About Kingston Gallery

Kingston Gallery features contemporary art by New England artists specializing in a diverse range of media including painting, photography, sculpture, and installation. The 30+ Kingston artists exhibit in our three on-site gallery spaces; the Main Gallery, Center Gallery, and Kingston Project Space. Kingston is an artist-run gallery space incorporated in 1982 and supporting a schedule of 22 shows per calendar year plus several special events and group shows. Kingston Gallery takes its name from its original location on Kingston Street near Boston's Chinatown. In the mid-1990s, the gallery was one of the very first to relocate to Thayer Street, anchoring what has since developed into the vibrant SoWa Arts District of Boston's historic South End.

Re:Figuring The Body (one curator’s notes): Chantal Zakari

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When we first came up with the idea for this show we didn’t have any set expectations on how we were going to define the parameters of the exhibition. We live in a political climate of extremes: Trump yells “grab them by the pussy” while the incoming freshman class in college protests that their gender does not fit the neatly organized boxes in application forms. We wanted to include many kinds of social constructs that define the body, from gender identity to class differences, race and heritage, since they are all part of the interlocking systems of power that defines the body.

Five Kingston Gallery members took on this project, Mary Lang, Nat Martin, Conny Goelz Schmitt, Ann Wessmann and me, and understandably we each brought our own artistic interests to the selection and curatorial process. I don’t want to diminish the collaborative vision that we developed as a curatorial team, the show is strong in its entirety, but due to time and space limitations I will discuss here a few of my favorite pieces and themes.

We started with Trump, and found Kathleen Kneeland’s response “Grasp This!” a pink vagina beautifully crafted out of rose canes and thorns. And then, Loraine Sullivan’s “Lift and Separate” which takes its title from an old bra advertisement, was made in response to Dr. Christine Ford’s testimony during the Brett Kavanaugh hearings. Both of these responses are visceral and direct: voicing our collective frustration and anger.

 

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However, as a curator I felt that much of the process was about juxtaposing work to create a wider narrative, beyond Trump’s politics, to approach it from an intersectional perspective and collect works that reflect the complexities of defining body politics today. Michael Costello’s two separate pieces, for me stood out as a diptych. The portraits are of the same person but their bodies seem to be a collage of various different person’s body parts. The faces too, express different psychological states of mind. In one, the figure is posing deliberately, exposing genitals to the audience, almost like an old-fashioned pin-up poster. In the other drawing, the genitals are hidden in a more calculated pose. I get the feeling that this might even be an image of someone looking at their own reflection in the mirror. Both are performative acts, exaggerated by a clown like white powdered face and orange hair (not surprised to see that Michael has also made many drawings of clowns). To the right of Costello’s drawings, Russell Gibson’s sculpture of a body hangs from the ceiling like grapes, or a lifeless puppet? This puppet is not performing. Legs are mostly what defines this shape. Sexy puppet with hairy legs? I am drawn to the uncanny quality of these limbs. According to Russell these are two bodies coming together, but I imagine that if the sculpture was hanging a bit lower it could walk on all fours.

 

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Across the room Natasha Moustache’s photograph of a non-binary body in bed is intimate and lovingly shot. Although not revealing a face, the reclining nude is well aware of “the gaze” of the photographer and willingly exposes a gender fluid pose. The image is in black and white but I can almost imagine the warm light in the room as the backdrop for this performance. Pair this with another homage to Judith Butler, Nick Papa’s painting where he rotates Christ on the cross to make him recline for his queer gaze. Here Nick’s self-portrait is in conversation with the eroticized Christ. He has represented himself innocent, a sweet butterfly belly ring and his own actual whitie-tighties. You can almost imagine him as a teen sitting in a church pew looking at the paintings instead of reciting prayers. The memory of the oversized nails on the cross and the blood, inspired him to hanged this small painting with a huge nail and a red string.

 

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As in Nick’s paintings, the tension between humor and struggle also is apparent in Skylar Borgstrom’s drawing of a bird perched on a little boy’s head. Right out of a comic book, this drawing seems to have all the requirements for being fun and funny, until you notice the puddle under the boy’s feet. Is this a puddle of tears, or in his fear and anxiety did he wet himself? The closer you look at the figure the lonelier he becomes as a drawing in the middle of a giant piece of paper. The title “Boys Don’t Cry”, is for a colorfully dressed but timid and vulnerable person.

