South End art scene exploring many themes

by Lauren DiTullio
Contributing Writer
Wednesday Feb 2, 2011

BCA, Kayafas, and Galatea offer range of shows

Boston Center for the Arts offers annual showing of resident artists

This Must Be The Place and SWAP MEET

Each year, Boston Center for the Arts (BCA) invites a guest curator to create a show from the work of BCA’s studio artists. This year, Emily Isenberg, a freelance curator who has worked with BCA before, was asked to "take on the task."

The result is This Must Be The Place and SWAP MEET, the two exhibitions in the BCA’s Mills Gallery. Isenberg conceived the project as an investigation into the artist’s creative process.

"I wanted to do a snapshot of what was going on in this building," she said. "We always focus on defining someone by the last thing they did ... I was very interested in trying to do a show about how they got there."

This Must Be The Place and SWAP MEET approach this process from different angles. David Brown, who is featured in This Must Be The Place, has a painting from the 1980’s and a current painting in the show, offering the viewer a chance to see the evolution of his work.

"It’s like stepping into a time machine and going back to that place," he said. "That was fun."

Stepping into the mind

Suzanne Merritt, also featured in This Must Be The Place, represents the creative process in a very different way. She sits at a desk made of her old journals as a part of the installation, signing copies of a book that does not yet exist. The pages are blank.

"The idea is that you are stepping into the writer’s mind," she said.

Meanwhile, David Reichert, featured in the SWAP MEET, spoke to the exhibition’s evocation of the collaborative process of being an artist.

"I’ve done everything from sit [as a model] for a painting, to holding an extra light for someone doing a photo shoot," he said. "Part of the process is giving and receiving help from your fellow artists."

Finding the value

Isenberg also focused on the concept of judgment in putting together the SWAP MEET.

"What gives a work value? Is it monetary? Is it what the critics say?" Isenberg said. "These artists are defining ... value by their willingness to swap with one another."

SWAP MEET will feature new artists coming into the gallery and installing pieces throughout the exhibition. The growth and change of the exhibit will be documented through social media, including a Tumblr blog at

Both exhibitions will be at the Mills Gallery at 539 Tremont St. through Feb. 27. A Families Connect workshop will take place on Saturday, Feb. 5 from 1 to 2:30 p.m. and 3 to 4:30 p.m. for parents and children who wish to unlock their inner artist. On Wednesday, Feb. 23 from 7 to 9 p.m. there will be a Dinner Swap at the gallery, where artists are invited to come together for a potluck.

Two worlds unite at Gallery Kayafas

Iconic Jazz

Arlette Kayafas, owner of Gallery Kayafas, has a longstanding tradition of juxtaposing new and old work in her gallery. Herb Snitzer’s "Glorious Days and Nights" and Harvey Loves Harvey’s "What Are We Doing?" do exactly that, pairing Snitzer’s photographs of jazz artists with the modern take on historic events afforded by the multimedia work of Harvey Loves Harvey.

Herb Snitzer has been photographing since the late 1950’s, and has produced iconic images of artists such as Miles Davis and Louis Armstrong, among others.

"The two mediums are just made for each other," he said. "Jazz and photography are the most significant art forms developed in the 20th century."

On the subject of history

Harvey Loves Harvey, a collaboration consisting of Boston’s Matthew Nash and Brooklyn’s Jason Dean, has focused their "What Are We Doing?" showcase on creating moments that are in many ways a nod to the type of history that is the subject of Snitzer’s work.

"We started putting together little moments where we could go to specific locations and play with their history," Nash said.

This "play" features a photograph of Dean and Nash smashing loaves of bread outside of a Trader Joe’s grocery store in New York City, located at the previous site of the Palladium Theater, a major venue that hosted The Clash in an iconic concert in the 1970’s. The exhibition also features videos and seven-inch albums created by Nash and Dean.

"Glorious Days and Nights" and "What Are We Doing?" will be at Kayafas Gallery, located at 450 Harrison Ave, until Feb. 26. Snitzer will be on hand signing his book, "Glorious Days and Nights: A Jazz Memoir" on Friday, Feb. 4, from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

George Shaw examines relationships with life and death

Musings on memorabilia

George Shaw’s "The Sentinel" at Galatea Fine Art is a show that is close to the heart of both the artist and his fiancĂ©e, Marjorie Kaye, the director of the gallery.

Shaw, who is a carpenter by trade, was heavily inspired by architecture. Shaw’s musings over mausoleums, and the memorabilia left by families at these sites sparked the project. As he began photographing, he also began to sculpt works that reflected the photography.

"I just started thinking about all the half-told stories," he said. "It really set me off."

The exhibition, Shaw said, seeks to reach past one’s personal religion and acknowledge "The Guardian" with which every mortal human cultivates a relationship. Some pieces are based on specific historical events or commemorative structures, such as a Holocaust memorial, while others represent smaller, less significant sites that nevertheless spoke to Shaw.

Watching Shaw’s work culminate in an exhibition has inspired Kaye, who referred to the show as "compelling and honest."

"As I’ve been watching these things happen, I believe that every piece has its own Guardian," she said. "They each tell a little piece of the whole story."

The Sentinel’s opening reception will take place at Galatea Fine Art at 450 Harrison Ave. #b6 Friday, Feb. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m. The show will run until Feb. 27.

Lauren DiTullio is a student in the School of Journalism at Northeastern University. Originally from Connecticut, she is happy to have landed in Boston, proud to be a Husky, and honored to be able to bring her lifelong passion for writing to the South End’s vibrant community.


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