The Field Guide: Art in Boston

IN THE SOUTH END

BROMFIELD GALLERY

560 Harrison Ave., 4th Floor (T: Broadway)

Wed-Sat: 12-5 p.m.

617-451-3605

This stalwart cooperative gallery, founded in 1974, shows the work of its members along with the occasional outsider. While some of the members work in sculpture, photography and digital imagery, painting is dominant, representational, abstract expressionist and in-between. I think of art-teacher art and art-student art as the two basic varieties of middling art; much of the art here has the sluggish, hard-earned competence of the art teacher. Bromfield is not to be sniffed at, however; Dale Kaplan's recent exhibition of paintings on Mexican chewing-gum boxes was very enjoyable.

Through Dec. 18: Still Life, 1999 (Lucy Barber, Myrna Beecher, Joseph Byrne and others)

FIRST EXPRESSIONS GALLERY

39 Thayer St. (T: Broadway)

Wed-Sun: 12-5 p.m.

617-695-2808

www.firstexpressions.org

First Expressions distinguishes itself from other non-profit galleries by being dedicated solely to student artwork in juried group shows. Drawing mostly on the Museum School, UMass Boston, and the Art Institute of Boston, First Expressions provides Boston's massive art student population with a unique forum for exhibition and sale. While they have not shown work by Harvard students within recent memory, they have done so in the past and VES concentrators are encouraged to give it a shot. This is also a great place for the less than wealthy to play art collector: the pieces exhibited are comparatively dirt-cheap. November's memorable show featured an enjoyable melange of photography, painting and found-object creations on the theme of "Natural Elements," promising good things to come.

Through Dec. 22: Holiday sale of prints

Jan. 8-31, 2000: "Balancing Act," a group show focusing on form, structure and design. Curated by Brendon Downey, director of Oni Gallery.

KINGSTON

37 Thayer St. (T: Broadway)

Wed-Sat: 12-5 p.m.

617-423-4113

In operation since 1982, Kingston Gallery is a non-profit artist-run cooperative exhibiting work of all media. Situated in close proximity to such prominent commercial galleries as Bernard Toale, Clifford-Smith and Genovese/Sullivan, it holds its own with substantive shows such as November's solo exhibition of Janet Hansen Kawada's powerful, near-animate creations of felt, wool and wire.

Through Jan. 15, 2000: "Twice Removed," paintings and computer-generated works by Liz Marran

MILLS GALLERY

539 Tremont St. (T: Back Bay/South End)

Wed and Sun: 1-4 p.m., Thu-Sat: 1-4 p.m. and 7-10 p.m.

The Mills Gallery is a facility of the Boston Center for the Arts, a large non-profit which also runs the Cyclorama, various theaters and over 50 artists' studios in the South End. The well-curated exhibitions emphasize the contemporary and the local. In the current show, Boston-based artist Sheila Pepe has stretched great drips and webs of crocheted yarn across the room. From what I gather, crochet is the medium of the moment; see, for example, the work of Seong Chun. Pepe also plays with casting shadows, created by found-object mini-sculptures, across her childlike drawings. A limber, nimble exhibition.

Jan. 6, 2000: Talk by Sheila Pepe, 7-9 p.m.

Through Jan. 16, 2000: Sheila Pepe, "Strings, Things and Pictures"

IN FORT POINT

FORT POINT ART COMMUNITY (FPAC) GALLERY

300 Summer St. (T: South Station)

Mon-Fri: 10 a.m.-3 p.m., Sat: 12-5 p.m.

617-423-4299

The Fort Point Art Community Gallery, like the Revolving Museum and Mobius nearby, is a combination studio and exhibition space, with six-week-long shows of two or more artists. For the opportunity to peek at artists' works-in-progress, be sure to catch the weekend of open studios FPAC holds every year in mid-October.

MOBIUS

354 Congress St., 5th Floor (T: South Station)

Wed-Sat: 12-5 p.m.