 

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In the center gallery is Jennifer Boisvert’s marble bust with Brian Reeves’ 3D printed navel necklaces. Boisvert has created a gender neutral bust, where the focus is the spine which has been embellished with a tattoo design. Referencing classical sculpture, this torso is made out of a cool marble. But unlike the heroic Roman figure, this one is slightly curved in a pained posture. Adjacent to this, Brian Reeves complements the austere marble and granite with colorful 3D resin sculptures. Brian’s piece is a complete designed commodity, including the packaging and the retail store presentation, a piece of wearable art. Unafraid of commenting on the “art world” this “EZGaze Omphalos” (Greek for navel), is certified to be “an unlimited edition”, “interactive”, “certified masterwork” and has a “soothing symmetry”. It comes in different skin colors, including two shades of very bright pinks. While wearing it as a necklace if you get tired of gazing at your own navel, you also have the option of sliding in one of the three “mini master works” also made by the artist himself. Perfect gift for a few artist friends you have? It is also “affordable art”. Buy one, maybe not even in your own skin color?

 

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Move away from the rainbow of navels to a very black body bound to a chair. Red blood vessels explode out of the chest. Jeffrey Nowlin’s figure made out of reclaimed fabric is heavy and static. The body is defined by crippling illness. Diagonally across the room we have a performance piece by Keegan Shiner, that will be activated during the two opening receptions, July 12 and August 2. It should be a spectacle centered around the idea of multi-tasking and art as labor. Keegan will be painting, a-la-Pollock, in public, while playing a video game, talking on the phone and getting his cardio exercise on a stationary bike. Forget about meditating in the studio and waiting for inspiration to descend, Keegan is a post-studio artist multi-tasking. Art is hard work, and Keegan will sweat making it. He leaves behind his oeuvres, a series of paintings to prove that he has put in a fair amount of labor.

Labor is also part of Rene Galvan’s readymade. The Dolce & Gabbana suit jacket which hangs from a closet hook can only be dry cleaned, as the title of the piece suggests. Fancy suit, requires fancy cleaning. But this suit has a name tag patch, the size a mechanic would wear. It says, “Hired Help”. Although the body is physically absent here, the narrative points at the labor and economic divide.

 

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Back to Trump…

Written by Chantal Zakari

Re:figuring the Body is on view at the Kingston Gallery through August 11, 2019. Receptions for the show are July 12 and August 2, from 5:00-8:00pm.

 

Conny Goelz Schmitt: Neverending Stories

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Conny Goelz Schmitt, Portrait of artist with interactive sculptures, 2019.

 

Gallery artist Conny Goelz Schmitt’s exhibition Neverending Stories is currently on view in the Kingston Project Space. The collage works are created from vintage books, carefully crafted into abstract sculptural forms and wall works. Schmitt was drawn to the faded colors and floral endpapers found in vintage books and how they evoke the past. She says of the books, “tearing off the book covers is like unwrapping presents, which always leads to surprises.” Through meditation and ritual, part of her process, Schmitt creates geometric forms from her salvaged materials in an informed but organic manner. She consciously switches between collage and sculpture while working, generating exercises, which she calls meditations, concerned with composition and color.

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Conny Goelz Schmitt, Bubbler, vintage book paper collage, 9.25×6.5×1 inches, 2018

 

When asked what she would like the viewer to experience when seeing her work, Schmitt replied, “I would like them to understand that each work is connected to the other works. There is a dialog going on as much as there are individual stories. If the work would be installed in a different way the conversation would take a different turn and the stories that unfold would present themselves differently. The medium being part of a book is repurposed not only by me, the maker, but by the viewer who interprets my geometric collages and sculptures the way they see them.” The conversations Schmitt’s work inspires are those of balance, harmony and an invitation to participate in a neverending dialog with the work.

 

Rhonda Smith: Oh That Beautiful Planet, What Have We Done? is on view in the Kingston Main and Center Galleries and Conny Goelz Schmitt: Neverending Stories is on view in the Kingston Project Space through June 30, 2019.

An Interview with Artist Rhonda Smith

11) Smith_Sulphur the Element 2Smith, Rhonda, Sulphur the Element, 2019, clay, wire, acrylic, cord, screen, net, thread,
32”H x 54”W x 14”D

What would you say is a critical part of your art practice and how does it show up in this work?

