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So, when a real estate developer decides to promote a new pair of overpriced condos with two weekends of art events, I tend not to think too much about it. But given that the event is packed with a virtual who's who of Boston art-scene regulars, that some of the work is interactive, that it was curated by Brendan Killian, that there is free food and wine, and that many of the artists will be on hand for conversations about their work, I am very interested. Of course, it helps that it is two doors down from where I live.

This is the third "ArtHouse" event, whose scheduling has been more-or-less annual. Like the previous two, it seems to be a combination of reveling in, and strugging with, Boston's alternative scene and the need for space to show work. On one hand, with the boom in housing and condo development in the past few years, an opportunity like this makes perfect sense. Artists are craving space, and developers are looking for new ways to promote property. On the other hand, a thriving alt-scene would be filling some of the desires among artists for clean white walls.

That said, the "ArtHouse" experience is quite amazing. Many of the artists have created pieces that truly utilize the space they are in. Not the least of these is Douglass Weathersby and his 'Environmental Services' project. He produces an immersive environment that is, for those initiated to the ES experience, familiar and immersive. If it is possible to be densely minimal, Weathersby has a corner on that aesthetic.

Other artists tackle the space with grace as well. Esprit de Corps presents a delicate combination of draped fabric, strategically placed text, and projected video to turn an ordinary bedroom into a fascinating encounter. James Hull's clock creations alter a staircase in an amazing and pleasing way, while Samantha Fields has altered a pantry into a protected womb of white fabric. Danielle Krcmar's sculpted pieces, of a material that appears to be concrete, hang on thick white ropes in a stairwell, simultaneously dense and delicate.

Every room in the house is jam-packed with work. Robin Mandel presents one of his sculptures, and some delightful photograms on the porch. Nicole DePonte's drawings meet viewers in the entrance hall, and Caitlin Rockman's paintings fill a living room. The abundance of pieces actually pull one through the house, creating a guided tour that is an interesting way to experience real estate.

A particular delight is the work of Erica Von Schilgen, whose pieces use gears, tiny hand-cranks, and music boxes to animate montage works of elaborate elegence. It's possible that someone may be seduced into buying a condo simply through a fascination with this amazing work.

Another piece, one of many included by Megan Goltermann, hangs in the upstairs bathroom. It is a series of white dripping globules, sculpted from plaster, that hint at both playful childhood fascinations and more adult inclinations.

Much of the art is more traditional, meaning it hangs on a wall and is neither interactive nor installation. Amy Carpenter's cute and colorful paintings have a room to themselves, as do Alec Strasser's creepy post-apocalyptic works. Kelly Carmoody's classically styled portraits feel out of place in such a modern setting, yet their elegantly painted subjects throw in the ironic twist that makes her room unsettlingly appropriate.

"ArtHouse" may be a promotion for a pair of condos, but it is also a chance to see some great art. Sadly, by the time this piece is published, it will have passed. It is important, however, to acknowledge that great art is being shown in many places throughout our city. As our lively alternative scene becomes a fading memory, events such as this may be the new face of non-commercial art in Boston.

ArtHouse Boston

"ArtHouse" was on view May 6-7 & 13-14 at 85 Rockview Street in Boston's Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

It featured work by
Adam Lampton
Alec Strasser
Amy Carpenter
Catlin Rockman
Danielle Krcmar
Douglass Weathersby
Erica Von Schilgen
Hillary Tolan
James Hull
Kelly Carmoody
Leah Giberson
Liz Alexander
Megan Golterman
Nicole Deponte
Robin Mandel
Samantha Fields
Sue Murad
Esprit De Corps

Fields image by Matthew Nash.
All other images are courtesy of the artist and ArtHouse Boston.

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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