Somerville Open Studios – May 4-5

After living in/near Somerville for 5 years, I finally made it to Open Studios! Finals and birthday parties have kept me away in the past, but this year nothing could keep me away! I only had a few hours early on Sunday afternoon to devote to art viewing, so I chose to go to Vernon Street Studios to make the most of my time. The building was buzzing with art viewers and makers, and I had a great time taking it all in. I have semi-mixed feelings about open studio events (perhaps a post on that to come in the future?), my biggest complaint being how the more commercial and traditional artists overshadow emerging artists, but I was happy to find a handfull of vibrant artists that leapt out of the crowd:

Darkroom mural prints by Edie Shimel

Darkroom mural prints by Edie Shimel

The first artist that stood out to me was Edie Shimel. Edie described her practice as building machettes, projecting images onto them, and then photographing the result. She makes all her final prints as mural prints in the darkroom, and they are quite stunning. I bought a little contact print of the image on the left.

Paintings by David Palmquist

Paintings by David Palmquist

I was first drawn into David Palmquist‘s work by the way he paired a painting and his square show postcards (above, right) out in the hallway. It was very meta, the way his tiled postcards mimicked the repetition of his larger paintings. Not pictured here, he also had some wonderful arial paintings of map-like roadways. Among a rather lot of hum-drum paintings, his clean and precise style that straddled abstraction and map-making definitely stood out.

Paintings by Holland Dieringer

Paintings by Holland Dieringer

Holland Dieringer‘s small mixed media works quickly drew me into her studio. I am a huge fan of mixing human and animal elements in my own drawings, and I must say I found her work to be very inspirational. Dieringer’s paintings are delicate, but certainly not tentative. Daintily surreal perhaps? Like Bosch meets James Jean? Whatever it is, it’s definitely working!

Painting by Sophia Ainslie

Painting by Sophia Ainslie

Sophia Ainslie‘s large paintings are vibrant and fun. I think I saw her work in a gallery in the South End one time…


I unfortunately didn’t get a snap of Caleb Cole’s work, but go check out his photos on his website (especially the series “Other People’s Clothes”)! I saw some of his work in Gallery Kayafas a while back and I loved seeing it in the less imposing and more casual setting of his studio.

Sculptures by Kathleen Finlay

Sculptures by Kathleen Finlay

I’ll wrap up this post with some soft sculpture by Kathleen Finlay. I’ve always had a soft spot for large scale soft sculpture. The way the fabric is semi-controlled, the weight of the material itself essential to the object. It makes me think of postminimal, Eve Hesse, and simply gives me a warm fuzzy feeling.

I’m glad I finally made it to Somerville Open Studios, maybe next year I’ll actually make it to more than one studio building!

Variants @ Fourth Wall – May 4-12

Selections from Part 1 of "Variants" by Jodie Goodnough

Selections from Part 1 of “Variants” by Jodie Goodnough

I admit to having a bit of a head start on this show, since I’ve been checking in with Jodie Goodnough as she worked on it over the past months, but when I walked into The Fourth Wall gallery, the final product still managed to take me by surprise.  In Variants, Goodnough addresses the issue of how psychiatric patients have been represented over time. The show is composed of two interconnected parts. Part 1 features large format photos that draw on the iconography of early mental hospital documentation. Each portrait is printed at about the size of the 4×5 negative and paper-clipped to a clipboard. Through updating the outdated psuedo-science of physiognomy, Goodnough questions the established treatment practices of Western medicine.

Still from Part 2 of "Variants" by Jodie Goodnough

Still from Part 2 of “Variants” by Jodie Goodnough

Goodnough continues probing the pharmaceutical industry in the second part of the series, which is presented as a looping slideshow on a display monitor. Here she photographed the same set of subjects, but this time in the style of the pharmaceutical ads that constantly appear in magazines and TV. The two parts of Variants don’t compete, but rather expand the conversation: Goodnoughs subjects are simultaneously named as psychiatric patients and freed from the restriction of diagnosis as identity.

