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.

Two panels, each 30″ x 40″ – oil on panel

nick-ward_portrait-from-web-portrait-from-life-1

I have not made it out to as many openings and exhibitions as I normally like too. Part of that has to do with adapting to my new role as a parent, part of that has to do with moving a to the outskirts of the city, but a lot of it has to do with the downward trajectory that this cities gallery scene has taken in the last few years. Spaces were closing, programs were slowing, I was having a harder time picturing a place for the kind of work I like here. Things were just getting less exciting.

Lately though, things seem to be turning around. New galleries are opening, existing spaces are relocating and gaining momentum, things are getting interesting again. Lately, I have been heading out to see art around Boston again, and I have been coming home renewed motivation. With that in mind, I wanted to do my small part to help fuel the energy that I am feeling lately by talking a little about a couple of the shows I visited this weekend. Now, my audience isn’t huge, somewhere between a few hundred and a few thousand read my posts, depending on my luck on any given day. But I think that starting conversations is important, and I want to continue to follow my own advice here. So I am going to keep it short and simple, but I am going to throw my opinions out there.

Anne BuckwalterDarling Hush Of Danger

Thomas Young Gallery

Thomas Young Gallery has always been a favorite spot of mine, and it seems to really be hitting its stride. I have to admit that in general, the lowbrow-ish, educated artschool outsider, whatever you call it aesthetic does not appeal to me much these days. Not to say that there is not a lot of interesting work that falls into this category, just that we seem to have reached saturation with this style, and a lot the art being made just ends up feeling a little too lazy.

Anne Buckwalter’s work escapes this trap (maybe it doesn’t even fall into this style at all?). It’s good. When I met her at the opening, I tried to explain how much I enjoyed her work, in comparison to how disappointed I would normally be by similar pieces… Which landed about as well as you would expect.

buckwalter

The work draws you in with intimately scaled drawings that are packed with details. The figures repeat and evolve across large sheets of bright white paper to create larger compositions. In my mind, the effect is similar to a repetitious musical hook, but Anne insisted her intent was quite different. In any case, it worked. The work had that feeling of immediacy that everyone loves, without hiding the fact that it was obviously labor intensive and quite structured. It felt quick and loose, without feeling like a study for something better (a sweet spot that so many artists seem to fall short of finding). If you didn’t manage to make it out on Saturday, it’s worth the trip.

Darlin Frometa – Fighting Superstition

How’s Howard?

I don’t think anyone who reads this site is going to be surprised that I liked this show. It’s no secret that I love intense, visually interesting paintings, and the centerpiece of this show falls right into that category. The work in this show features classically inspired compositions starring big bellied men, dressed in elaborate feminine attire. The effect is playful and inviting, and once you get pulled in, the pieces reward you with an abundance of details and allegories to explore.

I love art that gives enough away to be accessible and engaging for most everyone, while still holding deeper secrets for those who are knowledgeable enough to uncover them. This work does that. My only complaint is that there were not more paintings from this series included in the show (the drawings are scaled more appropriately for this particular space, so I think I understand the choice). Again, it’s a show worth seeing, at a gallery worth supporting.

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South Boston Open Studios is happening on Sunday June 1st and, despite the fact that I am in the middle of moving my studio to Dorchester, I will be set up and open for visitors. This will, most likely, be the last time that I participate in one of these events for a while so, if you are interested in seeing the paintings and talking with me about art, be sure to come out!

south boston spring open studios 2014

Postcard image by Dana Woulfe

This spring, the whole neighborhood is joining in the fun, with artists opening up in The Distillery, and King Terminal building, along with a few of the neighborhood galleries (including Thomas Young Gallery and the newly opened 555 Gallery).

For more information, and a full list of participating artists and galleries, visit southbostonopenstudios.com.

There will also be a neighborhood art stroll hosted by New Art Love. They will lead a group of visitors through the galleries and artist studios of Southie and talk with artists, curators, gallerists and more. Afterwords there will be a reception at LaMontagne Gallery. It sounds like a great way to experience South Boston Open Studios so, if you are interested, be sure to check out the Facebook event page, or go to www.southbostonartcrawl.eventbrite.com for more information.

I have a habit of over reaching in my life as an artist. Attempting paintings that are just a little bit beyond what I can possibly pull off, getting involved in projects with tight deadlines and, showing up to ask for the impossible has become common place at this point. While I have grown used to hearing the word no, most of the time these gambles find a way to miraculously pay off.

Preparing for this show was not one of those times.

A while back Didi Menendez did a nice profile of my work in her magazine, Poets & Artists. Not only did this profile lead to one of my first big sales, it has also lead to my work being included in a few of her other projects, including what has become and annual show at the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago. These shows (along with her magazine) do an amazing job of combining promising newer artists alongside bigger established names and, I am trying to work with her on a portrait show here in Boston. In other words, when she calls, I want to send her something good.

Unfortunately, something good just did not want to happen without a fight. I scaled back my original plan, then scrapped the backup plan, only to end up finishing a piece that I had nearly abandoned. In the end, all the frustration was worth it. I am happy with the finished piece and the show will, without a doubt, be great.

