe one percent, she does the other 99.”

Melynda Schudrich brings nature into her small vessel glass-blowing creations. She says people love her mushroom pendants which encapsulate a tiny glass mushroom that she makes in her at-home studio.

“Mushrooms are super popular, a lot of people when they look at them think it is a real mushroom in there,” said Schudrich.

She also makes larger fused glass projects, including platters that show houses close to each other, which she says are inspired by New Bedford.

Dartmouth native Susan Cabral finds her inspiration closer to her South Dartmouth home.

“I just happened to fall in love with boats,” she said about her work. “The colors, the reflection in the water. I just absolutely love them.”

Cabral got her start painting as a child with support and encouragement from her father.

“My dad couldn’t afford paintings, but he loved art,” she said. “So, bought me anything I needed if I painted anything he wanted.”

Cabral mostly paints from photographs that she takes or takes inspiration from. Currently, her art is featured in three galleries: River Shops Gallery in Mattapoisett, Norton Gallery in Padanaram and Louisagould Gallery in Martha's Vineyard.

“You can do anything you really love, you can do anything,” said Cabral. “You just have to work a little harder and really be invested.”