By Seth Daniel
It was through the Chelsea Record newspaper that Ann Crotty and artist Joe Greene met – a combination that would eventually produce the Chelsea Art Walk and Charcoll Arts Group.
Crotty, who passed away last month, will bear the honorary name tagged onto this year’s 2016 Chelsea Art Walk, organizers said last week.
“After reading the December 2004 front page story about my relaunch of the Pearl Street Gallery and that I was ‘hopeful that some day Chelsea will host an Open Studios event,’ she picked up the phone and called,” said Joe Greene of the Pearl Street Gallery. “She said, ‘Hello, my name is Ann Crotty and I would like to stop by and tell you all about a Chelsea artists group I was a part of.’ How could I refuse? Ann hopped on a bus and came by Pearl Street with a stack of papers, flyers and literature from a lively group of artists in the 1990s she was a part of. As rents increased, those artists had to move out and the group disintegrated. Ann convinced me that this time we could make it work.”
From there, Crotty teamed up with Greene and they reached out to the Chelsea City Cafe and the Spencer Lofts. In November 2007, with the addition of John Kennard to the team of Crotty and Greene, the first group show took form – called ‘Made in Chelsea’ – and showed at two different venues at one time.
“The show was such a success, that as a group we decided to continue as Charcoll (Chelsea Artists Collaborative ) and to have our next event in the spring of 2009, the Chelsea Art Walk,” said Greene. “It’s safe to say there might not be a Charcoll without Ms. Crotty. This first Chelsea Art Walk was ambitious and included nine or so venues all over town. Ann found us volunteers and bus greeters to guide our visitors around the city. As the years went by, Ann was an active Charcoll member and attended nearly every Art Walk meeting with a smile and a story. We will miss her.”
With that spirit, Charcoll has dedicated this year’s Walk – which takes place on June 11 and 12 – to the memory of Ann Crotty.
Long-time contributing playwright Bob Boulrice said he came to annually present his work at the Art Walk via being a bus driver.
“Ann recruited me as a bus driver,” he said. “That’s what brought me to Art Walk. It wasn’t the artists or the fact that it’s the second best day in Chelsea every year, but it was really hearing the people on the buses talk about the positive things they had experienced that drew me in. There were so many people who hadn’t been here in many years. It was cool.”
He said with the encouragement of Crotty, he began to toy with the idea of writing a play to be acted out at Apollinaire Theatre every year. Now, he’s been doing that for seven years.
“This year’s Art Walk is dedicated in appreciation of Ann Crotty and it’s so fitting,” said Boulrice. “She was just a regular, vibrant presence who was consistently positive and was dedicated. She really was the best of the Old Chelsea and the New Chelsea.”
Crotty passed away on April 20.