It’s another First Friday, 6 p.m., and the clouds are finally lifting to liberate the sinking sun’s pale gleams. Since Covid arrived, I’ve rarely visited SoWa except briefly and alone. Now, on June 4, 2021, I’m fully vaccinated and ready to risk a crowd in Boston’s South End. Clad in sneakers and studio jeans, I trail a stylishly shod, light-skinned woman in long black culottes and a three-quarter-sleeve charcoal silk jacket down the steps into Beacon Gallery.
Two women holding glasses of Chardonnay are chatting with gallerist Christine O’Donnell. Four others inspect the fresh summer light of Lori Mehta’s oil paintings. I feel for my mask and cross to a safer corner. A headless torso there impresses me just as it did two months earlier, when I interviewed Mehta at her Cape Cod studio. Crisply framed by the chill Atlantic waters and a corner of cerulean sky, the white shirt, warmed by the sunset, embeds a pair of eloquent hands touching fingers to palm. It’s not the subject-matter that transfixes but the violet, rabbit-like shadow balancing its mass.