Category Archives: Art

Dorchester Children’s Book: Jack & Olive

… by Bekki

“What a beautiful book.”

Dorchester Resident Abbie Wanamaker's 2nd Book

Dorchester Resident Abbie Wanamaker’s 2nd Book

Last week I had the pleasure of meeting a fellow artist, mother, educator and book arts enthusiast.  Abbie Wanamaker and I have a lot in common, and we were supposed to be discussing her current Kickstarter campaign for Jack & Olive, but I ended up being completely distracted by the sample of her 2nd children’s book.   An amazing combination of Dorchester photography, illustration and collage, it was a delightful and elegant work of art … and I couldn’t take my eyes off of it.

For those of you new to Kickstarter, the website is a platform for creative people like Abbie who have a project to fund.  In this case, Abbie is not looking for a profit, she simply loves the idea of people reading her book, which is a thoughtful commentary on the importance of friendship.  Sponsors — like you perhaps? — can log onto Kickstarter, pledge $25 (which is the cost of printing each book at Acme Bookbinding in Somerville), and then as rewards, receive a hardbound signed copy of her book, as well as an invitation to the Jack & Olive signing party.

Her campaign for the limited printing of  Jack & Olive ends at 3pm on April 3rd, and Abbie’s dream is 87% funded.  If you are a lover of children’s books, owls named Olive, boys named Jack, or a just fan of supporting a local Fields Corner artist, then make a pledge and get a book.  Speaking from experience, you won’t be able to take your eyes off of it!

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also on Facebook:

It’s Gettin’ Hot in Here …


(photo courtesy of:

( … but please refrain doing what’s called for in the next line of the song if you’re in public reading this; k? Thanks!)

Following on the heels of last week’s announcement by 24/7 Wallstreet that Dorchester is ranked #5 on the list of the 10 Hottest Up-and-Coming Neighborhoods in the USA, an article further waxing poetic about its awesomeness was just published by Design New England and is available on

We are so happy that Dot is FINALLY starting to get the respect, attention and press it deserves!



WHAT: Antique Dorchester Pottery Works slipware mugs and plates (in business from 1895-1979 and located at 101-105 Victory Rd.)

WHERE: Dark Horse Antiques in Lower Mills

HOW MUCH: $20.00 – $30.00 depending on the piece

FOR: Anyone who wants an authentic piece of Dorchester’s historic arts community

Dorchester Pottery



WHAT: Hand-blown glass ornaments, paperweights, vases and dishes made by local teenagers from the Bird Street Community Center. The kids also determine each piece’s pricing as well as handle the marketing and sales components of their artwork.

WHERE: Bird Street Community Center  or contact  Assistant Director of Operations Paulo Barros via email ( to find out the studio’s hours and dates of other craft shows where they’ll be displaying their wares.

HOW MUCH: Prices range depending on the piece. Paperweights from $5-10, ornaments from $15-25 and vases from $25-50.

FOR: Your decor-loving sister with champagne taste (and you and your beer budget.)

$25 hand-blown glass vase by the students at Bird Street Community Center

$25 hand-blown glass vase by the students at Bird Street Community Center (bought as a gift but it may end up being part of the permanent collection around here … so gorgeous!)

The Bridge

… Dotted by Leslie 

When my husband and I moved to Dorchester eight years ago, we came across a painting of the the bridge near Adam’s Village. We swore to one another that someday we’d buy that painting. As my husband’s birthday approached this past weekend, I found myself in a panic to find the ‘perfect gift’. We’ve been together for 16 birthdays, so naturally, I’m running out of ideas. But then I remembered that painting and through some super-sleuth detective work ( aka Google) I found Vincent Crotty; a Dorchester-based Irish-born landscape and figurative painter. Vincent graciously informed me that the painting in question had long since been sold. However, he happened to have a smaller painting of the same bridge that he’d be willing to finish and frame for me in time for our celebration.

‘The Bridge’, as it now appears in our dining room … does anyone know it’s name?


Vincent Crotty

Eye Candy: Boston Watercolor Map

… Dotted by Leslie

My husband is a map collector … I think we might need to add this one to our growing collection.

