In SoWa Art + Design District, video gallery brings art to the sidewalk 24/7

“The experience of art in a traditional gallery tends to be somewhat restrictive,” she said. “We want to throw as many barriers as possible to the experience of art, and it’s something that we can do easily that brings art to people – literally where they are, on the sidewalk, on the way. . “

The first work, “Out of Nowhere” by Melissa Shaak, debuted in January, Craig said. After that, the gallery partnered with the Boston LGBTQIA + Artist Alliance to showcase the work of five local transgender artists for the “Trans Experimental” exhibition, which runs from mid-February to mid-April.

“It was kind of an experiment – completely an experiment – to see what would happen,” said Craig, who co-founded the Contemporary Art Gallery in 2011. “And then we just made an open appeal.”

A still image of "I am," a video artwork by Claudia Ruiz Gustafson.
A still image from “I Am”, a video artwork by Claudia Ruiz Gustafson.Claudia Ruiz Gustafson

Videos should be less than 10 minutes long and be quiet because monitors cannot play audio. Craig said the gallery has been “inundated with submissions”, with more than 100 coming from around the world. Often, the work of several artists will be exhibited over a period of time.

“There just aren’t a lot of places to show experimental videos outside of some film festivals here and there,” she said. “There was this need that we didn’t even know existed and that we could fill.

Works must be “visually compelling first,” said Craig, full of hues and vivid movement. Videos range from animation to recordings of artistic performances to kaleidoscopic bursts of color.

For viewers, “It has to be gripping in a way that gets their attention and gets them to stop and stare,” Craig said.

One of the most recent videos on display was Sofie Hodara’s “Telescope Tondos”, which was on view until Christmas. Last winter, Hodara was staying at a friend’s high-rise apartment in Brooklyn and spent hours gazing through his telescope at the clear cityscape.

She decided to attach her iPhone to the telescope and take a series of live photos to “capture the arc of a day” – a basketball going through a hoop, construction workers hammering, the Statue of Liberty in a red twilight – which she then donned together.

One of the goals of the project, she said, was to document the sight, which construction would soon obscure. The other goal was to find a way to connect with the city even though it was locked inside.

A still image of "Tondos telescope," a video art work by Sofie Hodara.
A still image from “Telescope Tondos”, a video artwork by Sofie Hodara.Sophie hodara

“I felt removed,” said Hodara, assistant professor of design at Northeastern University. “This piece kind of expresses and captures the isolation I felt.”

Even though the videos should be soundless, some artists, like Claudia Ruiz Gustafson, have incorporated text into their videos. Gustafson’s video, “I Am,” premiered in May, was inspired by the ancient poem “The Thunder, Perfect Mind,” which was said to have been written from the perspective of a female deity. The video includes stanzas from the poem in subtitles.

The video, filmed on shore, shows Gustafson looking out at the horizon; let the sand fall between his fingers; cradling a bird’s wing. At times, the video flashes at its negative.

“I like to go back and bring back ideas from the past and add a contemporary twist,” said Gustafson, based in Framingham. “My goal was just to honor our femininity, the power within us – just to create a visual poem, basically, to respond to that old poem.”

The Fountain Street Gallery plans to maintain “The Sidewalk Video Gallery” indefinitely, said Craig, who was encouraged by how this project made the gallery’s work more accessible to the public.

Whether or not people walk into the gallery, “we’re going to be able to provide them with something unusual and fun to watch as they pass,” she said.

Dana Gerber can be reached at

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