617-542-7416

Founded in 1977 and in Fort Point since 1983, Mobius is one of Boston's oldest alternative venues for art. Exhibitions by Mobius's own members as well as a range of regional, national and international artists rotate on a three-week schedule, while performances are held regularly on weekends. With art that runs the gamut from sound, video and installation pieces to spoken word and other genre-bending work, expect the unexpected and don't be surprised to stumble upon (and be asked to participate in) the occasional performance piece. Director Jed Speares, staff members and artists are uniformly friendly and welcoming.

Through Dec. 12: "Works in Progress #43"

Through Dec. 24: "Relax!", a "cryptic video environment" by Iain Mitchell

Dec. 16-18: "flying and flowing," a performance by David Franklin and Milan Kohout, 8 pm

Dec. 28-Jan. 8, 2000: "white rice," a performance and installation by Donna Coppola

Jan. 5-29, 2000: an installation by Jon Luckett

Jan. 12-Feb. 5, 2000: "eating the wall street journal," an installation and performance by William Pope

THE REVOLVING MUSEUM

288-300 A St. (T: South Station)

Tue-Fri: 12-6 p.m., Thu: 12-8 p.m.

617-439-8617

www.revolvingmuseum.org

The Revolving Museum came into being in 1984 when founder Jerry Beck and fellow artists transformed 12 abandoned railroad cars into a lively venue for visual and performance art. Luckily, they have since found lodgings in an abandoned warehouse in Fort Point large enough to accommodate two gallery spaces and 50 artists' studios. Despite such switches, this sporadically nomadic institution continues its commitment to sharing "adventurous" contemporary art with the general public through an admirable number of community outreach and school programs. Boasting an impressive roster of guest curators, The Revolving Museum also shows reliably interesting exhibitions by regional and member artists. Make the trek to see the art--and to chat with the resident artists wandering genially about the halls.

On view now is a sampler of works by member artists Jackie Bayne, Tom Cole, Michael Long, Erica Moody, Steve Morell, Rebecca Tasker and Mitch Rosenberg, selected by Bernie Toale of the Bernard Toale Gallery. Of note are Steve Morell's precious schoolroom-esque doodles and Tom Cole's incisive installation art-cum-social commentary. Next year, watch for an all-student show curated by Howard Yezerski of Yezerski Gallery.

Through Dec. 30: "Inner Workings: Selected Revolving Museum Studio Artists;" "Out of the Box," new paintings by Danny O

Jan. 26-May 1, 2000: "Revelation for Revolution," juried by Rebecca Hoffberger, founder/director of the American Visionary Art Museum

IN JAMAICA PLAIN

BAD GIRRLS STUDIOS

209 Green St. (T: Green Street)

617-971-0082

Some would have you believe Bad Girrls Studios is down and out for the count. Not so, says ebullient director Jessica Brand. Despite a recent incident that found the studios lacking an entertainment license at an opening, Bad Girrls is pushing ahead, both with its exhibition schedule and its programmatic imperative of social change.

From the manifesto gracing the studios' entrance hall to their artists' discourses of identity, gender, and politics, Bad Girrls is committed to providing a venue for all the arts, from performance to poetry readings, music and traditional visual installations. While the studios await news of their future, they continue an afternoon arts program for neighborhood girls, to give back to the Jamaica Plain community they claim has bolstered them so much.

Feb. 19-Mar. 12, 2000: Dana Rogers-Hanmer (installation)

Mar. 18-Apr. 16, 2000: "Boys' Show" (Brantner DeAtley, Justin Lieberman and others)

Apr. 22-May 13, 2000: "Girls' Show" (Christa Donner, Alida Walsh and others)

GALLERY @ GREEN STREET

141 Green St. (T: Green Street)

Wed-Sat: 12-5 p.m., Tue-Thu: 6-9 p.m.

