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Boston's lesser-known galleries have much to offer avid art fans

Alternative galleries prize content and intimacy over fame

Published: Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Updated: Friday, October 21, 2011 09:10


courtesy arden gallery


courtesy arden gallery

This inclusive approach allows the gallery to develop an aesthetic with a great deal of range. Still, there are certain continuities between Soprafina's choices.

When asked why he was drawn to Navarro's work specifically, Roselli cited the artist's use of color, the bold, graphic nature of Navarro's paintings and the balance point of her interest in the human emotional range.

Soprafina's light-hearted yet visually interesting works make for good viewing. View "Soliliquies" at the 450 Harrison Street gallery in Downtown Boston until Oct. 29.


Gallery Kayafas

Photography fans rejoice! Gallery Kayafas, also part of the SoWa group, focuses on contemporary photography. The gallery also shows complementary sculpture and works on paper from both emerging and established artists.

The current exhibit, entitled "Dystopian Dreaming," features the work of Boston locals Debra Weisberg and Judy Haberl. Weisberg and Haberl's photographs push the boundaries of image and its construction, relying on layered techniques that complicate the image-making process. It is left to the viewer to interpret the multi-layered works.

Weisberg's pieces explore the physicality of drawing, replacing line and graphite with a variety of objects. The medium-bending result is an explosion of energy rather than the depiction of concrete form.

Haberl's photography uses groups of organic objects, veiling them behind what appear to be foggy panes of glass. The gathering of disparate items, which substitute the foggy outlines of plants for drawings' lines, encourages the reader to construct an image through the haze.

Director Arlette Kayafas has been collecting photography with her husband — a photographer by trade — for many years and decided to make the jump into a gallery nine years ago. Kayafas said she enjoys working with a range of artists at different points in their careers and said that she often gives artists their first shows in Boston.

The balance of new and established artists gives the exhibits a range of fields, with works ranging from more experimental to more mature. As a result, the feel at Gallery Kayafas is markedly different than the one on Newbury Street, and you can expect to find more artists who are skirting the edges of both medium and institution. See "Dystopia Dreaming," through Nov. 26 at Gallery Kayafas' at 450 Harrison Street.



Undoubtedly one of the edgier of the SoWa galleries, samsøn shows works that question the arts and social establishments. It features artists who take as their canvas our world's many assumptions and biases.

The gallery's current exhibit, "More is More," features the work of Mark Cooper. His is an ambitious, site-specific installation that fills the whole gallery space. Cooper's work does the exhibit title proud; it is a literal expression of excess in the form of thousands of objects that occupy the gallery's rooms. "More is More" also truly exemplifies a multimedia technique.

The works manifest Cooper's interest in cultural diversity and visual language, forcing us to rethink how we respond to artwork, while also addressing how we may need to expand that response in light of the hodgepodge that is our own global landscape.

The gallery's devotion to turning a challenging lens on modern society prompts it to feature a huge range of emerging and — perhaps willfully — unrecognized artists. As it is more of an artistic think-tank than a gallery, walk into samsøn expecting to have to turn a few wheels in your rusty, homework-sodden brain.

That being said, it's worth it. The gallery's desire to bring up issues rather than solutions is a refreshing alternative to the endless parade of exhibits with a morale to offer and also raises questions about the types of issues we can't — or shouldn't — solve. Check out Mark Cooper's works at the 450 Harrison Street through Dec. 10.


Further explorations

The quality of Boston's artsy chops is on display not just in its larger museums, but also sprinkled throughout the city in its smaller galleries. Newbury's refined and established spaces provide the opportunity to see established artists — and even some familiar masters — in an intimate setting. With a shade fewer tourists and a marked absence of screaming children being dragged along for an education, the long-established Newbury crew has much to offer arts enthusiasts.

The SoWa gallery group at 450 to 460 Harrison Street offers a markedly different feel both because of the experimentalism of its shows and its warm group mentality. This feeling of camaraderie highlights not just the offerings of a single gallery, but also the dynamic of an artistic community that is changing and growing as a group.

Still craving more? See for a complete listing of Boston's galleries' websites and locations.

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