Boston may not be known for its thriving art scene, but it's suddenly home to two new gallery spaces in the Fenway alone. For that reason (if only that reason), there's actually cause to be glad the economy is in decline.
The only catch: there's no telling how long these new spaces could be sticking around.
Faced with plenty of open real estate in the neighborhood, Oliver Mak, Jay Gordon, and Dan N. (co-owners of the sneaker boutique Bodega) decided to convert a vacant Brookline Avenue storefront and an abandoned Boylston Street gas station into invitingly spare, white-walled "pop-up" art venues. They call their effort the Fourth Wall Project, and drew inspiration from places like Paris and London, where shuttered stores are frequently used for temporary art exhibitions.
"The idea was to take spaces that are scheduled for development," says Gordon, "and turn them into something of use in the meantime. Whether it's a year, two years, three years, or whatever, it's gonna be fun for that time."
The fun starts on Saturday, February 7, with a photo exhibit and book signing celebrating the publication of Nathan Nedorostek and Anthony Pappalardo's Radio Silence: A Selected Visual History of American Hardcore Music. That's at the 132 Brookline gallery, the Spartan but sizable former storefront with space for a DJ, a small kitchen, and a VIP lounge. (Fourth Wall is helped by a "generous lease" from Samuel & Associates, the Fenway developer behind the Trilogy and 1330 Boylston buildings, says Mak.)
The dormant gas station at 1305 Boylston, with its garage doors and its smallish glassed-in office, offers even more intriguing re-contextualizing possibilities. A screening of the film Mind Field, sponsored by Mission Hill's Orchard Skate Shop, is scheduled there for Friday, February 6. After that, Mak and Gordon envision a place that could host transient exhibits, art installations, a boutique, or even an artist-in-residence space.
With artists being forced out of creative redoubts such as Fort Point (see "Artists Get the Shaft," News & Features, January 30), "we just thought it was kind of time" for this sort of creative proactiveness, says Mak.
On February 20, following the Radio Silence exhibit, Somerville's Independent Fabrication will showcase custom-made bicycles. Exhibits by artists Greg LaMarche and Todd James are also on the horizon. And when the annual Boston Cyberarts Festival happens in April, both Fourth Wall spaces will help host.
There's even talk — given both buildings' proximity to heavy Fenway Park foot traffic — of a sports-themed exhibit featuring vintage baseball memorabilia. Until then, Gordon doesn't mind the uncertainty surrounding the current Fourth Wall galleries' longevity. "I would love to keep moving around," he says. "That's part of the fun."
In this economy, he could find himself with plenty more empty spaces in which to set up shop.
The opening party for Radio Silence will take place on Saturday, February 7, at 7 pm at 132 Brookline Avenue, Boston. The event is free and all ages are welcome. For more info, visit fourthwallproject.com.