Walk Right In

Open Studios returns to Beacon for ninth year

By Brian PJ Cronin

Samantha Palmeri came to Beacon a few years ago to check out its Open Studios event, in which artists welcome visitors to view their process and art. When it was over, she didn’t want to leave.

Samantha Palmeri

“The quantity and quality of art is what made me decide I wanted to live here,” said Palmeri, who moved to Beacon with her family soon after. The abstract painter has not only participated in every Open Studios since but this year took over as director.

The event begins on Friday, May 12, from 6 to 9 p.m., with a party at Oak Vino, 389 Main St., followed by open studios from noon to 6 p.m., on Saturday and Sunday. Some 50 artists are taking part at 20 locations, including facilities like the old high school and Spire Studios and homes and garages. (See beaconopenstudios.org for a map.)

On South Chestnut Street, Lori Merhige will welcome visitors to the garage studio behind her home. “Some people just come for the free snacks and booze, and honestly that’s fine, I’ve been that person,” Merhige says. “Some people come because they look at it like a gallery and they want to buy.” Merhige, who teaches art in the Beacon afterschool program, will have crafts and activities for children. (Expect glitter, she says. Lots of glitter.) She didn’t participate last year because she had just completed an ambitious work — a sculpture made of reinforced gypsum that spent the summer on display at the Reeves Reed Arboretum in Summit, New Jersey — and her studio was empty.

Effluence, by Lori Merhige, will be installed in front of Beacon’s Municipal Building. (Photo provided)

This year that piece, called Effluence, is back in the studio, disassembled, as Merhige prepares for it to be installed in front of Beacon’s Municipal Building. Weather permitting, she plans to set up large-scale works in her driveway. She also has models and poured iron pieces that serve as inspiration for larger works.

Many of her pieces bring to mind cloth, which is no surprise in that she grew up working with textiles at a factory owned by her family. “It’s like alchemy,” she says. “Because of my background in fabrics, I want to transform the fabric by freezing it in time.”

Photos by Ross Corsair