Today is the last day the Stebbins Gallery, where I have shown my work with other local artists. The Gallery is closing down.
This is not by our choice. The gallery is a dedicated space in the basement of the First Parish Unitarian Church at Zero Church Street in Harvard Square. In the 50’s, it was given to the church to be used as a gallery. For the past year, it has functioned as a gallery and shop for those of us who have work there.
It has been a terrific experience for me, as a crafter turning some work into useable art….blank cards, cards for holidays, all one-of-a kind. I met terrific people, people all exploring and expanding their versions of ‘art’, in painting, ceramics, photography, fabric, collage, crotchet, and jewelry. One of my faves and a most clever type of art is hand-made lampshades, which are perfectly beautiful and unique.
But the Standing Committee of the church, the committee responsible for the ‘administrivia’ of the church, has decreed that we have to stop selling as of today and take down our work by the end of August. It is unclear what will happen to the gallery. Anyone in the congregation can submit a proposal for the use of this space, but current members of the Arts committee are not interested. The Standing Committee said they want to gallery to represent the social justice aspect of the church, that they want non-profits to use the space for shows involving social justice, but there are no plans yet that address how this will occur.
The members of the church who have been volunteering to put up shows and coordinate all events believe that there was no discussion about the closing and that it was just a decision made my the Standing Committee, with no discussion with the Gallery members or the church congregation, a process which appears to be antithetical to the mission of the Unitarian Church. At any rate, the decision is made, and the gallery held its last sales today.
Here are a couple of other items for sale at the gallery.
So today I went to gallery-sit for the last time, and there were about seven of us there. People came in off the street, talked to us, indicated surprise that we were closing down, and then I bagged up my stuff and took it home.
What did my participation in this gallery for the last year mean to me? It meant a lot. For the first time in my life, my creations were supported as ‘art’. I was taken seriously and in turn, that made me feel able to explore new ideas and options (painting and printing on fabric, painting on paper), and take some risks. I grew as a person, looking at and appreciating other people’s art and being empowered to think of myself as an artist. I have no community such as this community of artists in which to immerse myself and my attempts at art. The loss of this community leaves a hole in my life…I wonder if I will be able to continue exploring artistic ideas with fabric without them? Being in this community really contributed to my ability to ‘sew my life together’….to put together small pieces of things I love with people I respect, admire and enjoy. Over the next few days I will begin to feel the effects of the lost of this small and evolving community, which is now not a community anymore. It’s sad.