I feel burdened by the state of our planet and how we humans have been paragons of disrespect. If there is a new species missing, I feel responsible. That deep connection one feels for life took root long ago. I had an outdoor childhood, free to explore fields, streams, ponds, and woods. All the neighborhood kids played outside, winter and summer. My parents instilled in me a reverence for living things but this attitude probably came also from life itself.  My work is an exploration of natural formations. The work in my show, Sulphur, The Element, is an example. For years I tried to paint a sulphurous cloud. Now in 3D I am able to embody it. Sulphur has 8 valent points so lots of other elements can connect to it to make something new. Its vapors rising from the Campi Flegrei in Naples, Italy convinced the ancient Greeks that the entrance to hell was near. And that term, hellfire and brimstone, always describes the foreboding. Sulphur was one of the original 7 elements here at the beginning of our planet and is key in many functions including in many living organisms. But I also show the other side, what is pressing and difficult to accept. The installation in my show, Battleground: Ambition, Necessity, Ghosts, makes tangible this reality we live in, that we and a few other creatures are now the weed species and we live among lots of ghosts.

Do you have any habits or processes that occur in the studio which are unique to your practice?

I don’t think there is any process unique to my work.  I just join a stream. I don’t feel the creative process is mine. It is more like a force, not to be reckoned with, but accompanied. Mostly I try not to get in my own way. When I am very insistent about an idea the rigidity shows up immediately in the work.

I come into the studio and look at the things in progress. I made a pact with myself long ago to not hate anything I am doing. If it isn’t working just turn it to the wall. Otherwise it is too disharmonious to oneself. Then, after looking at everything, I work on a crossword for about 15 minutes; ok, sometimes half an hour. Then I start in. I can have an idea, but I will not have a sense about how it will take form.

5)Smith_Building 6.(Ghost)JPGSmith, Rhonda, Building 6 (Ghost), 2018, clay wire, and, gouache, 8”H x 2”W x 13”D

What would you want a viewer to walk away with after viewing your exhibition?

First, to be hit in the solar plexus; that place where the nerves tingle, surprise hits, feelings stir, one senses the encounter is with something different.

Second, to be haunted enough to feel again our untenable position. I feel art can do this directly without being pedantic.

 

Rhonda Smith: Oh That Beautiful Planet, What Have We Done? is on view in the Kingston Main and Center Galleries and Connie Goelz Schmitt: Neverending Stories is on view in the Kingston Project Space through June 30, 2019.

Lynda Schlosberg: Frequency Tuning and Cree Bruins & Sarah Hollis Perry: Reflecting (Then and Now)

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Schlosberg, Lynda, Not Here, Not There, acrylic on panel, 16 x 16 inches.

 

The paintings on view in the exhibition titled Frequency Tuning by Kingston gallery member Lynda Schlosberg investigate how the eye experiences the image within and through the work, as in the space between the physical and non-physical worlds. In creating this work, Schlosberg asked herself, “Is there some sort of barrier, or plane, that separates the two? Is it a chasm to be crossed? A wall to be climbed? And is it possible to adjust one’s frequency-tuning abilities to move easily between worlds, or to experience both at the same time?” Schlosberg is inspired by both natural and unnatural elements, transforming them into flowing fields of color, lines and dots.

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Schlosberg, Lynda, Love Can Break Your Heart, acrylic on panel, 40 x 30 inches.

 

There is movement and energy in these works. Each painting creates a unique tension between the foreground and background allowing the viewer to shift seamlessly between the two. Schlosberg constructs these works using a rule-based system creating complex layers resulting in a unified field of energy. Art critic Cate McQuaid, in her Boston Globe review, says of the work, “Her paintings foil expectations of space and form. Vaulting us into the unknown, they awaken the eye.”

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Bruins, Cree and Hollis Perry, Sarah, Reflecting #3, Archival Pigment ink Print, 6 x 4 inches.

 

On view concurrently in the project space, gallery member Cree Bruins and visiting artist Sarah Hollis Perry present a collaborative work, Reflecting (Then and Now), created from all-but-obsolete photographic production materials. These materials become the basis for a physical installation, which is then photographed from varying vantage points. The reflections and shadows created in the physical structure are breathtakingly reproduced in intimate archival pigment prints, framed and hung in the space. This collaborative project began in 2017 in honor of their former teacher, Joyce McDaniel.

