By Beth Treffeisen
Tucked into a little nook down the mostly residential Shawmut Ave. in the South End, a tiny 200 square foot space entices passerby’s with unique and quirky pieces from Picasso, Matisse, Duchamp and more in a tiny brightly lit gallery that stands out on an otherwise quiet street.
KABINETT gallery opened on April 1, and will be showcasing “small modernisms” through May 3.
During this show, KABINETT is presenting some of the giants of the modernist tradition as they worked at their most intimidate scale – keeping with the small scale of the gallery.
Matisse is represented by a colorful and fanciful small maquette for a baptismal certificate, as well as a humorous pen and ink design for a chastity belt. An original ceramic by Picasso is juxtaposed with a colorful series of designs penned on the title page of a NY exhibition catalogue.
Elsewhere on the bright white walls, the pioneering Soviet Russian film director and film theorist, Sergei Eisenstein is represented by one of his humorous erotic drawings, while poet and artist E.E. Cummings is represented by a playful drawing of an imposing opera diva.
“Everything here is a little weird or quirky and might not be seen on a larger stage or scale,” said Gabriel Boyers the owner of the gallery.
The name of the gallery comes from the Renaissance Cabinets of Curiosities (“Kunstkabinett”), the term Kabinett also originally referred to a wine of superior quality, set aside for a later sale.
From these references, this gallery will deal in both the primary and secondary art markets, selling works by the masters of the past as well as contemporary works by mature contemporary artists.
“This show is all older material that has changed hand many times,” said Boyers. But, he said, the three future shows are all contemporary artists.
The next show that will run from May 6, through June 14, will feature the “Secret Life of Porcupines” by Jeannie Weissglass. It will showcase two large drawings of porcupines – one supporting a horse a horse and armor-clad rider, the other with a black-booted woman riding amidst the quills.
The mostly smaller-format paintings and works on paper that will be exhibited present Weissglass’s revisionist take on American colonial sin, exploring the turbulent waters of that period and its resonances in the current political climate.
About ten years ago, Boyers founded Schubertiade Music & Arts that has grown to be one of the country’s most widely recognized and respected dealers of rare books and manuscripts, specializing in all fields of the performing and visual arts.
Boyers said opening a gallery just felt like the natural next step to take.
“I wanted to start with something small,” said Boyers. “I saw this for sale and thought it would be great.”
Boyers said that he gravitated towards this spot because he has some great friends in the neighborhood already and it’s conveniently located two doors down from Orinoco, a Latin restaurant that he loves.
“I thought we could just wrap up here for the day and head over for some arepas,” joked Boyers. “It might have played a little bit more influence than I would have liked.”
With the gallery in full swing, Boyers said that he wanted to open a place that he would be able to, “say something with.”
He continued by saying that there are a lot of great institutions in Boston that have exhibitions that showcase the well-known artists but he wanted this place to highlight some of the smaller or lesser known pieces.
So far, Boyers said, he has had a lot of people from the neighborhood visit such as younger and older couples and even has had some people travel into the city to view the collection.
He hopes to capture even more people with First Friday’s from the nearby open market SoWa where local artists open their doors to their studios for viewing.
“Boston is not known for a gallery scene generally but it has a vibrant scene, especially in the South End with SoWa,” said Boyers. “It is certainly possible that we might end up there in the future.”
KABINETT is located at 467 Shawmut Ave., Boston. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday from 10 am – 5 pm, evenings and weekends by appointment.