Having lived back in Boston for nearly a year, it was high time to venture out to a SoWa First Friday at the SoWa Artists Guild. And although one evening didn’t leave enough time to explore all the floors (or even all the studios on one floor – there was so much to see), I was very surprised by the breadth and quality of work on display. Bonus: the fact that the artists are usually present and ready to discuss amplifies the entire experience. (A sidenote: after visiting the AD20/21 event this past weekend, which fell short of most reasonable expectations, it’s comforting to know that there is a place in Boston where good art is alive and well and thriving.)
The SoWa Artists Guild building is set in a spacious, red-brick alley that, on the night I visited, was decorated with lights and looked like a transplanted bit of a charming old European city. I’d had no idea the area south of Washington Street possessed such a gem. It was bohemian and sort of posh at once. You enter at 450 Harrison, and then walk up an industrial stairwell that makes it all feel a bit invitation-only – in a good way – ending up in a long hallway with rooms the artists rent for studio space. There’s something very intimate about seeing the artists in their element, sipping tea, talking to old friends who dropped by with their cockapoos, now smeared in paint from a new canvas drying in the corner. At times I felt I’d walked in on a private party, but the generally atmosphere was relaxed and easy to enjoy.
A few artists on the floor I got to explore stood out:
SilverWoods Studio is a shared venture between Stephen Silver and Beverly Woods. I was very drawn to the abstract landscape pieces Woods had on view, her vibrant and highly contrasted palette, and her perfect fusion of linear and more flowing forms. And Silver’s birch trees stuck a chord – perhaps because birch trees are so integral to the Russian landscape I grew up in…but it was also the depth and sense of mystery Silver creates with just a thumbnail-style image of birch tree trunks, and the way he plays with color and light, that left a lasting impression.
Susan Gheyssari‘s pomegranates, executed to perfection, become more than just still life when she arranges them in geometrically arranged squares or places them against an Eastern-style backdrop. The result is an intriguing combination of modern form and organic shape, often with a strong Persian aesthetic. She explained that the fruit is an ancient symbol of fertility in Iranian culture – but also of love, fitting for the romantic aura surrounding Susan’s studio. She blends traditional patterns and themes into her still life canvases, effectively framing her subject matter in a tapestry-like border. (She also happens to be really lovely, warm and easy to talk to.)
I saw Kim Radochia‘s studio just as the even was coming to a close – and was so glad I’d made it to the very end of the hall, but wished I’d had more time with her work. Modern, sculptural and very diverse (in shape, composition and material), it was unlike anything else I saw that night. Many of the works on display were easy to picture in a home (or outside it) – which is not always true of such pieces: modern sculptures often seem more destined for museums than for daily enjoyment. I’ve been thinking a great deal about a corporate art rotation/placement project, and it was easy to imagine cutting-edge companies and organizations vying for her work. It’s at once abstract and symbolic, very approachable, and engaging: you wonder what inspired each unique piece and watch to see how the whole silhouette changes with any change in shadow and light. Very interesting.
The event, which is held on the first Friday of every month, is definitely worth the trip (you can park for free near the Boston Sports Club down the street and just mention First Fridays to the attendant).
Next stop on the South End itinerary (though this one will have to wait til May): foods and crafts at the SoWa Open Market at 500 Harrison Ave, Sundays 10AM-4PM, May 6, 2012 through October 28, 2012.