818 Studios Celebrates Second Year With '2020 Vision' Exhibition Featuring 20 Artists

click to enlarge 818 Studios Celebrates Second Year With '2020 Vision' Exhibition Featuring 20 Artists
'Sun and Water,' Mary Cregan

To celebrate its second year in operation, 818 Studios gathered two pieces each from 20 different artists made during this year for '2020 Vision.'

The gallery, run by owner/curator Barbara Merritt and discretely located above Fahrenheit in Tremont, came to life two years ago after a two-bedroom apartment was converted to a studio space.

Merritt is pleased with the opportunity to take charge of the 818 space, which doubles as her photography studio and a retail space.

For this exhibition, Merritt felt with so many artists cooped up in their homes and studios this year toiling away as the pandemic leaves the sequestered disconnected from their would-be audience, it made sense to reach out to her network of artists to collaborate.

“'2020 Vision' came about because during the lockdown I found myself making more art than I had in a while,” explains Merritt. “I was exploring new mediums and free to create without the constraints of busy schedule. I eventually thought that all the other artists I know must be doing the same thing! So, for the 2nd anniversary group show I wanted to see what people have been creating since 2020 began. In a year that has been full of sharp turns, I knew that this show would help to cement a sense of community and positive action. Although it almost didn’t happen, the urge to come together in some way won out. '2020 Vision' was my only route to togetherness that I could see, and I took it.”

The show includes work by heavy hitters such at Douglass Max Utter and David Louis Cintron alongside younger talent such as Mary Cregan, whose striking piece “Sun and Water” features a faceless male figure, wearing only swimming trunks and sandals at what looks like some sort of campground.

The color scheme is muted and the work is impressionistic with its broad strokes full with skill and intent. For all I know this painting could be from a Polaroid she found in an old chest in her grandpa’s basement, but the feeling I get from it expresses something about the human connection with the artist and how she sees the world, a transference of emotion.

Douglas Max Utter, who has never ceased to impress, has a work in this exhibition called “House Call in the Plague Year,” which is an image of a centaur but with a beaked doctor mask, the figure’s hand raised as if to call attention to its arrival. The painting exemplifies Utter’s signature and always synergetic use of color applied with a dynamism consistent with mastery. The painting says something with pigment about 2020 which I’m not sure could be encapsulated with words.

Needless to say 2020 has been hard and displacing for so many and from so many angles and the arts and cultural sector have particularly taken a hard hit.

“With the two shows I’ve had since March, I’ve felt the sharp pain of losing the exhilaration of a big opening night,” explains Meritt. “I’ve come to find that building a show is equally exhilarating and exponentially beneficial to both artist and curator. It’s still a challenge and I still have doubts sometimes but ultimately I know now that keeping art alive, especially now, is really the most important thing. This keeps me going.”

The exhibition will be on display until the end of December.
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