Through the UMass Lowell Intern program, I was very lucky to be placed at CASE for the spring semester. I’m originally from Connecticut, so being placed in the cultural and special event hub of Lowell was a blessing as I was eager to familiarize myself with all that Lowell has to offer. In my research of Lowell through premiers in the theater, calming galleries, and funky desserts in the downtown district, these are the aspects of the city with a lot to like that I liked the most.
Museums & The Arts
Beautiful indoor architecture—I viewed the portion of the house in which Whistler himself used to reside. I remember entering the house and immediately being greeted at the door with a pleasant smile. The formal nature of the renovated home reminded me of a smaller version of the Newport mansions, in which the history and rich architectural beauty makes for the most calming experience. What I enjoyed the most was that each room in the house and each floor as well, had a different aesthetic. One room maintained James Whistler’s office area, while another room was turned into an art studio for artists to have a free space to create.
Following my visit to the Whistler House, I met up with a friend to see the works at the New England Quilt Museum. Visiting this site directly after the Whistler House made for an astonishing dichotomy of historical versus contemporary art pieces. While NEQM did display quilts made for bedframes hundreds of years ago, what struck me the most was the second floor exhibit. NEQM features certain themed quilt installations, and I visited when there was an exhibit on gun control. While this was a powerful and somewhat somber portion of my visit, observing how people took to their needles to showcase their imaginative nature quickly brightened up the rainy day that I visited.
Food & Drink
Coffee & Cotton was one of the few places I had visited before starting my internship with CASE. However, I typically went there to do homework with friends instead of diving in to what the menu had to offer. Since Coffee & Cotton was a part of the “Good and Good for You” section on my post, it was only right that I tried the healthy matcha latte. The rich, earthy flavor of the matcha paired with the warm steamed milk was absolutely heavenly. The latte was the perfect solution to having a sweet yet healthy drink to pair with work. I couldn’t stop at just a drink purchased, so I later ordered one of Coffee & Cotton’s classic grilled cheeses on sourdough bread. The gooey cheese sandwiched within the crunchy sourdough made for the tastiest lunch I’d had in a while.
Unfortunately as timing had it this semester, I was unable to physically attend any of the events offered at the various theaters I had written about. I felt the greatest connection with local theaters such as Merrimack Reparatory Theater and Image Theater, and I anticipate attending their upcoming shows. A recent show exhibited playwright Lauren Gunderson’s life story and turned it into a musical-esque performance with instruments including a banjo. In my further research of upcoming plays, I am anxious to attend one of the group’s performances as they blend such unparalleled themes, instruments, and experiences.
I also found Image Theater to be one of the most interesting theater groups I had the pleasure to write about. I spoke with directors Jerry Bisantz and Ann Garvin in order to learn more about their community theater group. What I learned from my correspondence with the two leaders is that they are clearly passionate about the theater and bringing local artists to center stage. Ann had fabulously described the group as a “little travelling theater company”, as their productions are staged at various spots in Lowell. Like MRT, Image Theater has unique performances, and even some festivals like the Femme Film Festival, that I’m happy I was exposed to and look forward to attending.
Sights & Learning Experiences
As the weather warmed, I was excited to go on a photography mission to capture Lowell atop three garage rooftops. What I found particularly interesting during this experience was how viewing the city from above perfectly showed how the city has built itself up while also preserving pieces of its past. The best example of this was seeing how old mill buildings were transformed into spaces where people could work and live. It’s neat to live in a city that chose to be independent from the typical skyscraper look.
As another one of my assignments outside of the office, I went to Pollard Memorial Library to use the microfiche machine for a possible newsletter post. While the information we thought might be of interest didn’t materialize I discovered the library’s beautiful murals decorating the interior from ceiling to floor. There was so much history here.
The annual event of Winterfest proved to be a haven for meeting new people and experiencing new tastes, sounds, and overall fun. The hype for the soup competition was accompanied with a “mile-long” line out the door, and they were some of the best soups I’ve ever tasted. People of all ages with ginormous smiles warmed me up on that winter day, and I was blessed to meet each and every one of them.