Hey Art, Where for Art Thou? The Collaborative Effort to Put Massachusetts on the Art Map


“If you have only two pennies, spend the first on bread and the other on hyacinths for your soul.”– Arab Proverb

Boston isn’t known as a mecca for buyers in the art world; on the contrary, I hear more and more how buyers go straight to New York for art and forgo the fine galleries right here in their own city.  This leaves most of the galleries in Boston high and dry as far as making a living is concerned.  This is a gosh-darned shame

"Lost Youth" by Hope Ricciardi (Galatea member)

considering the quality and dedication of the city’s artists.  So what kind of energy is generated by this fact in Boston’s art world?  Not necessarily the kind you would expect.  Instead of stiff exclusionary competition, Boston’s art scene is experiencing a growing sense of community.  And it is an honor to be involved in an art community that values:  1) the free interchange of ideas between its members, 2)  support and honest caring about fellow artists, and  3)  the freedom to be the artist of your own making.  Despite the struggle we as artists experience trying to stay afloat in a questionable economy, a vibrant, indefatigable community exists.

Consider my observations of two cooking reality TV shows I recently viewed.  One is called “Master Chef”.  Here home cooks compete for the title of “Master Chef” and the accolades of a few seasoned chefs with delusions of godhood.  The contestants are rewarded for perfection, or what is considered perfection, and given a good lickin’ in the case of imperfection.  Tails are either waggin’ or heads are hangin’ low.  In contrast, the other cooking program, “Top Chef Masters”, features fellow professional chefs who have the highest respect for one another and are treated with

Marjorie Kaye "An Incident in the Fabric of Time"

dignity.  There were hugs, charities benefiting from winnings, and it was a joy to watch.  It brought to mind the potential energies in the art community, and I was struck by the contrast between my expectations when I started Galatea Fine Art and the happy truth that quickly came into focus.

When I began to be immersed in the Boston art community, to be honest, I was not expecting to find a high level of interchange and support between the members at our cooperative, Galatea Fine Art, or for that matter between different galleries, artists of differing mediums and genres, and gallery owners themselves.  But happily, harmony exists here.  Traditionally, art is a very competitive field.  It can be very difficult to sift through the “wanna-be’s” and the attitudes that can easily prevail.

Joanne Mattera, Arden Gallery

Not that it’s really anyone’s fault.  It’s set up that way.  There are zillions of artists and only a handful of exhibition slots.   But here many set up their own art universes, some even welcome other artists into it.  A perfect example is artist, Joanne Mattera, a Manhattan-based artist with deep ties to this area, especially the North Shore. In addition to showing in Boston (at the Arden Gallery), she helps other artists realize their own paths both artistically and professionally.  She created the International Encaustic* Conference, which began on the North Shore and recently relocated to its new home in Provincetown, giving encaustic painters a mecca and a place to unite.  *(editors note:  Encaustic Painting is a millennia-old process whereby melted wax and pigment are blended then applied to a surface in multiple layers, and heated. (Sometimes wax is scratched away for a sculpted effect.))

My artist partner-in-exploration, George Shaw, and I recently went to our Galatea Fine Art members Hope Ricciard’s and Paula Estey’s individual exhibitions in Roxbury and Newburyport.  What we saw were artists ever expanding their own

Paula Estey, "Reclamation: One Artist's Journey Through Loss"

concepts, bringing their own quests into bright light.  We realized that our community is a proving ground for immersion in others’ paths, thereby enhancing our own.  Our member Philip Gerstein recently curated an exhibition in Provincetown that we also hope to be able to visit.  And there are countless Galatea members doing amazing things, expanding the spirit of the art “cooperative” beyond our gallery.  And beyond that, countless friends in other galleries are reaching more levels of possibilities.  How could we not take it all in?  Our fortune as artists lies within ourselves and each other.  And if we are allotted our 15 minutes of fame and a few bucks in the midst of it, it is well-deserved.

©2011 by Marjorie Kaye, guest blogger for Brain4Rent

Guest Blogger Bio:  Marjorie Kaye is a painter and sculptor residing in Cambridge, Massachusetts.  Her work has been featured in many local and national exhibitions, and is in many collections both regional and abroad.  She is the originator and

Galatea Fine Art cooperative in SOWA (Boston)

member/director of Galatea Fine Art, a cooperative gallery in SOWA, Boston’s art

district located in the South End.  She has also had an on-line gallery, Caladan Gallery, for eight years, exhibiting hundreds of artists from all over the country and the world.

3 responses to “Hey Art, Where for Art Thou? The Collaborative Effort to Put Massachusetts on the Art Map

  1. Excellent article, Marjorie. I see the same kind of community and cooperation with the artists here in Minneapolis. Bottom line – don’t try to be New York. The world already has a New York. Figure out who YOU are, in YOUR city, and be that.

  2. Great article Marjorie…Congratulations for your great achievements at Galatea Fine Art…I thought we are already on the map? It is time for the local museums to make space for local artists!

  3. You have done much to foster that spirit of interactivity, collaboration, and respect in the local art world. Keep doing what you do .. you are wonderful at it!

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