“I’d like to generate map tiles that give you that same dizzy feeling you get when you look down at a city at night, from an airplane. We’ve spent so long fussing over the relentless details in cartography that we’ve sort of forgotten what things (should) look like at a distance. “ – Arron Straup Cope.

prettymaps (boston) by Aaron Straup Cope courtesy of 20 x 200

For The OFD In Your Life…Dorchester Blankets & Mapkins

…Dotted by Leslie

Each week when I receive New York Magazine in the mail, the first thing I do is flip to the back of the issue to read the Approval Matrix which the Editors describe as, “Our deliberately oversimplified guide to who falls where on our taste hierarchies.” The Matrix always makes me laugh and has led me to great books, music, art, cool new products and yes, sometimes hilarious YouTube videos.

New York Magazine’s Approval Matrix

It was a recent Matrix that  led  me to the Soft Cities website while checking out a really cool map company, Stamen Design.  I haven’t made a Soft Cities purchase yet, but I’m coveting the CandyMap Blanket  for my own pint-sized OFDs (Originally From Dorchester) and wouldn’t the Mapkins make a lovely Dot Mama’s Mother’s Day Gift?? (hint, hint)

How about an OTB (Over The Bridge) Savin Hill blanket? Or Jones Hill napkins?  The ideas are endless …

The folks at Soft Cities will take a map of your favorite neighborhood (you simply give them the street address) and turn it into a cozy fleece (recycled) blanket  or 100% Kona cotton table napkins. You can feel good about this purchase too since the  printing is completely green: no toxic chemicals in the printing process, nor do they produce waste water.




Prices range from $65 – $175


… Dotted by Leslie

I’m packing for a trip to the lovely Eco Venao in Panama where I will meet up with friends; get reacquainted with a hammock; finally finish The Hunger Games series; drink local beer and at times be without electricity, forcing me to cut off completely from the outside world. At least for 10 days. Ahhhh … time to breathe.

This trip comes at a time when I happen to need it the very most. Let me plead my case:

Exhibit A: My husband suffered a herniated disc four weeks ago and has been in recovery ever since. Sure, I know, it wasn’t ME who suffered the injury, but it’s been awful watching him try to go about his daily routine clearly in agony with every step. Fortunately a cortisone shot and some physical therapy have him patched up enough to board a plane with me and the kids for our first family vacation in over two years.

Exhibit B: My son has been demonstrating that the age of TWO is mighty and fierce and he will NOT be buckled into his car seat without a fight. He will NOT. (I’m eager to see how the Flight Attendants handle this little guy…)

Exhibit C: Our family  has been cranked  through the heart-wrenching Boston Public School lottery process this spring, coming out on the other side with two good options, but still with heavy decisions to be made.

Exhibit D: My many projects and life responsibilities are weighing on the ole’ noggin as the emails pile up unanswered in my Inbox. It’s not pretty. I always *think* I can do it all …

The final piece of evidence on this sad case came tonight at bedtime when my four year old daughter looked up at me and said, ‘Mom, why are you and Dad acting so old?’.



Earlier today I received an email from Exhale magazine Publisher, Sandra Casagrand, telling me that the Spring Issue featuring an article I photographed and wrote on DottieHotties collaborator, Meghann Van Dorn, has finally published. I’m so grateful to Sandra for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to the pages of her outstanding publication dedicated to the educated, talented and inspiring women who live full lives in Greater Boston. And doesn’t it seem fitting that Exhale will be in my carry-on this week as I retreat to breathe and possibly figure out how to live a fuller life myself!

The cover of Exhale magazine’s Spring issue with Linda Piuzzuti Henry on the cover

Snapshot of article on fellow DottieHottie and Interior Designer extraordinaire, Meghann Van Dorn in Exhale magazine

Up Close with UnHappy Hipster’s Jenna Talbott

…Photographed and Dotted By Leslie

It was a swanky party at The Boston Design Center  that brought Jenna Talbott into my world. I was busy being pleased that there was a sushi bar and hefty looking swag bags when I bumped into one of my favorite people, Steve Twombly, Publisher for Design New England magazine. We chatted for a while until he spotted his colleague, Jenna, then the acting Art Director for DNE magazine. He introduced us and I was immediately taken in with her  warm smile and contagious laugh.