I think everyone has seen enough of my new piece for this show so, scroll down for the official information and a few of the early arrivals for the show from some other cool artists.

Fixation

On view from April 18th – May 11th, 2014

Opening reception Friday April 18th from 7-10pm

At the Zhou B Art Center in Chicago
1029 W 35th St, Chicago, IL 60609

Fixation is an exhibition and a publication of art and poetry focused on the physical or psychological preoccupation or obsession over an object or subject. Also as a focus of something that will capture our attention.

Fixation takes place in a gallery setting, print and digital formats. The exhibition is curated by Sergio Gomez of Chicago’s Zhou B Art Center and Didi Menendez of PoetsArtists Magazine.

Contributing Artists

  • Cesar Santos
  • Denis Peterson
  • Tim Okamura
  • Terri Thomas
  • Eloy Morales
  • Daena Title
  • Nadine Robbins
  • Daniel Ochoa
  • Ivonne Bess
  • Ryan Shultz
  • Michelle Buchanan
  • Jennifer Koe
  • Brianna Angelakis
  • Tracey Stuckey
  • Rory Coyne
  • Lauren Levato
  • Matthew Ivan Cherry
  • Brian Busch
  • Nick Ward
  • Jaime Valero Perandones
  • Karen Kaapcke
  • Patrick Earl Hammie
  • Miranda Graham
  • Harry Sudman
  • Marcos Raya
  • Ernesto Marenco

Contributing Poets

  • Richard Blanco
  • Denise Duhamel
  • Nin Andrews
  • Reb Livingston
  • Ana Menendez
  • Ken Taylor
  • Emma Trelles
  • Grace Cavalieri
  • John Korn
  • Terry Lucas
  • Sarah Blake
  • Kathleen Kirk
  • Tara Betts
  • Sam Rasnake
  • David Krump
  • Geof Huth

BONUS!

For those of you that think I stink, but like Margaux. This video featuring a poem by Nin Andrews will be playing at the gallery. See if you can spot her.

Nin Andrews: A Glossary of Deirdres from Didi Menendez on Vimeo.

The opening for From Motion to Stillness was last Friday and, since I can not turn down a good opportunity for a road trip, I headed to Chicago for the occasion. I had a great time taking in the local art scene (which is a lot bigger and more interesting than Chicago locals have lead me to believe) and meeting some of the other artists who participated in the show. The event was packed and I have probably never been in the same room with this many talented figurative painters at once before, a successful opening. Didi Menendez did a great job organizing the show, maybe one day she can be convinced to put one on in Boston.

A reading during the From Motion to Stillness opening, photo by Jennifer Koe.

A reading during the From Motion to Stillness opening, photo by Jennifer Koe.

For those of you who are not in Chicago, I will post photos from the opening soon. For now you can check out some photos of the show, taken by Howard Tullman (scroll down to see the images):
tullman.blogspot.com/2013/02/from-motion-to-stillness-show-opens-in.html

While you are there, check out the rest of Tullman’s wonderful collection, including some of my older pieces, paintings by my brother in law, other artists in featured in From Motion to Stillness, and a lot more of my favorite figurative artists.

You can also see the paintings in more detail and study up on the artists who participated in this months Poets and Artists Magazine available here: http://www.magcloud.com/browse/issue/510305 or, get it on your Ipad from Itunes here: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/poetsartists/id599430729?mt=11.

The show will be up at the Zhou B Art Center until March 10th so, check it out if you have a chance.

Open studios time is almost here again and it looks like it will be bigger and better than ever. There are plenty of new artists in the Distillery building and more of them are opening their doors than ever. There are also even more great artists right down the street at King Terminal.

So, come on out to South Boston on November 3rd or 4th and say hello. Check out some freaky studios, drink some free beers and maybe even look at a painting or two. The event is free to the public, rain or shine, noon to 6pm each day.

Head over to the official website for a full list of participating artists and locations.
southbostonopenstudios.org

And be sure to join the Facebook event page and share it with your friends.
facebook.com/events/384165701660559/

South Boston Open Studios 2012

People often ask me to participate in group shows with the stipulation that the piece should be small. I can understand that, they want to fit a lot of art into a limited space, it makes sense. Unfortunately, I have found that trying to reproduce the paintings I have been doing in a small scale just doesn’t work. Read the rest of this entry »

For those of you that did not make it out to The Distillery Gallery in South Boston to check out the People Places and Horses show, you can now take a virtual tour of the show on The Distillery Gallery’s Flickr page. Click on the photos below to see high resolution images on Flickr:

I have a new painting on my easel this week. Getting pretty close with this one, just need to get the bottom half finished and make some final touches on the portrait. Everything was going so smoothly and then I blanked out and forgot the text I was going to use on the lower half… Lesson learned, write stuff down. Now, for the first time in my life, I went out and bought a note pad and actually put it to use. Wrote down all my ideas and concepts and even got a little pocket sized pad to keep with me in case inspiration strikes. Clearly I am maturing.

Untitled Oil Painting, Work in Progress by Nick Ward