Dreaming Flora on Beacon Hill

 By Susanne Beck

Ask most Beacon Hill residents to name the area’s closest spaces for art and chances are they will quickly point to the Seaport’s Institute for Contemporary Art (ICA) or slightly further afield, the internationally known Museum of Fine Arts or the incomparable Isabella Stewart Gardiner Museum. They might throw in one or two of the shrinking number galleries on Newbury Street as well.

Little do many know though that just steps off of the Boston Commons is a pint-sized option in their backyard: the Suffolk University Gallery (also known as a museum), located on the 6th Floor of the Frank Sawyer Building at 8 Ashburton Street.

Residents will have a chance to see the space for themselves when the gallery opens its next show to the public on June 11. With the seasonally appropriate title Dreaming Flora: Artists and Flowers, features several local artists exploring the many forms and meanings of bud-laden plants. The exhibit formally kicks off on June 13 at 5:30 pm with a talk, Speaking of Flowers, featuring the artists talking about their love of flowers. A reception follows.

Museum director, Deborah Davidson, explained that the structure of this show is very much in keeping with her own approach to art and with her charge from the gallery board: to maximize connections, whether between academic disciplines, communities, or often, the abstract and more concrete aspects of daily lives. She chose the handful of creatives knowing that their work highlights the harmony that can be found in seeming dissonance. It is the same philosophy she practices in her non-profit, Catalyst Conversations, that hosts discussions amongst a wide array of creatives, from scientists to visual artists to musicians and beyond, uniting them in unexpected ways.

In further describing the show, Davidson notes, that flowers are evocative for cultures around the world. They can be used to express highs and lows, transformation, renewal – and death. The participating artists work in a variety of medium to interpret the same.

Among those featured in the early summer event are:

• Mary Kocol, presenting her Botanica series, a contemplative look at the garden, as a timeless place to dwell, refresh, and think about the profound yet fleeting beauty in the plants around us.

• Vaughn Sills, with a series of photographs she calls poems. “A moment, an image, metaphor. And in each one, I feel both joy and sorrow, intertwined – just as I do in my life.”

• Robin Reynolds, showcasing her en plein-air depictions of her multi-dimensional garden space. “My subject and my sanctuary.”

• Kirstin Lamb, offers highly detailed creations that she calls “embroidery paintings, [featuring] images of floral wallpaper cropped from French wallpaper of the 17th, 18th and 19th century.”

• Amy Laskin, surrealistic and mythical nonrepresentational figures presented in a cogent way to suggest something phantasmagorical. (edited version of artist’s statement)

Davidson notes that thanks to its higher education connection, the Gallery serves both a pedagogical role and a culturally relevant one to the university community and the city beyond. As such in addition to the regularly scheduled exhibits of local artists, every year the space is home to all undergraduate and graduate student exhibits, designed and installed by faculty and students. The Gallery also curates a faculty exhibit biennially, organized according to a chosen theme.

The Flowers show will remain in place until July 22. For more information, log on to the Gallery’s website at suffolk.edu/cas/centers-institutes/art-gallery, or use the contact information below.

Suffolk University Gallery

Sawyer Building, Sixth floor

MAP: 8 Ashburton Place

Boston, MA 02108

Closed on university holidays and weekends

 Summer Gallery Hours 2024:

M-TH 11-3, and by appointment

To make an appointment contact: [email protected]

or text 617-816-1974

Susan Beck is a freelance writer.

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