“I think we’re at a sort of watershed moment in Boston,” says Russell LaMontagne, who was co-owner of the hot-shot LFL Gallery in New York (which shows Dana Schutz, who had a major Rose Museum retrospective in 2006). LaMontagne opened a gallery at 51 Melcher Street in Fort Point last spring; after his landlord pushed him out, he reopened in January in a second-floor space that he bought at 555 East Second Street in South Boston. “Boston has put a lot of money into these art museums. I don’t know if it makes sense to have great contemporary museums without great contemporary galleries. You need to have a dialogue between the two. The point is: how are you going to introduce young artists?”
Many in the city’s arts community were insulted when a December 2007 Boston Foundation report on the area’s arts and culture non-profits stated, “If a non-profit lacks a clear vision, struggles to attract an audience, and cannot grow to a larger scale to realize a greater vision and increase support, it should consider exiting the market or merging.” The report didn’t address for-profits, but the combo of expired leases and a gloomy economy makes it almost seem that some commercial galleries are following its recommendation.
Kathleen Bitetti, executive director of the non-profit Artists Foundation, says that agencies and institutions like the Massachusetts Cultural Council and the Boston Foundation focus their attention — and grants — on non-profits and/or individual artists but pay little attention to commercial galleries. She feels that this needs to change. “There’s all this talk of the ‘creative economy,’ and yet this key piece of these small businesses that actually sell this stuff is left out. How do we keep this piece?”
: Museum And Gallery
, Visual Arts, Institute of Contemporary Art, Stephanie Walker, More