By Danielle Messler
Nestled in a neighborhood typically associated with the MFA is a hidden gem for those seeking a more personal kind of art.
Yes Oui Si Space, a multi-sensory gallery founded by two 20-somethings, has provided an eclectic community space since November 2010. As a space to express a range of art, YOS has hosted over 13 in-house curated shows featuring 300 emerging artists, 200 concerts and film screenings, poetry readings—even yoga. This space has truly seen it all.
After gaining experience by putting together “guerrilla art shows” and showcasing independent local artists, co-founder Olivia Ives-Flores recalls “the point in the evolution of our events where we realized we could handle a real space. We could take it on.” A few weeks later, YOS was born.
The simple mission of YOS was to “create an urban meeting place for artists and musicians and young talent in Boston where the creative and the collectors can come and meet— It’s kind of like a clubhouse,” Ives-Flores recounted. The little space quickly gained attention and news spread of a fun nightspot where anyone could see their favorite Pratt Street basement band while rubbing elbows with some of the city’s hottest new artists and culture creatures.
In February the venue hosted a secret, sold-out show featuring local bands Bad Rabbits and the Dirty Dishes. They had to turn over 300 people away. Ives-Flores remembers that as one of her favorite nights at YOS, remarking that the event was “the perfect example of the evolution of Yes Oui Si—an artists collective that came out of the woodwork.”
Despite the success of the past year and a half, Ives-Flores and co-founder Miguel De Braganca recently announced a summer hiatus with unclear plans for the future of the space.
“Yes Oui Si is a labor of love and it’s hard for it to support itself,” Ives-Flores said of the potential closing.
The space has seen a varied series of challenges, and while the team is adamant about the necessity of meeting places that bring young people together in Boston, the city is still somewhat hostile to the idea.
Salim Akram of the Bad Rabbits spoke of the importance of spaces like YOS in Boston.
“I think having places to organically grow music and art is important to any music and art scene and YOS definitely creates that alternative and unique music/art experience,” he said.
The importance of a space like YOS is evident. Boston is a city teeming with young, talented people, but has an abundance of traditional galleries and clubs that are typically inaccessible to emerging artists.
“It’s great as an artist, whether you are established or not, to be able to have events and shows where the emphasis isn’t on trying to pack a club, but more so on people having a good time and wanting to be a part of something that is unique,” said Akram. “The concert and art show experience in Boston can be very corporate and stale.”
For now, Ives-Flores wants to start a conversation about the future. “What I really want to do is ask Boston, why does art make your city a better place and what can you do to support that?”
Answering her own question, Ives-Flores suggests a gathering of the minds between emerging young artists in Boston to solidify the scene.
“Those artists are translating our time and they have their fingers on the pulse. It’s really the artists and the musicians that are taking the temperature and manifesting it,” she said.
It would be a great loss to the culture of Boston to let Yes Oui Si go. I personally attended the Bad Rabbits and Dirty Dishes show, and it is without a doubt one of my greatest Boston memories.
“Keep us on your radar because we’re going to be out there trying to stir stuff up as much as possible,” Ives-Flores said.
Photo and video by Ricky Gonzalez
About Danielle -- I am a 20-something-year-old New England native that is curious about the world around me. I love to travel and have spent time living in Udaipur, India, and London, England, and I plan to call many other places home.
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