Variants feels like both a finished product and a body of work bursting with potential. Perhaps it’s because I’ve already watched the project develop and change for so long, but I can imagine countless ways the project could continue grow with added subjects and new ways it could be exhibited to showcase different aspects of the body of work. I can only hope more galleries will want to show Goodnough’s work so that I can see where it goes from here.


(As a side note, Jodie’s artist statement is pretty kick-ass)

Discover more of Jodie Goodnough’s work here.

Art in Bloom @ The MFA – April 27-29

Art in Bloom is one of my favorite annual events at the MFA. The show only lasts three days, so one of the downsides is the crowds and entitled-acting tour groups one has to peer around to actually see the flowers. But once the tours move along, they reveal stunning flower arrangements created in response to different works of art in the museum’s collection. This year, my far and away favorite was  New Leaf Flores’ response to the green Chihuly in the main atrium. In truth, it was more of a sculpture in it’s own right, than a demure floral response a pre-existing work. Neon orange bamboo created a free-standing arch large enough for multiple people to stand beneath it. The network of bamboo was punctuated by palm fronds and two enormous starbursts formed from large leaves and flowers. Although we visited on different days, my friend Gaia and I had the exact same response to the sculpture:


Suzi's reaction to Art in Bloom

Suzi’s reaction to Art in Bloom


Gaia's Reaction to Art in Bloom

Gaia’s Reaction to Art in Bloom


Fill Me Up @ Howard Yezerski Gallery – April 19-30th


Spring is always a flurry of MFA thesis shows and I am enjoying actually having the time to check a lot of them out now that I am out of school. I swung by the Howard Yezerski Gallery in the middle of the week; it was strange to have the gallery to myself to peruse without the throngs of First Friday gallery goers! I am thrilled that Yezerski is breaking with its mold to follow the lead of other galleries (like Anthony Greeney) and show the work of emerging artists. Even though Fill Me Up won’t be up for First Fridays, it is still an exciting precedent.

I know Rob Chamberlin as a photographer and performance artist, so it was fascinating to see his thesis show – composed entirely of clay pots! The vases spilled across the room, taking full advantage of the gallery white walls, and invited the gallery goers to approach even the works sitting on the floor. I spent my time in the gallery inspecting the variety of white pots, peering at the icing-like decorations from different angles, and trying to connect the dots between the show and what I already knew of Chamberlin’s work. Rob will have to tell me if I’m right, but I was reminded of his fascination with the concept of the MRS degree – earning a college degree in order to become a housewife. Rob has hosted bake sales as part of a husband search performance, and I couldn’t help but imagine the pots as altered wedding cakes – pristinely white, but terribly and beautifully imperfect.

Discover more of Rob Chamberlin’s work here.

Art-A-Day @ The Aviary Gallery – April 27th

I went to a super fun group show on Saturday! Fun-A-Day, a pop-up show at the Aviary Gallery, showcased 30 artists who participated in a month-long art making challenge. Each artist chose a theme and committed to creating art around it every day. I came away with a smile and good dose of inspiration for activities I could inject into my own studio practice. A few highlights:

“Watercolor-A-Day” by Lindsay Metivier

“Watercolor-A-Day” by Lindsay Metivier

Watercolor-A-Day” by Lindsay Metivier

Gadget Magic” by William Johnston (recording daily music sketches)

Eight Arms-A-Day” by Jess Swasey (make some sort of octopus every day)

New England Landscape-A-Day” by David Buckley Borden

“Modeling Memory-A-Day” by Bridgit Wurster

“Modeling Memory-A-Day” by Bridgit Wurster

“Modeling Memory-A-Day” by Bridgit Wurster

Find out more about the show and explore all the artists at


Somethings @ Gallery 535 – April 20th

After such an emotional week in Boston, I spent my Saturday actively decompressing: the day began with brunch, followed with a lazy walk through the Arnold Arboretum, and finished with the pop-up show, Somethings, at Gallery 535. Somethings, installed entirely the day of and lasting only one evening, was put on by the students of the Professional Practices class from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. I’m a big fan of shows put on by college classes – there’s something about the synergy that comes of a semester spent discussing art together that always yields interesting results.

