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Diving into Newbury Street’s Inaugural ‘ARTWALK’

Hunt Slonem's exhibit at DTR Modern.
Hunt Slonem's exhibit at DTR Modern. By Wonjae Suh
By Wonjae Suh, Crimson Staff Writer

On April 11, amid the hustle and bustle of a Friday evening in Boston, five galleries united in a vibrant display of creativity for Newbury Street’s “ARTWALK.” From exhibiting the avant-garde pop art of Andy Warhol to the serene cityscapes of Boston, each participating gallery offered a captivating journey through the diverse realms of artistic expression.

The Guild of Boston Artists showcases the scenic, quiet beauty of Boston. The Guild was founded in 1914 by the Boston School — a group of artists who combined French academy painting with the style of impressionism.

The Guild’s exhibit featured in “ARTWALK” captured scenes of Boston in total serenity — from a landscape of the sun setting over Boston Common to a boat of rowers passing through the Charles River against a backdrop of Harvard University. When asked what made this exhibit special, Alexander Ciesielski, The Guild’s director, explained how The Guild uniquely prioritizes “skill and quality of work” instead of abstraction, focusing on “representational” art that truly highlights the homeliness and subdued charm of the Boston area. Whereas other exhibits participating in the event include the work of artists who might be more famous or “cutting-edge,” it is worth pausing and appreciating The Guild of Boston Artists’s unique spot as a home of traditional, yet evocative, artistic expression which celebrates the timeless allure of Boston’s landscapes and cityscapes.

While The Guild of Boston Artists prioritizes elevating smaller, local artists who primarily worked in the realm of representational art, DTR Modern — a contemporary art gallery that has locations in Boston, Palm Beach, Washington D.C., and New York — specializes in blue-chip, avant-garde artwork by very famous artists such as Banksy, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, and Jean-Michel Basquiat, to name a few. Gallery director Miranda Girard explained how a lot of these artists are coming from “different areas of the United States” and also abroad.

Bringing a contemporary edge to Newbury Street, DTR Modern showcases a plethora of heavy hitters: Campbell La Pun, Francisco Valverde, and Damien Hirst, among others. The backroom is dedicated to Hunt Slonem, “a favorite in our Boston gallery,” Girard said. Each wall was filled to the brim with frames of multicolored rabbits; their simple shape was expressed in a wide rainbow of colors filled every corner of the room. DTR Modern’s showcase of such art underscores the gallery’s pivotal role in enriching the eclectic atmosphere “ARTWALK” from a contemporary perspective.

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While the aforementioned galleries showcase art collected from a diverse catalog of many distinct artists, the Sitka Home Art Gallery showcased the work of only one man.

“He [Sitka] does from beautiful florals to abstracts to watercolors to hand-painted pillows, and he just doesn’t stop painting. This is our gallery and his studio, so he’s here painting every day — also just creating whatever he’s feeling from his heart to his soul and then out through his hand,” said Helaine of her husband, Sitka.

Sitka's paintings at Sitka Home Art Gallery on Newbury Street.
Sitka's paintings at Sitka Home Art Gallery on Newbury Street. By Wonjae Suh

Though The Guild of Boston Artists has about 100 years of history to its name, The Copley Society of Art is America’s oldest nonprofit art organization. Gallery coordinator Nina Mollo described it as “our collaboration with the MFA Boston,” as the gallery features works created by staff at the MFA, “who explore the idea of perspectives,” according to the exhibit’s website.

Lastly, the Childs Gallery is one of the oldest galleries in Boston and the oldest continually running gallery on Newbury Street. The gallery’s curator, Kathryn Fields, described the exhibit’s collection of Robert Freeman paintings that showcase a recent trip to Ghana that he took with his wife.

“This is a painting series that he did that was inspired by his reaction to being in Ghana and going to these what are called slave castles, and slave castles were outposts where enslaved people would be held until they were basically shipped off to the Americas. So, in a lot of these paintings, you see doorways, portals, and these are called ‘doors of no return,’” Fields said.

Freeman fixates on these doors as a final “transitional space” through which an enslaved person would travel, Fields described. Though it’s similar to The Guild in how it focuses on a specific idea, the Childs Gallery is unique in the challenging subject matter it confronts.

The “ARTWALK” on Newbury Street presents a beautifully diverse range of galleries, across a spectrum of representational to avant-garde, local to blue-chip, and focused to multifaceted. With each gallery bringing its unique perspective, the event celebrated the richness of what one might find in the Boston art scene.

—Staff writer Wonjae Suh can be reached at

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