Whether the drawings in the caves at Lascaux, or a post-modern abstract in the Guggenheim, art has always nourished and animated the human spirit. So it is here at North Hill, where residents embrace art in all its forms as an essential element of a vibrant, purposeful life.
Our professional art gallery boasts 4 exhibits annually featuring distinguished artists from across the country. Our permanent collection includes works from the Danforth Museum and all past exhibitors.
Scroll down to see what’s coming, what’s on view now, and have a look at some of our past exhibitions.
Narrative Quilts by Clara Wainwright January through March 2023
Clara Wainwright became a quilt maker when her newborn son Dedalus was given an amazing 19th century crazy quilt. Her first creations were pillow covers inspired by the work of Matisse, Klee, Modigliani and Picasso, but when she moved her workplace from her guest room to a 2,000 sq. foot studio her work grew to large quilts.For the past 30 years Clara has worked with more than 50 community groups, creating collaborative quilts which explore and celebrate and heal. The quilts hang in schools, hospitals, hospices,
community centers, churches in Boston, Cambridge, Somerville, Danvers and Gloucester.
In addition to making quilts Clara was involved in creating public celebrations – The Great Boston Kite Festival in 1969 (which happened in Boston’s Franklin Park for 13 years under the auspices of The Committee for the Better Use of Air), First Night in 1976, The Boston Street Olympics, The Newbury Street Paseo Awards, The Faith Quilts Project (in response to 9/ 11, involving 27 quilt makers who worked with people of diverse faiths to create quilts which spoke of their faiths), and Mending Boston (a response to the Boston Marathon tragedy).
Her first one woman show was at the Addison Gallery, Phillips Academy, Andover in 1976. In 2002 The DeCordova Museum gave her a retrospective which dealt with her private and collaborative quilts and her public celebrations. In 2010 she had a retrospective at the Cape Ann Museum. Following in the footsteps of her father who ran Artisans on Newbury Street for many years, she organized a number of short lived stores, including The Christmas Store, The Artists’ Store, The Antique Store of the 21st Century and The Short-lived Store. Her work is in the collections of the Museum of Fine Arts, The DeCordova Museum, The Addison Gallery, The Cape Ann Museum, Mass General Hospital, Fidelity, Associated Grantmakers.
One more thing, she has created costumes for three operas.
PAST EXHIBIT: Roger Kizik: In the Summertime
Roger Kizik is a one-of-a-kind painter and builder of things on the wall and off. He lives in a barn/studio he built in South Dartmouth, MA that is fitted out with cabinets and counters made from highly varnished reclaimed art shipping crates from his time at the Rose Art Museum. He paints birds, books, fish, landscapes and objects on MDF board that he cuts to shape and hangs akimbo so they cast shadows on the wall. Roger is very conversant with art history and has included this info about the piece Brancusi’s Clubs: "Here we see the famous sculptor Constantin Brancusi, with author and provocateur Henri-Pierre Roche, avant-garde composer Erik Satie[!], and collector John Quinn’s friend, poet Jeanne Robert Foster, at Fontainebleau, 1923. Late in life Roche wrote ‘Jules and Jim’, which inspired the Truffaut film. Lawyer John Quinn was a seminal figure in support of early 20th c. art, both in legal matters and serious collecting. This appears to be the same bag, though the metal brace is now lost. Bag and clubs were a gift from Quinn. Roger has also provided a picture of Helen Frankenthaler, ceaselessly stylish in her sports car, as context for the piece Frankenthaler’s ‘Jolly’. And he notes that the ancient sandals titled 3500 B.C “were bought by the MFA in 1903 for 2 POUNDS!!!! [hope it was real sterling, not just paper scraps]” Roger has shown at Gallery Kayafas and Victoria Munroe, Nielsen, Clark, and Dedee Shattuck Galleries, the New Bedford Art Museum, the Rose Art Museum, and the Boston Museum of Fine Arts. A painter for more than four decades, Roger received a BFA at Massachusetts College of Art in 1972 after a four-year stint in the Navy.
Constantin Brancusi et al. Inspiration for “Brancusi’s Clubs” right.
Helen Frankenthaler’s sporstcar, inspiration for “Frankenthaler’s Jolly, below.
PAST EXHIBIT Theme and Variations with artists Jodi Colella and Ingrid Scheibler
Two artists who work with similar shapes and colors, one in fabric and one in paint, with very different sensibilities. Jodi Colella's wall of fabric poppies, last seen at the Fuller Museum, is a hand-stitched memorial to the many recent opioid deaths. Philosophy PhD Ingrid Scheibler expresses joy with abstract flower imagery in paint on canvas, reminiscent of mid-century modern. Their styles and messages are completely different but their palette and shapes are kin.
