Hidden in Plain View- The Mills Gallery

I was walking around the South End the other evening and  noticed an illuminated storefront I had not seen before, The Mills Gallery.  Are you kidding me?

It only took me five years to stumble upon the gallery. space cadet.

And it’s not even “tricky” to find like some other Boston venues.

For example, have you passed the Barbara Krakow Gallery on Newbury Street?

Yes, and no.

This prestigious contemporary art gallery resides at 10 Newbury Street..5 floors up.

Barbara currently has the drawings of Kiki Smith on view until March 12th.

It makes me wonder how many other galleries have I unknowingly traipsed past?

(Here, Kiki Smith)

I digress, The Mills Gallery is affiliated with the Boston Center for the Arts and is a part of the Cyclorama/Beehive complex on Tremont Street.

This 2,000 sq ft space boasts a wide array of contemporary works in the front(current exhibition: This Must Be The Place)as well as a small and intimate gallery tucked away on the side.

But what I found most interesting was the exhibit on view in the back room.

(Untitled, Sam McKinniss)

“A selected group of artists and others were invited to participate in a month long art swap. Each artist is invited to participate by installing an original piece in the exit room of the Mills Gallery in the hopes to exchange for another work they feel is equal in value. Each artist will help define a new infrastructure of commerce and worth that will be documented through a growing list of names, documentation and descriptions.

Defining the value or importance of a work is an abstract concept, by simplifying an art work’s value based on participation it becomes a means to foster relationships and build community.”

The work is showcased along the surfaces of the exit gallery with one wall dedicated to a “mind map” of the artists’ names. A red line connects participants and indicates who wants to trade with whom.

Artists fill out slips formally declaring which pieces they would like in hopes of a trade.

And then the trade is accepted or DENIED.

Very interesting concept.  As an artist, I might feel insecure that my name would be all alone on the MindMap, -pushes around toe in dirt- but it seemed like there was a nice flow between participants and I enjoyed learning who wanted what.

(the work of Heather Cleary)

This format is also an innovative and refreshing way of bringing the art community together, communicating with members you might not have normally had a chance to, and possibly opening the door to future collaborations, etc.

Barter system at its best.

(Roadkill’s Last Request, KDonz)

The Mills Gallery at 539 Tremont Street is open Wednesdays and Sundays 12:00-5:00PM, and Thursdays/Fridays/Saturdays 12:00-9:00PM conducive to late night viewing.

I thought I was fairly observant/plugged-in, but now I am going to be checking every dark alley and beneath every manhole in case I am missing out on some special venue.

Or, I will just get acquainted with Google Maps. That works too. ♥

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