By Barbara Bausch
Soon after I had moved to Jamaica Plain from Berlin and started to explore the neighborhood, I was drawn into a shop on South Street where I could see nice stationary, handmade books and accessories arranged on a table in the middle of the room. Once inside, I realized I had entered a gallery and was immediately pleased by the relaxed atmosphere it had which distinguished it from the sterile, white-wall-chic atmosphere that high end galleries often have. I knew that this was a place I would come back to, where I could have a look at local artists’ work on the walls and photo books on the table, while listening to quiet music.
Only one block away, entering the Hallway Gallery – as one can already guess from the name – visitors find themselves in a tiny, narrow room with a warm atmosphere: turquoise walls and a beautiful 18th-century ceiling give it that certain something. If you have time, take a close look at the well-chosen selection of used books in the corner.
In case you want to chat with the young and energetic owner, Brent Refsland, about art, design, and living in Boston, you have to go next door, where he opened a furniture store focusing on 21st century design. Much like the Aviary Gallery, Refsland uses the exhibition space as a venue for events such as drawing get-togethers, small concerts, and readings — primarily of local artists.
Together, these galleries are having first Thursdays with opening receptions of their monthly changing shows. The owners say that they want people to stroll around the neighborhood, get ice-cream, see art, connect and have a good time. It is not only about showing art at very friendly and accessible galleries, but about building up a open art community in Jamaica Plain with the mission to interconnect people as well as art and life.