Beacon Gallery Opens along Harrison Ave Creating a Warm Little Oasis Filled with Art

By Beth Treffeisen

In what used to be a run-down office space tucked away in an underground location along Harrison Avenue, in the South End, a warm oasis filled with art has taken its place, transforming the barren corner into a welcoming art gallery.

The newly opened Beacon Gallery at 524B Harrison Ave. is the newest addition to the ever-growing art scene in the SoWa Art and Design District. The gallery opened with a bang with a packed opening reception on Nov. 2 showcasing work from their current exhibition, “First Look” featuring contemporary painting and mixed-media pieces.

“There’s a good amount of foot traffic in the area and to just get that organically is great,” said Christine O’Donnell, owner and gallery director. “Now that it is cold out the gallery is a nice warm little oasis. All we need is a fire place that people can cozy up to.”

Beacon Gallery offers original art from both local and international artists. The gallery represents artists from the Boston area as well as Europe and Asia. Beacon Gallery aims to connect emerging and mid-career artists with new and established collectors and institutions from around the world.

Along with the brick-and-mortar, the gallery features all of their works online.

O’Donnell opened Beacon Gallery after over a decade spent living and working in Paris, Hong Kong, and Singapore. While living abroad, O’Donnell continued her art education while visiting art museums and galleries, befriending a lot of local artists.

After recently moving back to Newton with her family, O’Donnell decided to take her inner-dream of working with art and make it a reality.

“This has been a dream of mine for the last 20 years that has been held up inside of me,” said O’Donnell. “I love art, and I always wanted to work with art and open my own business, but as you know, life gets in the way.”

O’Donnell is part of a three-women team including Rachel Legault as marketing director and Jennifer Condensa-Barcia, who leads the finance and administration for the gallery.

One of the biggest challenges so far O’Donnell said has been finding local artists who have exciting, beautiful and inspiring pieces to showcase in the gallery. Her current exhibition happens to feature six women, with five coming from the Boston area. The exhibition has a range of figurative and abstract artwork.

In January, the gallery will be hosting a fundraiser for the plight of Syrian refugees. The show will feature photographs from Newtown resident Leslie Meral Schick who travels to the Greek Island of Chios every two to three months to help refugees arriving in Greece. Her photographs will be paired with other works from artists that follow in the same theme.

In addition, the gallery hopes to continue to feature individual and group shows. Some ideas include a ‘Call for New Artists’ or a jury show that will call for submissions.

“We have a lot of plans!” said O’Donnell.  In terms of the space, O’Donnell said her team was very lucky to have been shown this location that required some vision to see its potential. When they first viewed the space it was a barren office that did not have the lighting or wing walls that have since been installed. They also had to overlook the floors that were peeling and a wall that had major gash exposing electrical wires.

“It was a pretty big fit out before the it could all happen,” said O’Donnell. “The location is great and the space itself has a lot of potential. It took a good amount of work to make the space feel comfortable and welcoming.”

For both O’Donnell and Legault, who live in Newton, the gallery gives them a chance to be back in an urban environment that is filled with art galleries and is steps away from the SoWa open market.

“I’m delighted to be in this neighborhood,” said O’Donnell. “I’m excited to be competing with all the high quality galleries that around.”

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