You Know They Are Here . . . Now Get to Know Them.

Lowell has become a city of artists.

From Western Avenue Studios to the Appleton Mills; the Brush Art Gallery to the Whistler House, the population of creatives painting, sculpting, photographing, writing, and doing everything in between has exploded over the last few years.

But, what do you know about these fascinating creatures? What inspires them? Who has influenced their work? Where did they come from? What is the real story of the life of an artist? Are they really all starving?

A new documentary series from Subes Acharya, his wife Soumita Acharya and Peter Tsaklis from Lowell Telecommunications Corp, sheds some light on all of those questions and more.

The first episode of  “Artists of Lowell: Their Stories” focuses on Debra Bretton Robinson ( and Rachel Kowalik (, who both have studio space at Western Avenue Studios.

The medium of choice for Bretton Robinson, who studied at the New England School of Art and Design and the Massachusetts College of Art, is acrylics on canvas.

Influenced by the work of Matisse, Edward Hopper and a group of turn of the 20th century Canadian artists known as The Seven, she uses bright vibrant colors in her work. Her cityscapes are captivating, optimistic and whimsically quiet; there are no people, just the suggestion they may be around. A light here, a car there.

Back Bay by Debra Bretton Robinson

When she is not painting at WAS, the Chelmsford resident can be found teaching art at the Franco American School or at downtown Lowell wine shop Tutto Bene as part of their The Art of Wine series.

Kowalik, a graduate of the Maine College of Art, prefers to work in bright oil paints accented by metallic leaf. Her work, heavily focused on abstract aerial landscapes, is influenced by the myriad of location she has called home.

Bangor-Brewer, Maine by Rachel Kowalik

Growing up as the daughter of an exploration geologist for the world’s largest gold mining company, she found herself in a new home every couple of years. From Maine to Spain, Peru to Nevada.

Her influences are just as international. Kowalik caught the art bug after attending a show of Spanish artists in Peru as a teen; today, she is intrigued by contemporary Australian Aboriginal artists.

“Artists of Lowell: Their Stories” will be shown on LTC every Thursday at 8 p.m. and every Saturday at 11 a.m. for the next four weeks. Methuen cable access is also broadcasting the same show every Wednesday at 10:30 p.m. and Friday at 5:30 p.m.

It can also be viewed on YouTube at:

Subes Acharya said the purpose of the series is to help the artists market themselves both in and outside of the city and to serve as a learning tool for young people who are considering an art career.

The series is part of an effort spearheaded by the Acharyas and assisted by Tsaklis to “rebrand” Lowell and erase some of the inaccurate negative perceptions of today’s Lowell.

Last year, the Acharyas were house shopping. They were dissuaded by colleagues, friends and even real estate agents from looking in Lowell. They were told it was dirty and not safe.

Following a visit to Lowell to bring their young daughter to the circus, they began to look around. They liked what they saw and purchased a condo.

The perception of their new culturally diverse, historically and architecturally rich home as a rowdy, crime and drug infested city did not sit well with the new Lowellians. They are working to erase that perception, and rebrand the city as a place for families, art, culture and business, the best way they know how – through documentary film.

It is a non-profit labor of love, their way of giving back to their adopted hometown; the city in which they will raise their daughter.

In addition to the artist profiles, they are also working on a larger documentary project focused on highlighting the evolution and successes of Lowell over the last five years.

For more information contact Subes Acharya at 508-395-6379 or by email at

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