20 art shows to see this spring
Now that spring is here you no longer have an acceptable excuse for avoiding art. Barring any insane April snowstorm action, we expect you to hurry out to some of these upcoming shows that we assure you will be worth your precious time. If you disagree then you can tell us directly, because we’ll be there, nibbling on the cheese, sipping the wine and scribbling in our notepads. Honest.
Laura Evans, “White Noise” (Mar. 15–Apr. 17)
This show features anthropomorphic sculptures with an aural component. What that means is that no, you aren’t going crazy, but yes, the sculptures are talking to you—in their own language of course. Margaret Swan's “In Leaf” is a multi-part sculpture inspired by the structure and rhythms of natural forms. Think Walt Whitman, if he had worked with concrete instead of words.
“Parallel Play: A Kinship” (through Apr. 29)
This is a hit sitcom waiting to happen, set in the hilarious world of art. Katie Baldwin, David Curcio, Edward Monovich, Edie Overturf and Serena Perrone are five artist friends sharing a printshop studio. Got it? Within this space they communicate, laugh, love and bond through their work. No word on whether some of them hook up or whether one is a bubbly blonde that makes up silly songs.
“Move Me” (Apr. 28–May 28)
This exhibition features a conglomerate of kinetic artists, which means that they are experts at making pieces that seems to have a physical life of their own; art that does something, other than just sit there and be art. Expect many ADD-friendly hands-on exhibits that you can fidget with—little cranks and knobs to turn and so on. Artists include: Joe Pentland, Erica Von Schilgen, Chris Fitch, Steve Hollinger and the legendary Arthur Ganson.
“The Dark Side of Home” (Feb. 23–Apr. 8)
When the two women running Allston Skirt Gallery called it quits a few years ago, it was like Uncle Tupelo splitting into Son Volt and Wilco (although Drive-By’s Beth Kantrowitz and Randi Hopkins—now at the ICA—like each other a lot more than Jeff Tweedy and Jay Farrar). “The Dark Side of Home,” with Kathleen O’Hara’s brooding landscapes, Remi Thornton’s disturbing prints and David Curcio’s weird etchings place Kantrowitz’s new gallery that she shares with O’Hara firmly in the Wilco category.
Nancy Ellen Jones, “Tropical Depression” (Apr. 1–16)
Jones is a New Mexico-based photographer with the mind of a documentarian and the eye of an artist. Her imagery is consistently interesting, whether she’s photographing the stark, gleaming contours of the gas chamber at the state pen, a lonely fence on an abandoned road, or an organic feast with heaping plates of vegetables. At the Laconia Gallery, she presents a mixed-media video installation.
Vivian Pratt, “Ephemeral Memorials” (Mar. 30–Apr. 30)
Pratt is the kind of joi de vivre type who likes to take pictures of dying flowers. Though it isn’t exactly an upper, the fascinating, meditative imagery in her collection of decaying fake flowers, juxtaposed against the background of gravestones, is sure to make a powerful impression on you.
Melissa Scherrer, “Blow Ups” (Mar. 12–Apr. 9)
The New Mexico-based Melissa Scherrer’s work breaks all the rules, including her own. Bright colors explode off the page; photographs of cats are painted over, giving their eyes a sinister look; and abstract doodles crackle with an undeniable internal logic. And then she will contradict all of this by sketching a furry little squirrel and bringing it to life with a remarkable command of realistic detail.
Hank Willis Thomas (Mar. 25–May 7)
Samson has a way of finding talented, fascinating and acclaimed artists flying just under the cultural radar. Thomas is a great example: he’s a young photographer focusing on the African-American experience, with more commendations than Patton. He’s shown at museums in Brooklyn, Oakland and San Francisco and at Sundance, was an artist-in-residence at John Hopkins, and so much more. And yet you likely haven’t heard of him. You can do something about that.
Meredith Morten, “re:Strata” (Through Apr. 16)
Not to be confused with that other tiny hole-in-the-wall gallery that has “Hall” in the title, HallSpace calls Dorchester home. Meredith is a ceramics artist and a Kiln God. That’s not a joke; she was actually given that title by winning a grant in Kansas City. Her work here represents the fruits of a Fulbright-sponsored trip to Hungary where she studied primitive cultures in the Carpathian Basin. This stuff is legit.