PAST EVENT: In the Biosphere, January, February and March 2022
In the Biosphere
The biosphere is the relatively thin life-supporting layer of the Earth’s surface, extending from a few kilometres of the atmosphere into the deep-sea vents of the ocean. The biosphere is a global ecosystem composed of living organisms (biota) and the abiotic (nonliving) factors from which they derive energy and nutrients.
Phyllis Ewen’s 3-dimensional reliefs invite us to imagine ourselves within the seascape above and below the surface of the water. In topographical waterscapes such as Northern Waters 8 and Drift , she scans charts and weather maps, alters them in Photoshop, and digitally prints them. These pigment prints are then cut and reassembled to form imagined waterscapes that highlight the changing nature of our seas; rising waters and melting glaciers – the effects of global warming and human intervention. She then adds paint, graphite and puzzle pieces. Although maps imply a viewer looking down at the landscape, Phyllis hopes “that the dimensional qualities of my images allow us imagine ourselves within it; to inhabit the seas as another way of understanding.”
Melting glaciers and warming seas have affected the sea floor itself. In The Deep, is drawn from maps of the ocean floor plotted in the 1950s and 1960s by geologist Marie Tharp. These pieces find us under the surface of the sea where we wander among the mountains, valleys, and canyons of the ocean floor. The depth and texture in these works are both illusion and actual. Layers are attached with magnets, reflecting the magnetic energy of the earth’s tectonic plates. Her palette has darkened as has the mood reflecting the ecological dangers we face.
Phyllis’s three-dimensional collages have shown recently at the Kingston Gallery in Boston, AMP Gallery in Provincetown, and the Rekjanes Museum in Iceland among others. Her work is in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, the DeCordova Museum, the Boston Public Library, Harvard, and MIT as well as many other public and private collections. Her studio is at Brickbottom in Somerville where she is a founding member.
Michelle Lougee’s sea creatures and plankton are made from single use plastic. She starts by making long strands of what she calls “plarn,” which is yarn made from carefully cut plastic bags, then she crochets component pieces of the work. Finally the forms are assembled using a framework of chicken wire for structural backing. Michelle cannily combines macro and micro, science and art, in her awareness of what we are doing to the oceans. Her magnified sea creatures are created from the very material that is causing them harm. Michelle is a professor at Lesley University and a member of Boston Sculptors Gallery. In 2019 she was artist-in-residence at the Society for Arts and Crafts. She has recently shown at the Kimpton Nine Zero Hotel in Boston, The Southern VT Arts Center, the Cape Cod Museum of Art, and the Manship Artists Residency. She is a 2021 winner of a grant from The Artists Resource Trust. Her studio is at Vernon St. in Somerville.
Phyllis’s pieces are an artful and graphic use of science. Michelle’s pieces are an artistic and playful use of labor-intensive craft. Together they make the same point: human behavior is impacting our oceans, air, rivers and streams.
PAST EVENT: Nature | Real and Imagined. The paintings of Jennifer Day and the photographs of Vaughn Sills. On exhibit October 7 through December 31, 2021
JENNIFER DAY paints the sea and the sky with a monochromatic palette, brushing on and wiping off to dramatic effect. Her ocean and clouds are painterly details of reality, often life-sized. Her "grayscale palette gives a monumental quality,” says the catalog for the 33rd Chelsea International Fine Art Competition at Agora Gallery in New York. Jennifer shows at Bromfield Gallery in Boston and she has exhibited her award-winning work at Atelier Gallery in Newport, RI, The Drawing Room, Cos Cob, CT, The Cotuit Center for the Arts, the Danforth Museum and many other galleries and museums throughout the Northeast. VAUGHN SILLS shows at Kingston Gallery in Boston. She is a Visiting Scholar at Brandeis University's Women's Studies Research Center and Associate Professor Emerita of Photography at Simmons University. In this series called Inside Outside, Vaughn poses arrangements of flowers and twigs in front of her own large scale landscape photographs. We look twice at a shadow cast by an arrangement in a vase in front of a backdrop of a misty dawn landscape from Prince Edward Island. She photographs the beauty of nature and the effects of time. She says her work “ is about how we are influenced by the land and how we influence it.” Thirty-four photographs from her series of African American Gardens were recently acquired by the Smithsonian American Art Museum.
