Passion and dedication
Even before Kathy Bitetti moved to South Boston way back 21 years ago, there was a connection to Southie. The close knit and somewhat small artist community, as well as the fact South Boston is surrounded by water, pulled Kathy in that direction from her childhood home of Quincy to make Southie her new hometown. "The ocean seems to be in my blood as my mom’s dad was U.S Marine and a longshoreman in Boston. I also went to college by the ocean (UMass Boston). As a kid, my parents often took me to Castle Island. I have very fond memories of the old kangaroo in the playground by the fort." So in 1991, Kathy signed her first lease with the zip code of 02127 and has been an active member of the community ever since. Kathy is a practicing visual artist, public policy expert and a curator. She currently is the Chief Curator at Medicine Wheel Production on K Street.
Just the facts:
- She graduated from UMass Boston with a BA in both Economics (with a specialization in Public Policy) and Art (art history & studio)
- Kathy help found the Annual Artists Under the Dome event at the Massachusetts State House as well as www.healthcareforartists.org, & www.artistsunderthedome.org
- She is the co-founder of the Massachusetts Artists Leaders Coalition, the Artists Health Care Working Group and the State House Artists Working Group
- In January of 2012, she was appointed by Governor Patrick to the State’s Creative Economy Council.
- In March of 2012 she is curated a two person show of work by Southie’s own Dan McCole and Brian Reardon at the Distillery Gallery in Boston.
- She has a monthly column in Caught in Southie - Got Art?
Think outside the your comfort zone, is what Kathy proposes to the budding artists and art lovers at Medicine Wheel. "Art in all it's forms moves and challenges kids (and adults for that matter) to be introspective, to think outside their comfort zone, and to critically think for themselves," say Kathy. Medicine Wheel is a place where art and community happen on a daily basis. "Medicine Wheel has a great youth program, great adult programs, you name it Medicine Wheel has it- free poetry readings, film screenings and a contemporary gallery to boot!" On Friday evening through August, Medicine Wheel hosts a special night of entertainment for community members of all ages called Taking Back the Hill at No Man's Land (at Thomas Park.) For more information visit http://mwponline.org/wordpress/?page_id=1590
Kathy believes that South Boston has an amazing art organization that helps to build a strong community. "The South Boston Arts Association, the South Boston Literary Gazette and the Fort Point Arts Community, Medicine Wheel, all our cultural organizations help build and keep our community strong." Getting involved in such a foundation of South Boston is as easy as attending a free opening or art event says Kathy. "There is so much great stuff happening in our two zip codes (02127 and 02210). Don't be shy and introduce yourself!"
There are four contemporary galleries in South Boston and five in Fort Point not including the ICA on the waterfront.
Q&A with Kathy
Favorite spot in Southie?
Anywhere along the beaches/Castle Island/ocean waterfront.
Favorite restaurant in Southie?
ICA or MFA?
I used to sneak into Boston as kid and go to the free nights at the ICA and the MFA. We are so lucky to have so many great museums in Boston. I do get to the ICA more than the MFA due to the ICA being in the neighborhood.
Insider tips to offer Southie?
We have an amazing artist community that is based in our two zip codes. This makes it easier for someone to start a great art collection without having a ton of money. The ICA is free on Thursday nights.
My Southie food tips: The K & 8th Street Deli has the best fresh meat and fish anywhere, one can get great Polish food items in Andrew Square (I am second generation Polish so this was well known in our family), canollis from Joseph's rock, and at Millers on K & 7th you can buy singles (beers).
Best piece of advice you were ever given:
I have two: 1.) Learn from yours and other’s mistakes and try not to repeat them 2.) Always remember to thank people
Favorite thing about living in Southie:
I really love Halloween in Southie- it is old school trick or treating- like what I had as a kid.
Least favorite thing about living in Southie:
The parking - eventhough I don’t have a car! The lack of visitor parking makes it hard for folks to come and visit (or at least this is what they say…)
Tea Talks with Kathy
I am currently serving on the State’s Creative Economy Council (it is an unpaid position) and I am holding conversation hours in every Friday afternoon in August from 2 to 4pm at the State House’s 4th Floor cafe and on Saturday August 11th from 1 to 5pm at Gallery Kayafas in the South End.
Tea and my homemade banana bread* will be served. At these gatherings I am collecting people’s thoughts and suggestions about the creative economy, and other issues such as health care reform, intellectual property policy, artists issues etc. All who attend get a small memento.
Here are links to the FB event pages for the two events:
http://www.facebook.com/events/415863975126545/ (State House)
http://www.facebook.com/events/327495700675441/ (Gallery Kayafas)
*For references if my homemade banana bread is any good- ask the banana bread aficionados at the Firehouse on East 4th Street (as I often drop off loaves for them).
Kathy is spark plug of energy. Her dedication for not only the advocacy for the artist community but the community of South Boston as a whole, makes Kathy a valuable ally. Whether she is walking Castle Island, stopping by the firehouse to drop off some baked goods, or attending a community meeting, Kathy always has a smile and warm hello. With a fiery passion and genuine love in her heart, she is working on making the world a better place and we are happy she is our neighbor.