Brent Refsland (May 5–28)
The Hallway’s owner/curator celebrates two years in the gallery biz by showing some of his own work. At this point, he’s probably earned it. He specializes in photographing the little-seen parts of cities like Boston, Austin, Chicago and so on. He also likes to shoot portraits of the back of people’s heads. Among other featured artists will be Melanie Blood, who makes tiny ephemeral sculptures out of clay, fiber and paper.
“Holoplanktonica, an Illustrated Book of Impressions” (through May 7)
The Watertown renaissance continues with another new gallery, this one featuring local luminary Deb Todd Wheeler who is known as a sculptor, photographer and inventor. Her interest is in environmental issues, and her work here consists of finding floating piles of plastic debris from the sea and making multi-layered monoprints out of them, keeping them preserved for posterity.
Jim Campbell (Apr. 22–May 24)
Howard can always be counted on to find intriguing artists that know how to best utilize his space. Installation artist Jim Campbell is known for hugely ambitious, eye-popping installations full of scattered light and fragmented imagery along the streets of New York, San Francisco and so on. We can only begin to guess what kind of craziness will ensue at Howard’s place.
"Plastic + Film: An Exhibition of Toy Camera Photography" (Apr. 30–May 21)
Now this is truly an exhibit for the people! The Nave is calling for contributions from anyone that has ever taken shots with their toy camera, or has a thing for the kinds of artistic limitations imposed by equipment clearly never intended for anything more serious than keeping children (or art students) distracted. They intend to celebrate “personal, quirky and unique perspectives.”
Joshua Baptista (Mar. 27–May 13)
Voltage Coffee & Art
Voltage is not only a freaking great coffeehouse but also one of the better new venues for seeing art in the city. Baptista is an emerging artist, and this Kendall area art space is a great place to see him emerge. His work covers a wide range, from cartoon-like paintings of zombies and unicorns to tattoo drawings and shimmering installations of projected shadow figures.
Sophia Ainslie, “Inside Out, New Work” (Mar. 30–May 1)
When she says “new work,” Ainslie ain’t kidding. No one has seen the art she has in store for the gallery yet because she plans to create it on the spot, drawing right on the wall itself. There will also be a showing of her ink and paper drawings that combine bright colors with delicate line drawings that bring to mind Klaus Voorman’s cover for the Beatles’ Revolver.
Elise Wagner (Mar. 30–Apr. 30)
Expect paintings that simmer and smolder like running coal, boasting unusual and palpable surface textures. Elise really likes her bright oranges and burnt umbers, and with sci-fi titles like “Counter Collision Study” and “Magnetic Parallel” you almost get the impression that she’s inviting us to map out strange planets or to hang with her on the surface of the sun.
Maggie Conners (Mar. 2–Apr. 7)
Sure this gallery is a ways outside the city, but it’s worth the trip for the haunting work of Maggie Conners, a painter who works mainly in delicate, airy colors like sky blue, white and light browns. She works in clay, chalk and pencil to depict ghostly images of dancers and crowds disappearing into the ether.
Kenneth Goldstrom (Jun. 3–26)
This new gallery and exhibition space boasts a unique theme: the intersection of art and science and the “inventive mind.” Goldstein will be showing some of his strange ceramic sculptures, but the real draw is the gallery itself—the décor is a striking combination of a gleaming and modern space with an ancient aesthetic, set in a reconditioned mill building from 1880.
“Seductive Subversion: Women Pop Artists 1958 – 1968” (through Apr. 3)
Tufts University Art Gallery
This exhibit just won “Best Thematic Show Nationally” from the International Art Critics Association, and it’s easy to see why. With 68 artworks by 22 artists, its comprehensive but outstanding images (such as an electric jump rope or a prim, smiling woman holding a vacuum amid colorful wall-sized paintings) are what make you realize that there is something rare and provocative going on here.
Alberto Frigo, “Nuyole” (opens Jun. 2)
La Factoria Del Color
Artist Ivan Fernandez Goznalez, who goes by the name Coyote Painting Walls (even he admits it’s silly) continues to get away with hosting impressive gallery shows out of his flat in Fort Point. This one features Italian artist Frigo presenting his work “Nuvole,” an installation based around the concept of movement.