DFI's Creative Economy Tour Features Artists, Boat Rides

Vanessa Hargrove Pendexter spoke about her photography during DFI's Creative Economy and Cultural Tour.

Vanessa Hargrove Pendexter spoke about her photography during DFI's Creative Economy and Cultural Tour.

By Shanleigh Reardon, Project Manager, DFI

Downtown Framingham, Inc. hosted its first Creative Economy and Cultural Tour on Saturday, June 23rd.

The tour stopped at Farm Pond and Howard Street Studios. A bus, provided by Kiessling Transit, escorted the tour goers between stops.

On the first stop of the bus tour, a representative from Sudbury Valley Trustees accompanied tour goers on a boat ride around the pond. During the tour, he highlighted the diverse wildlife and the conservation efforts of Farm Pond. On shore, SVT also displayed wildlife photography that has been taken on and around the pond over the past few years.

Also on shore, a representative from KIG Real Estate Advisers shared renderings and answered questions about their upcoming housing development on Fountain Street, where the Bancroft Building currently stands. Plans for the development include a swimming pool and three buildings that will hold studio, one- and two- bedroom units. The real estate firm hopes to attract young professionals from Boston who will be interested in living close to the commuter rail.

District 8 City Councillor Judith Grove raised questions about the increase of traffic the development will likely bring to the area. The planned parking areas would be accessible only via Fountain Street in an area where visibility is already a problem due to the CSX Bridge and the orientation of the Bancroft Building.

The developer said the current staircases that impede visibility at the intersection will be removed. He added most potential residents of the development will not be driving as much as they will be walking, biking and riding the train.

Beverly and Nancy reveled in their Farm Pond Boat tour, courtesy of Skipper Dave Anderson

Beverly and Nancy reveled in their Farm Pond Boat tour, courtesy of Skipper Dave Anderson

After Farm Pond, the tour stopped at Howard Street Studios. Local artists Jay Pendexter, Cathy Gruetzke-Blais, Judy Schneider and Vanessa Hargrove Pendexter opened their studios and allowed those on the tour to view their art, their work spaces, and ask questions.

After exploring the studios, everyone gathered around a timeline where the artists each spoke briefly about how and when art has impacted them over the course of their lives.

Judy Schneider said she would try to stick to a linear timeline, however, the way she thinks - much like her art - is more abstract.

Jay Pendexter said his art has been greatly influenced by nature and wildlife. He says he owes this influence to his upbringing in Michigan and Minnesota. Pendexter works primarily in watercolors but also creates prints and uses oil pastels in his pieces.

Cathy Gruetzke-Blais said her goal for this summer is to spend most of her time in her studio on Howard Street. Being a school teacher and a mother to teenage twins, Grueztke-Blais said she hasn't been able to spend as much time on her art as she would like. She added, having a creative work space, like Howard Street, allows her to connect with other creative people and to dedicate time and space to her art.

Vanessa Hargrove Pendexter said she is currently trying to get reconnected to her creativity through photography. Pendexter said she grew up very lucky and had many opportunities to take art classes as a student.

After the presentation at Howard Street Studios, the tour returned to its starting point at Braza Grill where tour goers checked out the new restaurant and its event space.

Earlier in the day, DFI hosted Berklee College of Music student Jeremy Green at Sofa Cafe as the last installment of the organization's Taste of Downtown Framingham Concert Series. Green performed current pop hits on his viola for the community while they enjoyed coffee and breakfast.