Summer is over, galleries are coming out of hibernation, and haphazardly thrown together group shows are coming down to make way for more interesting fall programming. No more procrastinating, it’s officially time to re-engage with the (art)world and get to work in the studio.

In general, my inclination is to explore. I like to travel, and whenever I get to a new place, my first instinct is to walk around, say hello to strangers, and just see where luck takes me. On the other hand, when it comes to art, I have come to realize that I am stuck in an ever shrinking bubble. As I refine my own ideas, I have become increasingly interested in seeing related work – at the expense of exposing myself to a variety of ideas.

It is becoming a problem.

It’s becoming a problem because I know that if I put my preconceptions aside and open myself up to different ideas, if I approach art in the same way I would approach other explorations, I will come out the other end a better person for it.

With all that in mind I have decided to visit as many exhibitions as possible this winter. Boston has a relatively small community of galleries, museums, and other art spaces. There is no reason (other than apathy) that I can’t see 90% of what happens here. So, this winter I am going to do just that.

I can find the museums and mainstream galleries. But If you organize a pop up show, please let me know. If you are running a gallery out of your living room, please invite me over. If there is an interesting alternative space that I might not know about, please reach out. Seriously. I want to engage with as much art as I can, and to keep myself honest, I am going to write a little bit about everything I see.

To start things off, a rundown of everything I managed to see last Friday. Organized in the order that I visited.

It Can’t Rain All The Time

Solo exhibition of recent work by Anthony Palocci jr.

How’s Howard

I always make How’s Howard the first stop when I visit the galleries in the South End. This spot has been putting together great shows since day one, but when I saw the kitschy macho imagery of Anthony’s new paintings, my first reaction was negative. This is a perfect example of why I need to slow down and listen, instead of jumping to conclusions. The paintings felt incredibly honest and sensitive, despite my pre-judgements. The pieces are small, beautifully painted, and they really do a nice job of examining the burden of simple moments. Nice work, it played with my preconceptions and brought me somewhere interesting. Definitely worth a visit.

Reconfigure

Featuring work by Lavaughan Jenkins and Ariel Basson Freiberg

Abigail Ogilvy Gallery

I was pretty excited to check out Lavaughan Jenkins’ pieces in this show. I really enjoyed his paintings at Kingston Gallery last spring, and the leap to three dimensional work seems like a logical one for a painter employing so much texture. The sculptures did not disappoint, as they managed nicely translate the energy and feel of the two dimensional pieces. That said, the sculptures (3D paintings?) didn’t seem like fully realized pieces of art. Instead, it felt like this was the next step towards something greater. Looking forward to see where Lavaughan goes next with this. Very cool.

Similarly, Ariel Basson Freiberg’s paintings felt somewhat incomplete for me. Interesting explorations, but the concepts hit me with a heavy hand, and the execution did not seem fully resolved. Is my instinct to over work the shit out of every painting clouding my judgement here? Maybe the paintings would have worked at small scale, but there just wasn’t enough information to fill the large canvases. Would love to hear from anyone who had a different experience with these pieces.

–update–
For anyone looking for another take on this show, and a more favorable look at Ariel Basson Freiberg’s work in particular;
check out this piece on Big Red & Shiny.

Thisness

Work by Angela A’Court

GalleryBOM

Still life drawings, simply rendered in pastel. I have to admit that it takes a lot to get me excited about still life painting at this point, but these images are fairly striking, and they grabbed my attention as I walked by. The bold flattened compositions and earthy tones worked together to create something that commanded a second look. On closer inspection though, the texture of the soft pastels is just too much of a turn off for me.

First Light

Paintings by Bernard Chaet

Alpha Gallery

I had the exact opposite experience here, than I had next door at GalleryBOM. These pieces were all about the texture, all about the beautiful application of paint for me. The compositions were somewhat dry from a distance, but the closer I looked the more I was pulled in by the siren song of the energetic brushwork. Strangely, when I stepped back and looked at the show as a whole, it appeared to be painted by 2 or 3 different artists (each of which was heavily influenced by some other, more famous artist). I don’t know anything about this painter, but I would guess he is probably a well-respected professor who has spent too much time with his students absorbing historic paintings.