617-522-0000

Now occupying a site once intended for a 7-11, Gallery @ Green Street's white space beckons from within an MBTA stop. Taking the Orange Line all the way out proves rewarding as soon as you ascend the escalators to the art, all of which is made by emerging artists. A committee of nine selects work for each show, and offerings usually feature two or three artists.

Currently in the midst of their annual capital campaign, the gallery is showing 100 works donated by 100 artists, each $100. Most pieces are small format, with a predominance of Paul Caulfield-esque Op-Art canvases. Save up your Dorm Crew earnings to purchase Juliann Cydylo's fanciful "Edwardian Encounter" cutout.

Through Dec. 11: "100 x 100" exhibition preview; sale begins Dec. 11 at 8 p.m.

IN CHINATOWN

ONI GALLERY

84A Kingston St., 5th Floor (T: Chinatown)

Thu: 4-7 p.m., Sat: 12-5 p.m.

617-542-6983

A small but worthy gallery, Oni was founded in 1998 and recently moved next door and five floors up from its original site. Currently showing is "Formula," an exhibition of New York-based artists rounded up by one of Oni's original founders, Cheyney Thompson, who migrated there recently. Thompson's "1839," a series of acrylic paintings of woodbeam-and-brick cross-sections on transparent organza, exposes infrastructural delicacy. Also with Nathan Carter, Daniel Lefcourt, Tim Seiber and Bettina Sellman, whose installation, "the absence of dreaming," encases mute forms in satin.

Through Dec. 20: "Formula" (N.Y.-based artists)

IN CAMBRIDGE

OUT OF THE BLUE GALLERY

168 Brookline St. (T: Central)

Fri-Sun: 12-5 p.m.

617-354-5287

www.out-of-the-blue.addr.com

Out of the Blue is a fledgling "art service organization" with a snug little clubhouse seven blocks down from the Middle East. Besides hanging work in their own space, they like to hold mini-exhibitions of local artists in unlikely places around Central Square (US Trust Bank, Au Bon Pain, 1369 Coffeehouse) by means of which they hope to ambush the unsuspecting passerby with art. They offer figure drawing on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday evenings at $8 a pop. This gallery is so supportive and cozy as to be nearly maternal, and, if you make a call and go over with a proposal and some slides, you just might get a show.

Through Dec. 24: December Art and Craft Fair, Margarete Koehler-Bittkow (Bauhaus member)

ZEITGEIST GALLERY

312 Broadway (T: Central)

Thu-Sun: 2-7 p.m.

617-876-2182

Much more clubhouse than gallery, Zeitgeist provides all counter-cultural necessities: vegetarian potluck dinners on Mondays, poetry readings on Mondays, figure drawing on Wednesdays, jazz on Thursdays and improvisational jazz on Fridays. The director says that he likes multimedia art and installations, preferably "non-traditional" and "politically involved." Currently showing are garish, clumsy paintings by David Grossack and Michael Hallaren. A billboard on the side of the Harvest Co-op in Central Square ("The Zeitgeist Artboard: Gallery of the People's Republic of Cambridge") offers additional exhibition space for local artists.

Dec. 11: Emil "Dr. T" Tobenfeld's SOUND/IMAGE Incorporated, 8:30 p.m.-12:30 a.m.

IN SOMERVILLE

BRICKBOTTOM GALLERY

1 Fitchburg St. (T: Lechmere)

4-8 p.m. daily

Off a stretch of overpass in the invisible industrial outlands, unmarked, the Brickbottom Gallery is in a most unlikely location. But, in a building where more than 150 artists live and work, the gallery is self-sufficient, needing no urban foot-traffic. The exhibition space shows artists both resident and alien, often in a salon format.

Through Dec. 23: December store

Jan. 6-30, 2000: "Drawn From Life" (group show)

Feb. 5-27, 2000: "Eye For Nature" (photographs by Kay Kanavino, sculptures and prints by Rose Shechet Miller, paintings by Diane Novetsky and Martha Stone)

Mar. 4-26, 2000: "The Forest Project" (an installation by Jane Arabas)