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I’ll take you there
‘Site Specific’ at artSPACE @ 16; ‘My First Photo’ at the Paradise Lounge

In an unassuming, 24-by-24-foot, detached two-car garage in Malden, good art is happening. Under the innovative eye of artist/curator/organizer/director Sand T, this unlikely location is the site of art exhibitions, music performances, poetry readings, and more, all presented in a spirit of grass-roots community involvement and creative synergy, right down to the venue’s pot-luck receptions, which infuse the wine-and-cheese atmosphere of art openings with the camaraderie of a neighborhood block party. Sand T and her husband, artist Wesley Kalloch, decided to transform their garage into an exhibition space in August 2000, after being evicted from South Boston’s Fort Point artists community, where Sand T had founded (in 1998) and run the alternative S.T Gallery.

This month, the charming gallery-in-a-garage hosts "Site Specific," which, guest-curated by artist Jonathan Santos, explores the notion of location in contemporary art. On view through August 28, with a pot-luck reception this Saturday, "Site Specific" brings together five artists, Hillary Baldwin, Lior Neiger, Maria Raponi, Daniel Rich, and Lauren Warner, who hail from, respectively, Brookline, Haifa (Israel), Canada, Ulm (Germany), and Dayton, and who all reside or have recently resided in Boston, connected by their association with the Museum School. The multi-nationality of the artists is no coincidence; Santos good-humoredly identifies himself as a "New Englander/Islander," having grown up in Maine and Manila. He describes his stepfather as a stereotypical Yankee ("He built his own boat") who met the artist’s Manila-born mother while they were both working in Iran in the 1970s. This goes part way toward explaining Santos’s own complex grasp of the idea of location in art. "A lot of my own work deals with understanding ‘place,’ and a lot of artists these days are working on this idea, trying to locate their place in the world. With this show, I wanted to go beyond my own experience, to be more universal. I know I’m not alone with this observation, there are a lot of artists interested in this."

"Site Specific" looks at its subject through lenses psychological, physical, and cultural. Hillary Baldwin’s life-size papier-mâché igloo investigates an iconic dwelling in which a wide variety of cultural interpretations have taken up residence. Lior Neiger inserts an element of chance into global positioning as he uses video to set worlds spinning like cherries on a slot machine; Maria Raponi makes dioramas that re-create scenes from the movies, shrinking the oversized reality that we enter as filmgoers for intimate scrutiny. Daniel Rich paints graphic representations of politically charged spaces and architecture, creating works that are at once spatially ambiguous and specific. Lauren Warner is a painter too, but her subject matter is the unspoiled landscapes and bucolic backdrops of America’s psyche — our Great Outdoors as mediated by indoor wall murals and tourist postcards.

Snapshots from summer vacations are sure to figure in "My First Photo," the expansive, big-hearted new exhibition at the Paradise Lounge Gallery. The show, which is up through September 7, is being presented jointly with Boston University’s renowned Photographic Resource Center, whose home gallery and library are closed during August. From a snapshot of a lady in front of a big bush taken by fine-art photographer and Wellesley College professor Judith Black with a Brownie camera she bought with Bingo winnings in the early 1950s to PRC curator Leslie K. Brown’s photogram of sunglasses and shells made when she was five, this big (more than 100 photographers included), wide-ranging show promises fresh insight into our basic urge to snap away!

"Site Specific" is at artSPACE@16, 16 Princeton Road in Malden, through August 28, with a pot-luck reception this Saturday, August 14, from 4 to 7 p.m.; call (781) 321-8058 voice mail *3, or visit www.artSPACEat16.com. "My First Photo" is up at the Paradise Lounge Gallery, 969 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston, through September 7; call (978) 744-7973.

Issue Date: August 13 - 19, 2004
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