Brian Zink

Miller Yezerski Gallery

Whenever I walk into a show of work that is super clean and minimal like this, I feel like the art is judging me. It seems to smirk, “You could never be this tasteful Nick, what are you painting Master P album covers?” I don’t know, It just isn’t my thing.

I couldn’t find any information about the show, or any current images of the work on the galleries website, so I just grabbed an image of a random piece. Maybe they are still on summer vacation?

Also at Miller Yezerski: more Ariel Basson Freiberg?

I don’t understand why two galleries within spitting distance are showing the same artist at the same time. Is this the best that Boston can do? I was a little hard on her paintings before, so I want to be clear that this shouldn’t be taken as a shot at her. But really. Seriously though. There are what… 20(?) galleries in Boston? And I am looking at the same art in two of them on the same night?

Wholly Idle

Sean Downey

Steven Zevritas Gallery

Large scale paintings. Bright colors. Exploring the role of photography, film, imagery in our society. This show has everything I normally like, but it just didn’t connect for me. Maybe I was just running out of steam after visiting a handful of other shows. I don’t know but this just didn’t do it for me. I will have to go back for a second look with fresh eyes.

Immigrancy

Samson Projects

A show about immigrants, refugees, expats. By the only gallery in town that could pull it off. I saved this show for last, because I expected a compelling experience and I wanted to finish my night on a high note. Then I walked in the door, picked up the information sheet, and was greeted by the news that this would be Samson’s final show.

I honestly had a hard time even focusing on the show. This is one of the few spaces left in Boston that is consistently putting on interesting, engaging, and challenging exhibitions. While the people behind this gallery will undoubtedly still be doing great work, the Boston art world will be worse off without this space.

In any case, it was cool to see the work of local folks hanging next to some international big name. In retrospect, this show feels like a bit of resume. This is what Samson does, don’t forget us, we will be back. I will be sure to visit one more time – before it’s too late – to give this show the attention it deserves.

Wait, did I just see another Ariel Basson Freiberg piece? I guess I can’t hate on the hat trick.

These days, when I am searching for inspiration, or trying to find my way through a problem in my work, I tend to look in music.

I have written a little about this before.

The thing is, I spend so much time thinking about painting, so much time examining the structure, and so much time analyzing the techniques used, that I have reached a point where I have a hard time turning that off. It’s hard to enjoy a magic show, when you know the trick to all the illusions. As this point, when I come across a great painting, I approach it like a scientist, like an archaeologist gently uncovering the layers of paint. It’s a great way to learn how to make paintings, but a terrible way to really connect with a piece. I often find myself unable to turn this off. So I look to something that is still a little more mysterious (to me), I look to music to find my muse.

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There are still occasions when I come across work that I can’t reverse engineer. Sometimes I come across work that does something I cannot figure out, and does it incredibly well. I have been talking a lot about organizing a show of portraiture; and as I have been selecting artists for this exhibition, this is a lot of what I have been looking for.

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When they want to stop people in their tracks, to grab attention and pull people in, painters go big. It’s relatively easy to make an impression with the largest piece in the gallery, we know this. Getting the same response from a six inch tall piece is something different. Catherine Kehoe makes small paintings that command attention from across the room. Pieces that look great from a distance, and then get even better as you move in for a closer look. Years ago, I stumbled upon an exhibition of Catherine’s portraits at what is now Miller Yezersky Gallery (just Howard Yezerski Gallery back then), and I have been borderline obsessed with her work ever since. As I am typing this, I am staring at the tiny icons of the files that contain images of her work. Incredibly, the pieces still draw me in at this tiny scale. This is the magic of her work, not a single stroke of the brush (or knife) is wasted. The paintings walk a fine line, where the careful planning of each crisp mark is clearly evident, but somehow they still feel effortlessly spontaneous.

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I am writing this after a long day in the studio so, this is going to be short and sweet. I plan on diving deeper into her work soon, but Catherine’s current solo show at Miller Yezersky Gallery closes next week. On the off chance anyone out there is not familiar with her work, I wanted to make sure I did my part to encourage you to go pay it a visit. Obviously, my favorites are the portraits, but she even manages to find a way to make me love still life painting.

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She will be at the gallery this Saturday from 1-4pm (and has promised chocolate snacks) so that is an ideal time to stop in and experience the show before it’s too late.