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Boston Sculptors Gallery at 20 years

Posted by Chad O'Connor  March 12, 2013 11:00 AM

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[The We are the Creative Industries series: The Creative Industries - video game companies, design, marketing and architecture firms, and talented people who write books, design houses, shoot movies, make art and record music, just to name a few examples - are an important part of Massachusetts' economy, with $1 billion statewide impact and over 100,000 workers. Click here to learn more.]

The 20th anniversary show at the Boston Sculptors Gallery revealed the vivid complexities and notable realities of artists banding together to do something. Working together is one strategy that makes things happen for artists. Artists are also a huge and important part of the larger ‘art world,’ which is made up of galleries, critics, curators and collectors. Therefore the story of the Boston Sculptors Gallery, the only sculpture collaborative in the country that maintains its own gallery space, is a shared story of the individuals that collectively make up the organizations and institutions of the arts community in this city.

Mac Dewart came to Boston from Vermont seeking artistic community, but found a dispersed environment. He started hosting annual potluck sculptor’s dinners where artists met & got to know each other. Joyce McDaniel was one of the few mid-career Boston sculptors who had representation by a top Boston area gallery, the Clark Gallery. Nevertheless, she saw an opportunity when the painting gallery at her West Newton church was disbanded. The gallery, a converted Sunday school chapel, was a beautiful open space with high vaulted ceilings-- uniquely suited to the possibility of large scale work.

"Golden Bow" by Murray Dewart

Joyce's vision was of a gallery devoted only to sculpture. In addition, the membership would be equally male and female-- Mac's sculptors' dinners having been overwhelmingly men. Joyce called Mac. The two of them decided to make it happen. Mac and Joyce reached out to the burgeoning sculptural community and found sixteen other founding members. In 1992, The Boston Sculptors Gallery was born.

The gallery has had the good fortune to attract three of the best gallery directors in the area: Ann McQueen, Anna Shapiro and Jean Mineo. They have worked with the gallery to shape this professional organization with grace and intellect. Each brought their knowledge of the workings of art institutions and their skill in working with people to help the Boston Sculptors work consistently and successfully as a group. The gallery would not be where it is today without the vision of three curators: Jen Mergel, Nick Capasso and Carol Seitchik. They have worked alongside, written about, inspired, badgered, cajoled and challenged sculptors to be better artists.

Kelly Bennett is the exhibitions curator and program coordinator for the Massachusetts. Cultural Council. Her reputation as a mover and a shaker precedes her. Through the MCC, Kelly has sponsored three exhibitions at Boston Sculptors Gallery honoring the biannual Sculpture Fellowship Winners. These shows featuring the art work of the state’s most significant sculptors created a fantastic connection with the gallery.

Mario Nicosia in conjunction with John Kiger facilitated a window of opportunity by developing the real estate on Harrison Ave 10 years ago. Inspired by their leap of faith, Boston Sculptors Gallery decided to move from the suburbs into the heart of the city. Together they have ignited this area as a focal point of creativity and arts commerce. First Fridays draws hundreds, if not thousands of people who gather, view art, greet each other and create a scene.

Peer galleries, like Gallery Kayafas, have been a foundation of the fine art world in Boston. Arlette Kayafas’s ambitions for her artists are evident in every show she presents. Likewise, Boston Convention Center’s Curator Susan Merritt has the highest regard for Boston artists. Her husband, Ed Merritt, president of Mt. Washington Bank, has partnered with the Boston Sculptors in the gallery to host events that create networking opportunities between artists, entrepreneurs and successful local professionals.

"Appealing Face" by Joyce McDaniel
In hindsight, one might say, Boston Sculptors Gallery has offered the type of mid career gallery representation that sculptors need in order to be propelled into the next level of their careers by keeping and nurturing talent in a city that often loses its best and brightest to New York. But the story of the Boston Sculptors Gallery is the story of the diversity of artworks they create. It’s about the people who absorb what they make, who think about it, argue over it, like it, hate it, are inspired by it, and remember it—and the people whose lives are altered by what happens here.

• 58 Sculptors (36 current members, 22 alumni)
• 227 exhibitions presented in gallery
• 94,000 visitors (est. thru 2012)
• 8 exhibitions off-site: Art Complex Museum (Duxbury, MA), Attleboro Arts Museum, Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Fitchburg Art Museum, University of Massachusetts Lowell, University of New Hampshire, Cite Internationale Des Arts (Paris, France), The Sculpture Center (Cleveland, OH). Three more are planned: Church of Christ, Scientist Plaza (Boston, MA in 2013), Berlin, Germany and Peru (2014).

• work in 48 o f 50 US states (excludes MS and MT)
• work in 36 foreign countries
• received 315 awards and/or fellowships
• received $202,500 in Artist Fellowships and $20,250 in awards as Finalists from State Art Agencies
• received 134 grants to create work
• received $500,000 in grants
• been involved in 81 residencies
• been in 958 reviews and articles including: Art New England (73), ArtScope Magazine (30), Boston Globe (186), Boston Herald (33), Boston Phoenix (32), and Sculpture Magazine (28)
• created 169 permanent public art works representing $1,803,300 in commissions
• created 308 temporary public art works representing $536,800 in commissions
• completed 227 private commissions representing $2,307,200 in commissions
• taught in 70 settings including colleges / universities (38), High Schools (17), and alternate venues / museums (13)
• work in over 1,100 public and private collections
• been in 433 solo exhibitions
• been in 1,921 group exhibitions

Donna Dodson graduated cum laude from Wellesley College in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts. Since 2000, Dodson has been honored with solo shows nationwide for her wood sculptures. Dodson enjoys public speaking, and has been a guest speaker in conferences, panels and forums at museums and universities in North America.

[We are thankful for Global Business Hub’s support of the Creative Industries. Please note: This article does not necessarily reflect the viewpoints of the Executive Office of Housing and Economic Development or its Creative Economy Industry Director for the Commonwealth, nor is it an endorsement of any views, products, or opinions contained therein. The author is solely responsible for the content.]

This blog is not written or edited by or the Boston Globe.
The author is solely responsible for the content.

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