Part of the aim of the “Got Art” column is to highlight the work of artists in South Boston’s two zip codes.
For this monthly April column, I am highlighting activities in Fort Port and an artist from 02210.
Artists have had studios in the Fort Point area of South Boston since the 1970’s It is one of New England’s largest art communities. I encourage everyone to check out both the FPAC Gallery (http://www.fortpointarts.org/cgi-bin/FPAC?s=gallery) and the FPAC Store (http://www.fortpointarts.org/cgi-bin/FPAC?s=shop)
Mark your calendars now! Twice each year Fort Point’s artists open their studios to the public (once in the fall and once in the spring). This spring’s open studios, which is called ArtWalk, is Friday May 6: 4:00-7:00pm, Saturday and Sunday May 7 and 8: noon-5:00pm. It is free and open to the public. For more information on ArtWalk: http://www.fortpointarts.org/cgi-bin/FPAC?s=open_studios
On March 23rd I interviewed artist Bebe Beard* at her Fort Point studio. I was able to see the work she was creating for her spring solo exhibition at the HallSpace gallery located in nearby Dorchester. Her solo show is entitled, “Love You ‘Till the End of Time”. The show dates are April 23 to May 28, 2011. The reception is April 23rd from 3 to 6pm. Both the gallery and reception are free and open to the public. For more info and directions see: http://www.hallspace.org/
Bebe has an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art’s Studio for Interrelated Media. She has received grants from the St. Botolph Club Art Foundation and the Massachusetts Cultural Council, our state arts agency. She has also had residencies at the MacDowell Colony, the Djerassi Resident Artists Program, and at the Experimental Television Center in Owego, NY. She is currently a senior lecturer at New England School of Art and Design at Suffolk University and at Wentworth Institute of Technology.
Q & A Bitetti/Beard
Kathleen Bitetti: How long have you been based in South Boston/Fort Point?
Bebe Beard: I moved to Fort Point November 1997.
KB: How would you best describe the kind of art you make? Multimedia installation? Interactive sculpture? Media art? Cyber art? Site specific art? All of the above?
BB: To a degree all of the above is true. Where I start seems to be drawing and from there an idea or a material or a process pulls in the genres. Most frequently the work involves drawing, sculpture and video.
KB: Your object making has a connection with the dancing world correct? Movement seems to often be a component of your work.
BB: Yes, movement is a strong principal featured frequently in my work. It comes from using video as a medium. Video engages best when there is compelling movement, even small movement as long as in total the video is compelling. I have never been a dancer but did work with dance choreographers in Boston and New Haven, producing props and costumes for their pieces.
KB: Tell us about your collaborator Lou Cohen- how you met- who is he, and how does the collaboration work?
BB: Lou Cohen and I met when we were on vacation in Maine with our spouses. We were staying at a small boarding house on Monhegan Island where for several days I overheard this guy talking to his friends about his electronic music and how he felt it needed something to look at while the audience listened. We spoke, decided to meet back in Boston and the rest is history. That was back in 2004.
Lou studied with John Cage when he was an undergrad at MIT in the 50’s and Cage was at Harvard but majored in computer science. After retiring from an illustrious consulting career Lou returned to composing and focused on the computer as an instrument and tool.
Our collaboration is organic. It grew slowly as we learned each other’s language. We trade files back and forth, doing a lot or a little to shape the result depending on the project. What comes first, the video or the audio can change, depending on who is inspired by what. Our most recent collaboration is on “Love You ‘Till The End Of Time” a solo show of my sculpture, drawing and video opening April 23rd in Dorchester at HallSpace. (www.hallspace.org). For this work we started with my video, added Lou’s audio then added more of my video and some animation of images of my drawing and sculpture created by Lou. Organic.
KB: Also can you recap the hilarious story you told me about how in your younger years you didn’t “connect” with his kind of music making?
BB: The older brother of one of my gang went to Berkley California to study music at the University. He left a folk singer/songwriter and came back a ‘new music’ composer. His music was inspired most by Alan Lucier and to us it sounded like one long long minor key note that morphed into a wail. Word quickly spread not to let Charley play you any of his music because it was awful and if he tried anyway you should run. That was my attitude then but now it is what I want to hear most when I look at my work. The underlying structure of images and music, the abstract, non-narrative quality of the each media amplify one another.
KB: How do you come up with the ideas/conceptual frameworks for your art making and by extension for a solo show? What are some the frameworks/themes that reoccur in your art?
BB: This is a funny question because the answer is a deeply internal one, not personal but internal. Its seems that a type of play interacts with a range of materials and a thought or feeling and like a handful of snow turns into a larger than life snowman. The elements roll around attracting a variety of processes and objects and materials and media until distilled and refined into artwork. Each framework is slightly different but the rolling around is the same.
KB: And finally, tell us about your show at HallSpace?
BB: For my second solo show at HallSpace, I am presenting new work from 2010-2011 called Love You ‘Till the End of Time. The drawings, sculpture and video in the series were generated from an extended stay on Maine’s Monhegan Island (again) in the winter of 2009-2010. Traditional artist’s materials are combined with white feathers, EPS white Styrofoam and video.
EPS white packaging ranging from squid coolers, to fruit packing boxes, shipping boxes for glassware, television and computer packing are arranged into seven free-standing sculptures titled individually Totems I through VII. Graced with large and small feathers – giving an impression of angelic purity and flight – they have an intuitive and dynamic balance of geometric forms and whiteness. Video is projected into, on and over the Totems making a beautiful yet elegiac environment. Love You ‘Till the End of Time is complemented and completed by animation and music composition by Lou Cohen. Lou handled the movement of the animation, I directed which objects were to move and he had the last word.
For more information on Bebe Beard – see her website: www.bebebeard.com
* For the record, I have been following Bebe Beard’s work for over fifteen years. I have shown her work twice at the now defunct Artists Foundation’s galleries that were located at the Distillery Building (516 East Second St. 02127). The first was a solo video installation in the AF’s Main gallery in July of 2000 and the second was in January 2006 in the AF’s video room. That was her first collaborative work with Lou Cohen.