Lynda Schlosberg: Frequency Tuning is on view in the Kingston Main and Center Galleries, and Cree Bruins & Sarah Hollis Perry: Reflecting (Then and Now) is on view in the Kingston Project Space through June 2, 2019.

 

Julie S Graham: Unexpected Places

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The current exhibition in the Center Gallery and Project Space at the Kingston Gallery, curated by gallery members Mira Cantor and Chantal Zakari, celebrates the life and work of the talented and celebrated artist, Julie S Graham. Graham’s work was inspired by her travels, wherever she went. Locally or internationally, she saw unexpected juxtapositions between spaces and things, nature and the man-made, each trying to fit together in odd combinations and special configurations. Graham had her eye on oddities, strange places, and the leftover cultures that were behind walls of memories of what had been. She built her work step by step like an architect piecing together a structure in relief, in painting or as a sculpture and this posthumous exhibition showcases her mixed-media creations to their fullest. Trained as a painter, Graham’s practice also incorporated photography, a medium which she used to explore the geometry that architecture imposes on nature.

On April 13th, the gallery hosted a gallery talk with Gerry Bergstein, Professor Emeritus, and Allison Gray, Post-Baccalaureate, MFA student and Graham’s Teaching Assistant, both of whom were colleagues of Graham from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. The event was attended by many friends, colleagues, collectors and lovers of Graham’s work and stories of her life, teaching and artwork were shared. Co-curator Mira Cantor, a Kingston member and friend, says, ‘Thanks to all who came to the talk. As curator with Chantal it was interesting to show some of Julie’s work which was not shown before and which she had so much fun doing.’ There are a few more days to see this exhibition and get to know the work of such an engaging artist, with the exhibition closing April 28th.

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Originally from Elmira NY, Julie S Graham lived and showed her work in Boston for most of her life. She participated in the Boston arts community on many levels, as an educator and a practicing artist. She was on the painting faculty at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts since 1991, has taught at Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, and the Graduate School of Design at Harvard University, Cambridge, as well as at numerous international venues. Graham led a critique group at the Maud Morgan Arts Center and served on the board of the Brookline Center for the Arts, was on the jury of Cambridge Public Arts Commission, and was the Visual Arts Editor of the Harvard Review. Graham’s work has been the subject of numerous solo exhibitions at venues such as Kingston Gallery, Chase Gallery, and Victoria Munroe Fine Art. Her work has been included in group exhibitions at Ruth Bachofner Gallery in Los Angeles, and Frederieke Taylor Gallery in New York, NY, among others. In 2007, her work was featured at the Kinkead Contemporary Gallery booth at Aqua Art Miami art fair. In 1988 she joined the Portia Harcus Gallery and in 2013 she joined Kingston Gallery where she was an active member and instrumental in gallery programming. In 2018 Julie S Graham was the recipient of the Berliner Award from the Brookline Arts Center in recognition of her contributions to art.

Jamal Thorne: Timestream Muckery is on view in the Kingston Main Gallery, and Julie S. Graham: Unexpected Places is on view in the Kingston Project Space through April 28, 2019.

An Interview with artist Jamal Thorne

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What is different or specific to your practice or creation of this work?

Some things that are really specific about my work include image content, process, and the balancing of precision with emotional reaction. The images I really enjoy working with are usually emotionally charged. In that sacred space, I am always careful and thoughtful about the changes I make to those images, because they often touch on sensitive subjects like race, income inequality, and presentation of masculinity. Knowing how important these subjects are, to approach them without clear intention would be irresponsible in my view.

This leads into the importance of my process, because I am always having to think a few steps ahead when it comes to hiding parts of an image or revealing parts of an image. In my process, I’m always thinking about what I should keep and what I should throw away in an image. The broader “guessing game” in the process is the question of how these decisions will affect each layer of content (paint, tape drawing, representational drawing) moving forward. I liken this process to the way humans process events that occurred in our past. When we think back to important experiences, what do we instinctively remember, what do we instinctively block out, and how do those decisions shape who we are today?

Finally, there’s a balancing act between letting the work evolve organically with making sure I’m comfortable with technique and composition. If it feels like there is too much control in the work it doesn’t feel genuine to me. However, I enjoy a little bit of structure and I really enjoy representational drawing. These aspects of control keep me grounded in a visual language that I know well, while the organic nature of the process keeps me excited about the endless possibilities that can unfold in the work.

