By Sharon Santillo
Like a small acorn that grew into a large tree, a small grant given to the Malden Sketch Group 25 years ago led to one of the longest lasting drawing groups in the Greater Boston area.
“I thought it would only last as long as the initial grant, but look what that seed money has done,” said Fred Seager, one of the founders.
Another founder was Nunzio Luca. “He was a much admired head of the Malden High School Art Department for years, and was a wonderful artist, mentor, and good friend,” Seager said.
Nunzio and Seager decided to get a life drawing group together and they set out to find a space. “We were fortunate also to have the early support of Neicei Degen and Nana Goldberg who were facilitators of the cultural center building, an old fire station on Pearl Street. It housed elderly day care during the day and was open for rental at night,” Seager said. Seager applied for a grant from the Malden Arts Council and was awarded $250. This modest grant covered five months of once-a-week rental on the upstairs room in the cultural center. The artists each put in $5 per week to pay the model’s fee.
Rod Peterson joined the group in their new space. Even though he was a landscape painter, Rod knew that life drawing, traditional training for the great masters, was still good training for artists today. Eva Cincotta was teaching art classes in the basement of John’s Antiques and she was persuaded to join. Duker Bower, George Hansen and Judy Greulich were three more early important members.
Sketch Group has had four locations over the 25 years. When the Malden Redevelopment Authority took over the cultural center building on Pearl St., the city of Malden helped the group find new space, first in a parking garage and then in the Oak Grove Community Center. When Oak Grove closed, Preotle Lane & Associates saved the day by offering a meeting place in the basement of Commerce Place.
But through all the moves, the group has thrived.
The group’s weekly meetings are limited for now, but Malden Sketch Group will open up again. Even during this time of COVID-19, 21 members of the Malden Sketch Group will hold their annual visual art exhibit at Commerce Place, 350 Main St, Malden, from Sept. 1 until Oct. 30, open 9-5 Monday through Friday. Look for new works, including acrylic and watercolor paintings, prints, drawings and collage. Wear your mask and take a walk through the lobby and first floor and enjoy the show.
For info, contact Judy.Greulich@comcast.net,781-245-2337.
Sharon Santillo has been a member of the Malden Sketch Group since 2005.