South End Galleries Host First Friday

Boston’s South End plays host to an art scene whose lifecycle pivots around the monthly openings event “First Fridays,” during which each gallery hosts a mini-gala presentation of its current exhibition. The occasion is open to the public and—as the number of supporting galleries and featured artists has grown—draws avid collectors and casually interested individuals alike. Spanning group exhibitions, individual debuts, and small-scale retrospectives, the South End galleries host a diverse mix of contemporary works throughout the month of May.

MPG Contemporary is home to Transparencies in Time, a collection of paintings and works on paper by Brigitte Keller. Her works incorporate materials that range from traditional oils to polymer egg and wax emulsions, alternately employing representational techniques as well as geometric and chromatic abstraction. Running through May 26th, this is Keller’s second solo exhibit at MPG.

Sacred Fragments is a niche exhibition hosted by the Bromfield Gallery that concentrates on a series of Laurie Alpert’s prints and artist’s books inspired by “the seductive allure of the Dead Sea Scrolls at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. She was drawn to the shapes of the fragments, as well as the beauty of the decayed sheets of leather on which they were written.” Alpert creates her books in both Japanese accordion-style foldouts and asymmetrical forms, and integrates her printmaking practices into the construction of each object. She will be hosting a gallery talk discussing her latest works on Saturday, May 19th, and the exhibition will continue through May 26th.

Also at the Bromfield Gallery, in an exhibition titled The Aura of the Multiple, Vivian Pratt is displaying parallel collections of woodcarvings next to their 3-D rapid prototype reproductions, “playing this traditional medium against cyber-sculpture…a metaphor for the struggle of the old against the new.” In each object pair, the original woodcarving is set against a second, not-quite-identical twin that was produced by scanning the original with a Polhemus scanner, the result of which was digitally modified using Maya rendering software and “printed” in 3-D. The works will remain on display through May 26th and will be augmented by a gallery talk on May 19th. This exhibition was a part of the recent Fifth Boston Cyberarts Festival.

At the Laconia Gallery, Lisa Costanzo debuts her very first solo exhibition—Snark Hunting—which will remain on display through next month’s First Friday cycle (reception June 1st), ultimately closing on June 23rd. The exhibit features an array of works in paint and on paper, all inspired by the snark, a mysterious, imaginary animal originally devised by Lewis Carroll in his 1876 nonsense poem “The Hunting of the Snark.” Costanzo divides her works into two categories, qualifying the first as “Victorian beach and hunting themes…fused together with elements of Carroll’s characters” while the second “presents a collection of playful and wacky [depictions]…which suggest what the mysterious ‘snark’ might look like.” Many of the works outline new technical experiments for the artist as she moves into larger-scale formats and confronts the nuances of working with a more limited palette.

The Bernard Toale Gallery rotates its exhibitions on a six-week cycle, so the latest exhibitions have just recently opened and will run through the end of June. The gallery has chosen to shift its focus with a triumvirate of photographers, each of whom occupies a singular, autonomous space. Greta Pratt fills out the Boston Drawing Project section of the gallery with The Lincoln Impersonators, a collection of color photographs taken of nineteen different individuals she encountered at the Association of Lincoln Presenters. “They’re not just dressing up for fun,” claims Pratt, “They go around to schools and citizens’ centers where they present these programs where they give his speeches, and they’re really trying to keep his memory alive and influence the present with his persona and character.”

Alongside Pratt, Penelope Umbrico and Tanja Hollander are showing new photographs in the first and second galleries at Bernard Toale. Both work in color and their images complement one another through their contrasting subjects—the domestic and the naturalistic. All three exhibitions run through June 30th, and will be incorporated into June’s First Friday event.

In addition to the monthly gala, May marks the annual SoWa Art Walk, during which the artist community of the South End opens their studios to the public. The invitation to visit their creative spaces extends from 11 am to 6 pm on Saturday, May 19th and Sunday, May 20th. Additionally, the SoWa Open Market runs concurrently as a venue for artists, craftsmen, collectioners, farmstands, and other vendors to make their seasonal debut. The Open Market will take place at 540 Harrison Avenue and will run from 10 am through 4 pm.