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How did you begin working on this body of work? What are your inspirations?

In terms of aesthetics, I draw a lot of inspiration from painters like Jackson Pollock, Norman Lewis, and Frank Kline. When it comes to process, I take a lot of cues from artists like Mark Bradford, Cullen Washington Jr., Jack Whitten, and Leonardo Drew. I respect the looseness and spontaneity of the abstract expressionists, but I don’t think we speak the same language when it comes to content. Bradford’s process and his use of materials feels more parallel to what I am trying to express in my work. The same goes for Whitten, Drew, and Washington.

How do you want your audience to feel after viewing your work?

Ideally, I’d like for the audience to focus on the number of layers that exist in each piece first. I always hope that the audience can look at the work and see the evidence of what exists behind each layer. Whether it’s color, tape, aluminum cans, or a drawing, I try to leave at least a small piece of what existed before the creating of a new layer. If the work can put the audience in a place where they think about what exists underneath, then hopefully they will make the connection between the work and their own personal experiences. Whether it is a traumatic event or joyful experience, there is always something behind human behavior. There is always something behind our biases against ethnicities. There is always an event that shapes our values and ideals. I want viewers to look inside their pasts to figure out why their identities exist in their current form.

Jamal Thorne: Timestream Muckery is on view in the Kingston Main Gallery, and Julie S. Graham: Unexpected Places is on view in the Kingston Project Space through April 28, 2019.

Kingston Gallery’s Newest Members

Kingston Gallery is very excited to welcome and introduce our newest members Stacey Cushner, Bonnie Donahue, Jeesoo Lee, and Vaughn Sills. Each of these artists were selected from a large pool of exceptional applicants and bring a high quality of diverse artwork to the gallery. Please see below for a brief introduction:

10 Oneiric Temprament 2Cushner, Stacey, Oneiric Temperament 2, color pencil on paper, 30″ x 40″, 2018.

Stacey Cushner has exhibited her work nationally and internationally. Her drawings and sculptural installations depict the grandeur of nature and invite the viewer to look with wonder. Trees, forests and flowers are iconic and an endless font of inspiration in her pieces. Cushner says of her work, “In these drawings, I locate different textures and emphasize the shapes of trees and differing values in blue pencil and graphite to speak to their sturdiness and the capacity to withstand these times. They’re a metaphor for life.”

09_Bridge_to_nowhereDonahue, Bonnie, A Bridge to Nowhere(drone footage), documenting the trail of the Cold War Iron Curtain which is now a 12,000 km long greenspace, 2018.

Bonnie Donohue creates works of art in and about areas of conflict both nationally and internationally. She has documented militarized zones in Northern Ireland, South Africa, and most recently, Puerto Rico. These projects involve photography, personal interviews with people who lived through the transitions, and intensive archive research on the conditions that formed the militarized spaces. She is currently beginning two new projects. One is to examine and document the trail of the Iron Curtain in Europe and the other documents the American South by working with specific sites and monuments.

 

12_leejeesooLee, Jeesoo, A form of learning, mixed media on glazed clay, 13″(H) x 16″(W) x 4″(D), 2018.

Jeesoo Lee creates mixed media works on paper, canvas, wood and clay. Her work explores redefining psychological states of being through the physicality of these materials. She says of her work, “I enjoy manipulating contrasting mediums to create and explore tensions between abstract painting and contemporary practices.” She has exhibited extensively in New York and nationally including galleries in San Francisco and Covallis, OR.

A Room of Her OwnSills, Vaughn, A Room of Her Own, from True Poem Flee, 2010.

Vaughn Sills is a photographer who explores the natural world and our connections to it. She lives and works between Cambridge, MA, and Prince Edward Island, Canada. In her project titled, True Poems Flee, Sills creates a type of visual memoir dealing with the experience of grieving her mother and the connections found with her in this site. In discussing this project, she asks and says, “where exactly is that horizon? And since we can never get there, how can we get to the beyond? Perhaps that is what these photographs are about – they help me get to what lies beyond.”

Jennifer Moses: Ghost not Ghost is on view in Kingston’s Main and Center Galleries and Chantal Zakari: Cogent Message is on view in the Kingston Project Space through March 31st.