Depot Square Artists take over Gleason Public Library

by Anne Marie Brako

Having left its gallery space in Lexington after 25 years, the Depot Square Artists group has taken to moving shows to various venues. Just coming from a show at the Boston State House, the 17-member Depot Square Artists group offers works in a variety of media that will appear at the Gleason Library through July 30.

“I am one of the ten members who founded Depot Square artists in 1981,” says Gracia Dayton. Natalie Warshawer represents the only other original member who remains part of the group today. Dayton describes the group turnover as slow over the years and places the largest size at 25 members while in Lexington.

“We have had a very good time,” recalls Dayton. “We had lots of sales. We learned how to run a business. We took turns manning the gallery.” She describes running profitable “one-man shows” at the gallery and learning about publicity and hospitality. The group had to give up renting the space in February 2009 as the slowing economy had negatively affected sales while rental expenses kept increasing.

Today the group meets monthly. There’s only a nominal mailing fee to cover promotion of group shows, but that fee must be paid to show work at various venues which are plotted out sometimes a year in advance. The collaborative does not recruit new members actively, but it does consider applicants on an individual basis in a juried show against some very “high standards,” according to Dayton. Although many members come from Lexington, some do come from area towns such as Bedford, Concord, Lincoln and Arlington.

Something for everyone

The front entrance wall of the Gleason Library shows the works of six artists.  These include a fiber piece from Dora Hsiung, monotype prints from Jan Cadman Powell, Elizabeth Carter and Warshawer, a mixed media work from Rani Sarin and a collage on canvas from Gillian Ross.  Complementary colors and abstract styling unify the pieces, but each  represents unique style and perspective. You can find more pieces from all these artists scattered throughout the library and try to guess the 17 creators of the over 80 pieces on display. And if you find the work from Ross very familiar, you may have viewed her work on display in a smaller three-person group show at the Gleason last year. She’s a newer member, having joined the collective only three years ago.

“I met one of the members at the DeCordova Museum,” says Ross. She enjoys sharing work and discussions with others in the collaborative and finds displaying work advantageous. In her last show at the Gleason, she sold several works.

While it’s difficult to call out the value of every work of art in the limited space of a single article, there are some unique pieces on the second floor worth the trip upstairs, including:

• Painted pots with Southwest “rock art” designs  by Joan Garcia

• “Monopoly” mixed-media collages by Dayton

• Fabric designs by Dilla Gooch Tingley

• “Harbor” sunrise and sunset oil paintings by Allan Dushman

If you don’t make it upstairs, be sure at least to head over to the wall facing the parking lot behind the research librarian’s desk. You’ll see notable pieces including the haunting works by Vivian Berman with her use of glacial blues and dark skies, and a fascinating, multi-dimensional 20-inches by 20-inches piece in fiber with mathematical overtones  called “Four Corners” that hangs diagonally.

Everyone’s approach and appreciation for art differs. Many of the artists have received awards and enter regional and national shows. You may find it unbelievable that this article doesn’t mention your favorite piece. So, be sure and let that artist know of your appreciation at the group art show reception where light refreshments will be served on Saturday, May 14, from 1 to 2:30 p.m.  ∆