Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring in Jamaica Plain - 1st Thursdays!

It's gorgeous outside, and Jamaica Plain took advantage. Residents and visitors strolled the neighborhood's Centre/South district to check out local galleries, get some (free) booze here and there, catch a minimum of three bands performing with instruments unknown to anyone but Europhiles and carnival lovers, and maybe even buy something.

Generally speaking, the local marketing brainchild of Centre/South Main Streets didn't disappoint.

As per usual, Hallway Gallery stood out in a crowd. Gallery owner Brent Refsland has an excellent eye for the local and interesting, and the current collection may have been the best yet. P.M. Allen managed to make illustrations of local scenery made on an iPhone significantly better than it sounds when I say it out loud, presenting a really present and modern collection. Melanie Blood's almost skeletal creations were eerie and beautiful. P.M. Allen's pieces were both old and new in style, but consistent in their high quality.

The real show stealer was Aaron North. With what appeared to be pens, paints, and paper melded with wood and wheat paste, Mr. North produced a number of social scenes among Anthropomorphs that is worth the trip to the neighborhood no matter where you are in town. (And with $1 oyster Thursdays back at VeeVee, you should probably come anyways).

Aviary was also looking good. Danielle Spurge's stitched pieces were simple and lovely, and while the paintings/collages featured (I missed who did these) were not terribly appealing to me specifically, I could certainly understand their value. They just weren't exactly my taste.

Aviary also has a little table in the back full of books, including many from local artists and writers. I didn't get enough time to explore that, but I'd very much like to read some of the local works, and was thrilled to see people doing that.

Monumental Cupcakes had a really fun series of pictures - many requiring old 3d glasses to view - of rock shows, a tin man, and some staged images that could have been porn if they had any nudity in them. Particularly unsettling (read: my favorite piece in there) of a woman in a refrigerator snarling at the camera in throwback red-and-blue pop-out begged to make it to my wall. Alas, I'm a poor person. Other spaces within the bakery showed off Sex Pistols inspired pieces that may or may not have lacked any real merit, but were really fun nonetheless.

The dud was UForge Gallery. I'm going to be honest. I had my reservations about UForge before I went in. I had missed the first show of the "assignment" issuing gallery. It's theme of art deco seemed like a drab class assignment by an uninventive history teacher in the midwest who had what he perceived as the misfortune of having to teach art class due to budget cuts. This month's assignment, "remembering Andy Warhol," didn't make me much more hopeful. It did not let me down in letting me down, either. A series of pieces derivative of Warhol's famous and long clich├ęd silk screen prints and Campbell's Soup cans conjured the feeling one gets when his mom calls him from Target to tell him that she's found something "perfect for your apartment."

I don't mean to beat up on them too much, but in a neighborhood that is starting to really show quality work, a gallery that is so reminiscent of the stale Cape Cod-esque set feels out of place and disappointing.

Music was also on. Performances in City Feed & Supply and Dame were folksy and great, giving people something to watch and adding an impeccably appropriate soundtrack to the streets.

My wife and I grabbed some eats at James's Gate and made our way through all of it. Most places had wine or other refreshments. A few drinks in, along with a few bucks in drink donation jars, it was an enjoyable evening for sure. Rarely do I walk around my neighborhood thinking "I wish more people were here." Today was one of those days.