“Crystals” by Bailey Quilan and “emptiness (no.5)” by Linda Pagani

The show collected diverse works, but didn’t feel tossed together, a testament to the effort the students put into its curation. Some of the work focused on precision as a vehicle for visual exploration, while others pieces took a more informal route. Bailey Quinlan and Linda Pagani, both talented photographers, chose minimalism as a way to isolate their subject matter. In Cheese and Crytals, Quinlan plays with scale to inject her mundane subject matter with with mysterious meaning. Pagani’s elegant photos meanwhile seem almost like watercolor colorfield paintings. Sky merges with sea, delicately distinguishing itself from the blank page. A balcony juts into emptiness (no.5) like modernist sculpture.

Charlotte Wampold’s sculpture bridged the gap between serious and playful in the form of a multi-media “self-portrait” exploring her personal relationship with, get this, lard. The paintings and food items at first seemed off-putting, but upon talking to the artist, I was taken by her thoughtful and serious reasoning behind each element as it related to her family.

Dayna Safferstein exhibited a series of whimsical drawings paired with third-person descriptions. “Brandishing your crabshell talisman ahead as you walk, you feel the squish of the swamp between your toes. You’re started as a toad springs out of your path […] If you – catch the toad, and attempt a philosophical conversation, turn to page 150.” (Brandishing your crabshell talisman, 2012). The drawings read like isolated pages from a choose-your-own-adventure novel, but with a healthy dose of poetry and existentialism thrown in.

"The Game of Life" by Sibel Levi

“The Game of Life” by Sibel Levi

Sibel Levi’s Game of Life took center stage in the middle of the gallery – a series of colored cords and numbered pegs crisscrossed the gallery wall. Gallery goers were encouraged to roll the oversized dice and follow the wall text instructions to participate in the game. I was particularly charmed by the final “rule” on the list: “Reflect on the infinite number of paths not taken. Think about life as art.”

MFA Thesis Exhibition @ Fourth Wall Gallery – Apr 3-12

The Fourth Wall Gallery has been filled with activity ever since it recently reopened, hosting a new Museum School MFA thesis show practically every other week. Although the turnover has been fast, the exhibitions have been anything but rushed in appearance. The most recent show features work from SMFA graduate students Laura Beth Reese, Jasmine Higbee, and Laura Fischman.

Upon first entering the gallery, Fischman’s work, titled Neither Here Nor There, greets the gallery visiter with vast expanses of sky and sea. On closer examination, the swaths of blue reveal careful brushwork and subtle shading that hint at scenes of half-forgotten memories: a car driving though the fog, a faded window. By mixing in small studies of pipes between the larger works, Fischman seems to be examining the weight of psychological importance placed onto everyday objects and experiences.

Higbee’s video projection, titled Hope/Fear, takes up an entire wall in the second room. Although this piece could have benefitted from some accompanying text, Higbee explained in her artist talk that the video was created using found documentary footage of workers burning e-waste in Ghana. Higbee carefully turned each individual into a silhouette that is sometimes black, sometimes overlaid with footage of the burning waste. The workers become both anonymous and impossible to ignore, as their bodies meld with the landscape and become literally toxic from the burning fumes.

The true highlight of the exhibition, though, is Reese’s large-format photographic project, Portraits. Each photo features a nude individual, sometimes within the safety of a sun-drenched room, sometimes exposed to the outdoor elements, yet always at ease before the camera. The images are close-cropped to the individuals’ bodies and invite the viewer into a space that is brimming with psychological drama, rather than any type of physical action. The introduction of animals into some of the portraits adds an element of reverie to the series, as if the photos are partially fantasies. By framing the photos without glass, Reese allows the viewer full access to the pristinely printed skin tones, her technical mastery of her craft heightening even further the impact of her work.

Each artist’s work features a separate medium and subject matter, yet the show is united by the theme of psychological exploration of the human body within the landscape.

More info on the exhibition here.