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Out & About: September Edition

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Since I missed the openings last Friday, I decided to spend the day checking out shows in the South End and on Newbury Street. I saw a lot of great work, and was struck by how rapidly SoWA has changed in the wake of recent gallery closings. I had some great conversations with gallerists, and I thought I'd share my thoughts and notes after a long afternoon of art viewing. I'm working on a few reviews for this weekend's issue of Big RED & Shiny, but here are some brief thoughts on what I saw.

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Left: Maggie Stark, Shift
Center: Maggie Stark with her piece There
Right: a castle by Christopher Frost

I started at Boston Sculptors Gallery, which has work by Christopher Frost and Maggie Stark. Frost's pieces have a child-like perspective, but with adult-sized materials. My favorite is a small castle, built by stacking red bricks. Maggie Stark's light- and video-based sculptures play with perception and space. I was lucky that Stark was gallery sitting, so I got to talk with her about the pieces, and take a snapshot of her next to a neon piece (that is completely blown-out in the picture... doh!). I really enjoyed her piece Shift which creates a bright glowing strip of light, while casting a split blue/grey image on the wall behind.

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A piece by Amy Chan

The new Carroll And Sons Gallery, which is Joe Carroll's gallery in the former Bernard Toale space, features work by Thomas Allen and Amy Chan. I have always loved Allen's photographs of old paperbacks, cut and posed to create new narratives. I picked up a copy of his book, by Aperture, which has all of my favorites inside. Chan's cut-paper pieces, which grow off the wall in fun scapes, seemed an appropriate fit with Allen's photos.

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A detail of work by Jacob Elhanani

Up the way, at Steven Zevitas Gallery, are the intricately inscribed drawings of Jacob Elhanani. These are very subdued works, and while not my particular taste I definitely appreciate the intensity and hard work that goes into the creation.

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Ben Sloat's mini-reproductions

Although I missed the performance during First Friday, I was excited to check out Ben Sloat's show at OH+T, and I was not disappointed. Sloat has devoted this entire body of work to Thriller-era Michael Jackson worship, and I was really happy to see it all together. For my taste, the most notable pieces in the show are the mini-reproductions of Jeff Koon's Michael Jackson And Bubbles sculpture, each painted differently.

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The Muse II by Jesse Pollock

On the lower level, Diamond-Newman Fine Arts has a group show titled "This Is Not A Photograph", which features work that is either photorealistic painting or photographs incorporated into paintings. Three pieces in the latter category, by Jesse Pollock, caught my attention.

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3 pieces by Katherine Bradford

Next door, Samson Projects features large, child-like paintings by Katherine Bradford in a show titled "Aliens & Seafarers." I was drawn to the subject matter in a few of the images, but turned off by the sloppyness of the surfaces.

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A view of Amy Montali's work

At Gallery Kayafas I found work by two photographers who clearly share a similar vision. The work of Amy Montali and Jess T. Dugan has a lot in common, as both artists seem to be exploring moments of intrusion, as if the viewer is witnessing something that they should not. Montali's images are a bit more indirect than Dugan's but their work pairs well in Kayafas' small space.

I also spoke with Arlette Kayafas about her impending move to a larger space upstairs, next to Steven Zevitas, and she was very excited. She showed me floor plans for the new gallery, and it appears that SoWA is already recovering from recent changes. Arlette also hinted an who might be opening a new gallery in her old space, but that is gossip for the future....

I made two quick stops on my way to Newbury Street, first at the Boston Center For the Arts and then at The New England School of Art and Design. The BCA was putting the finishing touches on 4 new shows, by Kirsten Mosher, Sean M. Johnson, Dave McKenzie and a collaboration between Andrew Witkin and Douglas Weathersby. The opening is tonight, which I am missing as I write this. At NESAD, I had hoped to see James Manning's last curatorial effort "String Theory" but it turns out I was a week early.

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Dave Cole, installation detail

Late in the day, I got to see two must-see shows on Newbury Street. First, at Judi Rotenberg Gallery is Dave Cole, whose work is always both brutal and beautiful. For "All-American" he has brought together two big themes: childhood and war. His knitted Kevlar children's wear and Radio Flyer with mounted machine gun are hysterical and scary, and the American flag made of spent bullet casings is worth seeing.

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Steve Hollinger

I ended my day at Chase Gallery where Steve Hollinger has a show of amazing little robotic creatures, suspended in liquid. The little "pods" are photo sensitive and move in resonse to lights. Hollinger's work here, as always, is a wonderful mix of technological skill, conceptual adeptness and beauty.

September is when all the galleries put in their best efforts to start out the season strong. If you haven't yet gotten out to see all of this great work (and much more that I didn't have space to write about) then take and afternoon and walk. I promise it's worth it.

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About Author

Matthew Nash is the founder of Big Red & Shiny. He is Associate Professor of Photography and New Media at the Art Institute of Boston at Lesley University and was the 2011-12 Chair of the University Faculty Assembly. Nash is half of the artist collaborative Harvey Loves Harvey, who are currently represented by Gallery Kayafas in Boston and have exhibited in numerous venues since 1992.

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