Since that first meeting, I’ve been laughing at her witty captions underneath photographs from Dwell magazine on her blog, UnHappy Hipsters, that she co-founded with writer Molly Jane Quinn. One viral bloggers-dream-day and a book deal later, Jenna quietly resides in Adams Village, which is where I caught up with her one unusually warm spring day as she rotated a ‘Death Star‘ composter in the garden. Take a peek into the life and times of this artist, blogger and avid gardener in the next installment in our Up Close series.

Jenna Talbott, UnHappy Hipsters founder and blogger and Illustrator of It’s Lonely In The Modern World 
(See what I mean about that smile?)

I’ve been a fan of UnHappy Hipsters for a while now and didn’t realize that you were the driving force behind it. Why did you start the blog?

Unhappy Hipsters started when my co-founder Molly Jane Quinn and I decided that the people in Dwell magazine were looking increasingly miserable. It became a game to imagine their depressing life scenarios, which of course contrasted — though sometimes complimented– their very carefully designed homes. We blogged anonymously until our book published last fall because we realized pretty quickly that nobody cared who we were (or they enjoyed guessing who might have a bone to pick with Dwell) and that our audience had more of a personal connection to the posts if the authors were unidentified. We sensed we were putting into words what everyone was already thinking about Dwell, that these homes were becoming more and more inhabitable, and more and more out of reach for the average design enthusiast.

How did the blog evolve into a book?

Though we never imagined our silly captions would become a book, the blog-to-book idea came about rather quickly. Because of the popularity of the blog—which was instant, within twelve hours we had gone viral—we were contacted by agents eager to connect us and our captive audience with a publisher. Once we decided on an agent, we were instructed to put together a proposal that outlined how our content would translate into a book. Molly and I drew upon our experience in magazines to craft a multi-sectioned, illustrated gift book that would not only showcase our custom-captioned Dwell photography, but also elaborate on the design decisions key to the elusive Unhappy Hipster. The resulting book, It’s Lonely in the Modern World, is almost exactly how Molly and I conceived of it back when we put together the proposal. We were really lucky to work with an editor at Chronicle Books that encouraged us to make the book we wanted.

In Jenna’s studio, some of her illustrations from It’s Lonely In The Modern World

What were some of the challenges you faced in getting the book published?

Once we determined the angle of our book, the challenges that remained were mainly logistics: creating the enormous amount of original content and finding a photographer with a wealth of imagery that could grant us permission to use the images the way we do on the blog. We were very fortunate to connect with California-based photographer Dave Lauridsen, who did a lot of shoots for Dwell, but also seemed to share our sense of humor. All the ‘case studies’ in our book are from his stock files and all the homeowners agreed to being lightly, but respectfully, chided by our captions.

What’s your day job?

I currently work for Boston University’s in-house creative agency, designing alumni magazines.

Favorite pizza in Dorchester? Favorite Restaurants?

We don’t have a favorite pizza but we do like takeout from Shanti or Pho 2000. We plan to try Pho Le and Van Shabu one of these days and we liked Savin Bar + Kitchen on our first visit recently. In the meantime, the bar at Tavolo is our favorite place to meet after work.

Why Dorchester?

My husband and I have lived in Dorchester for 5 years and we have a very happy routine here. Its nice to come home to a quiet neighborhood but still have easy access to downtown Boston and work via the red line. It’s super nice being close to the highway, too. I really love the bike path between Pope John Paul II park and Lower Mills along the Neponset.

Frank Gehry or Philippe Starck?

Not really a fan of either. Is that surprising? I’ve always been a bit uninterested, or perhaps clueless, to the hot shot designers du jour. First of all, how does one keep up? I have a lot of respect for architecture and design and while I learned so much as art director of Design New England magazine, and working on the book with Molly, none of it has changed the way I decorate my home. I’m more of a bargain shopper and would rather customize something cheap from a yard sale or found on the sidewalk on garbage day. Yup, I’m a trash-picker.

Have you found any gems at Dorchester’s yard sales?

The neighborhood yard sales are pretty amazing. I have a stack of gorgeous fabrics I found one year (still haven’t done anything with them) and my husband found an Andrew Wyeth print that I love.


Want more of Jenna? Then check out her awesome interview in the New York Times.