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“Don’t I know you…?”

Dena Haden and Haskell Public Gardens staff installing 'Maps & Legends'

Dena Haden and Haskell Public Gardens staff installing ‘Maps & Legends’.

The connections you make in life can sometimes be as profound as they are unexpected. On the first day I ever walked into Groundwork! – over a year ago when it was upstairs at 1213 Purchase Street in its beta space – I met co-founder Dena Haden. Or, actually met her again.

I walked in and Dena introduced herself – but I felt as if I knew her. Sure enough, within a minute we discovered the previous connection.

Dena had gone on the New Bedford Open Studios in 2014. I had only shortly been back in the city and jumping right in, had volunteered to work the door for The Ropeworks at the suggestion of artist Tracy Silva Barbosa.

Artists must instinctively sense each other because I immediately struck up a conversation with Dena and we chatted about the New Bedford art scene and the Open Studios tour. Her comments were astute and enthusiastic and very much a reflection of her great nature.

And that was it, until I walked into what I call the center of gravity here in New Bedford, Groundwork!, one day and soon asked, “Don’t I know you…?”

That’s the type of place Groundwork! – and New Bedford – is. It’s multi-faceted enough that an artist like Dena can also be the co-founder of a co-working facility. But small enough that the artist you meet by chance on an Open Studios tour can become a fantastic colleague and wonderful friend.

That story is typical of many people in the Groundwork! orbit – and a big reason why I call it the center of gravity here. Something about this place ensures that you make the connections you need to pursue a meaningful existence in proper context – full of like-minded friends and associates.

This week, Dena and I are part of a multi-artist installation and gallery show at Haskell Public Gardens called “Maps & Legends.” It features a dozen artists and opens Friday night at 5:00 p.m. with a free, open to the public reception at this bucolic oasis located at 787 Shawmut Avenue in New Bedford. (You can read more about it here.)

The show is very much the result of so many like-minded spirits making unexpected connections and pursuing their positive, expansive dreams in and for the City of New Bedford. It’s very much about seizing the sudden opportunities that life throws your way when first two, then three, then four, then more people meet by chance and find cause to ask, “Don’t I know you…?”

Come meet us all this Friday. We’d love to get to know you.

Steven Froias