(artscope is happy to introduce you to Lindsey Davis, who is serving an internship with us for the next three months. She’s well versed in covering the visual arts, having been writing her “things worth describing” blog in New York City while attending NYU. With the goal of fine-tuning her craft, she’ll be contributing to artscopemagazine.com with her observations and reviews of Boston area exhibitions and artists twice weekly in the months ahead.)
By Lindsey Davis
BOSTON, MA – Moving from New York to Boston, I wasn’t sure what to expect from the art scene here; I just knew I had been really spoiled before. But as I walked down Newbury Street for the first time, I was almost as overwhelmed as if I’d been on Manhattan’s West Side, and after a few hours of gallery hopping, my eyes and brain were worn out well past their art intake threshold.
The galleries blended seamlessly with the stores and salons that surrounded them, every display window competing visually for the passerby’s attention with music from restaurants and adorably dressed mannequins pushing out onto the sidewalk to lure you in. The galleries had the advantage of existing solely to exhibit aesthetics, and each one took up its own identity, branding itself as unique on the street.
As you walk away from the Boston Common, the galleries are clustered together within the center of four separate blocks before fading and flat lining after Fairfield Street. They almost seemed to team up against the stores that surrounded them, joining forces through strategic location and attempting to distinguish art from fashion as much as possible in a place where the lines are blurred and consumerism rules over aesthetic appreciation for its own sake.
The galleries that were closest to one another usually had the least in common, creating a fluid series of dichotomies down the street. The deep reds and harsh geometries of the Baroque-inspired Childs Gallery seemed the exact opposite of the DTR Modern Galleries next door, which showcased light, colorful selections from contemporary artists like Warhol.
The Arden Gallery featured the bright abstracted works of Nancy Natale’s collaged and nailed horizontal strips of color beside Paul Balmer’s roughened cityscapes — still colorful and organic-looking — but in a more concrete way. Next door to Arden is the Iris Gallery of Fine Art Photography, which materialized the abstraction into scenes and images that actually existed, combating Arden’s overuse of color by combining monochrome platinum prints with colored ones.
Perhaps most opposite in their approach was The Guild of Boston Artists and the Copley Society of Art two doors down. The Guild’s work could only be described as traditional — lots of landscapes and still lives done in what I learned was the Boston School style of painting. Executive Director Bill Everett explained how difficult it was to become a member, the need for recommendations and perfection in the work, and the prestige brought to the few artists who were accepted.
The Copley Society was the polar opposite. Its executive director, Suzan Redgate, spoke proudly of their upcoming New Members’ Show that is unique for its lack of requirements, judging each artist solely on the merit of his or her work. They were setting up and applying wall decals for the show that opened on January 12, and the diversity of the work was only matched by the diversity of the artists, which Suzan told me ranged in age from 25 to 70. Each of the 30 newly selected artists submitted three of their works, and one of those three was chosen for the exhibit, resulting in an exciting combination of figures, scenery and still lives done in 30 very distinct, different styles that mirrored the diversity of galleries on the street outside.