The Rhythm of Chinese Art
The Rhythm of Chinese Art, Painting and Calligraphy by Mike Mei
PAST EVENT: The Rhythm of Chinese Art, Painting and Calligraphy by Mike Mei
During this time of heightened anti-Asian violence and hate, The Art Gallery at North Hill is proud to showcase the richness and tradition of Chinese art with the work of acclaimed Chinese Artist and Calligraphy master, Mike Mei. Mei grew up in a small Toishan village in Southern China. He learned to appreciate and develop his talent while young. He graduated from Guangzhou Normal University and he emigrated in 1985. He now teaches Chinese Art at Brandeis University and has given calligraphy demonstrations and lessons there and at Harvard University, the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Worcester Art Museum among many other locations. Mike speaks 3 different Chinese dialects: Mandarin, Cantonese, and Toishanese. His calligraphy demonstrates the wonder and beauty of communicating across multiple dialects using the same written characters. Each character or word is pronounced in a variety of ways, but has the same meaning across dialects and ethnicities within China and internationally. Chinese Art has the rich tradition of an ancient culture and living history. Mei, a master calligrapher and poet follows the evolution of Chinese calligraphy from ancient to traditional to simplified. Mike combines his mastery of the ancient calligraphic arts and brushwork with contemporary realist and abstract painting techniques. He renders landscape, still life and abstraction in varying traditional and contemporary styles and overlays poetry in graphic strokes. Mike is President of the Chinese American Fine Arts Society, and he was commissioned to create a tablet at the Gateway to Chinatown in Boston. He wrote the character for "longevity" 2000 times in different styles (a world record) that was carved in marble for a public park in China. He was the only living Chinese artist included in the 100th celebration of the Peabody Essex Museum (now PEM) in 2003 and the only Chinese artist in over a century to appear at Harvard and the Boston Museum of Fine arts. His works are in the collections of the former President of Taiwan, Ma Yin Ju, and PEM, In a statement for his current show at Sun Stone Gallery in West Concord MA, Mike Mei says he paints "the beauty of the seashore, oceans, lakes - it is the place of our spirit."
PAST EVENT Continuing Conversations
PAST EVENT Double Exposure
Double Exposure, a show of work by Ann and Alan Strassman is at the Art Gallery at North Hill until the end of March.
Both Strassmans focus on regular folks in gritty surroundings. In this group are denizens of NYC and Boston.
There’s an immediate impact from Ann’s life-size skillfully rendered acrylic portraits on cardboard and you will recognize some of these characters.
Alan’s large scale photographs are elegant, often serene and filled with detail. Both bodies of work are narrative commentary on city life now.
The painted and photographed crowd of unmasked and unselfconscious figures in the Art Gallery at North Hill remind us of our recent ignorant and blissful past. While live and masked people can only gather in the gallery by twos for the foreseeable future.
Ann Strassman writes, “Painting is a visual art. Regardless of the motivation, emotion or trauma depicted by the artist, in the end the viewer must want to look at it. The marks on the surface must stand on their own. I believe it is necessary for the paint to be compelling . . . without explanation. There are no metaphors just the magic of paint.”
But there is also the magic of Ann’s talent and skilled observation. The decisions and choices she makes regarding composition, detail and materials all comprise a narrative. She says, “I am a contemporary representational painter. My work concentrates on figurative subjects and, in recent years, has focused on urban street life. I work in the portrait and genre tradition but as part of the current art scene, pushing this traditional discipline into the new century and endowing it with contemporary relevance.”
Ann completed the studio art diploma program in 1995 at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. City streets of the Northeast provide the inspiration for work in her Boston studio. Ann’s paintings have been widely exhibited in New England and she has been represented by art galleries from coast to coast and her work is in many private and corporate collections. Her most recent solo exhibition (2018) was at Gallery Kayafas in Boston. In 2016 she was awarded a Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship and in 2017 she received Best of Show in the Cambridge Art Association National Prize Show. Since 2018 she has been represented by George Berges Gallery in New York where she looks forward to a solo show in 2021.
Alan Strassman writes, “Classic 20th century street photography in the 21st century: street photography is a timeless genre, but times change and people on the street evolve. Work of early 20th century pioneers, Eugène Atget and Henri Cartier-Bresson continue to inspire photographers to this day. Shooting the streets, I take my lead from Atget’s urban documentary photography and I pursue Cartier-Bresson’s “decisive moment” but today’s compelling image needs to say “today” not yesterday. Cars have replaced horses and nothing else has changed the “look” of the street more than the cell phone. Street photography tradition lives on in unmanipulated, unromanticized images of real people in their everyday lives, but isolation, self-absorption and abandonment of privacy that are hallmarks of today’s hyper-connected world are expressed in the posture and concentration of people indifferent to the street life around them.”
A serious amateur for many years, photography became Alan Strassman’s second career in 2008. His work has been widely exhibited and is owned in private, corporate and museum collections. Recent exhibitions include group shows at the Attleboro Museum, Griffin Museum, Cambridge Art Association, Southeast Center for Photography and Connecticut Academy of Fine Art and solo exhibitions at The Harvard Graduate School of Education, The Newton (MA) Free Library and Galatea Fine Art (Boston). His publications include Signs of Life, an illustrated history of photography and New England Mill Towns, contemporary images from the birthplace of the industrial revolution in America.
Alan has studied photography at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and the Maine Media Workshops. Also, a graduate of Princeton and the Harvard Business School, he is President Emeritus of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston and Chairman Emeritus of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.