Micro Histories

Mudflat Studio (190 Broadway, ) Between the hot kilns and the mess that come from working with clay, it can be tough for sculptors to find studio space with other artists. “It’s kind of messy, so a bunch of painters wouldn’t want to share space with us,” says Mudflat Studios Executive Director Lynn Gervens. Forty years ago, a group of clay artists united to form the nonprofit Mudflat in Cambridge. But when their headquarters was sold for redevelopment, the group had to find a new home that could accommodate heat from the kilns. Eventually, Mudflat found 190 Broadway, a former department store. It has served as the studio for the past 26 years. Recently, the studio moved to the former Broadway Theatre (81 Broadway). The new space has room for both Mudflat’s work area and a gallery – which was formerly in Porter Square – that sells pieces made there. Work coming out of Mudflat ranges from usable household items to jewelry and sculpture. Says Gervens: “It creates a really great community of people using the same material.” – Meghann Ackerman

RESPOND, Inc. (66-70 Union Sq, ) In the 1970s, a group of local women decided to provide help and services to men and women who were victims of domestic abuse. But when RESPOND incorporated in 1974, it seemed likely the organization wouldn’t make it off the ground. “They had zero means to start and fund an agency,” notes current RESPOND Executive Director Jessica Brayden. “They were so poor that they used to meet at a bar and they would buy one drink at a time so they could prolong their time at the table.” Today, RESPOND has provided services to 75,000 people and formed a network of support that includes other nonprofits, local businesses and law enforcement. Brayden calls RESPOND’s founders “pioneers” for addressing domestic violence and recognizing that it could be found in any type of relationship. Going through old records, Brayden found information about clients in same-sex relationships. Even today, RESPOND is one of the few agencies providing services to men, women and children – and is GLBT-friendly. RESPOND also provides a 24-hour hotline and referral line at . – Meghann Ackerman

Ricky’s Flower Market (238 Washington St, ) Ricky’s boasts a dizzying array of flowers, trees, tropical plants and herbs, all located on the site of what was once a CITGO gas station. Anthony Richard DiGiovanni (aka Ricky) bought the location in 1989, using the station’s outdoor space to create a European-style open-air market. “My parents lived around this area and it’s been really important to me to be a part of the community,” he says. “We’re a working man’s market, and we cater to regular local people.” It’s little surprise to find that working with plants has flowed in the blood of the DiGiovanni family for three generations. DiGiovanni’s father worked as a gardener and landscaper, and – before immigrating to Boston – his grandparents kept gardens and vineyards in Abruzzi, Italy. Ricky’s stays open year round, offering a variety of Christmas trees during winter. – Cam Terwilliger

Somerville Arts Council (50 Evergreen Ave, ext. 2985) The Somerville Arts Council started as a means of distributing grants to local artists, with Cecily Miller sharing office space with former mayor Gene Brune. The staff has not exactly ballooned since then, though they’ve moved out of the mayor’s office and into the City Hall Annex Building. “We’re at 2.5 now,” says Rachel Strutt, director of programming. However, a small number of people can accomplish great things. One of the first projects the Arts Council worked on was ArtBeat, a festival of local arts and crafts in Davis Square. Twenty-five years later, the festival – and the Arts Council – is still growing and thriving. – Amy Rossi

Share this:

Leave a Comment