The Dorchester Art Project store is officially open at 1490 Dorchester Ave. in Fields Corner, meaning residents now have a new place to shop for artwork, music, clothes, and other products created by Dorchester artists.
The two-level storefront space, which adjoins DAP’s upstairs gallery and music venue, gives the organization added visibility and a larger, handicap-accessible, street-level footprint in the neighborhood. It also figures to play a key role in developing DAP’s sustainability by supplementing artist income and organizational overhead costs.
Store/gallery manager Emma Leavitt explained that the shop’s base revenue model, a 30-70 split to the artists, aims to give tenants and community artists a brick and mortar platform to sell their wares.
“We want to create revenue streams that put money back in the pockets of Dorchester artists,” said Leavitt, who added that an online store is in the works and should be up and running soon.
After being acquired in early September, the more than 6,000 square-foot space was transformed in a matter of weeks, thanks to an army of DAP volunteers, who cleaned the former market space and made it new with some decorations and a fresh coat of paint. Another week was spent acquiring store furnishings and moving inventory into the shop, said Leavitt.
The local flavor of the shop is noticeable upon entry: music by Dorchester artists like Brandie Blaze and Cliff Notez bleeds from the speakers and adorns shelves in both CD and cassette forms, while a quick spin of the clothing racks reveals pieces from local brands like Our 20s.
Large canvas paintings hang for sale in the window, while smaller prints, posters, stickers, and other memorabilia are stocked in a check-out display case. In addition to apparel — both thrifted and locally consigned— the shop offers an assortment of accessories, health products, art supplies, media, and even refurbished musical instruments. Through it all, the guiding tenet of Dorchester Art Project to “support local artists” remains front and center, or, in the case of DAP’s branded hoodies and t-shirts, hand-screen-printed in white lettering on the back.
The shop is only one feature of the versatile Dorchester Ave. space, which will eventually be home to a dancefloor/stage area and additional art and music studios in the basement. For now, a workshop space on the ground floor is open to anyone in the neighborhood who wants to stop by and create some art.
Leavitt explained that a drop-in day rate for the workshop will operate on a sliding scale: $5 for kids, $10 for teens, and $20 for adults to use the creative space for the day. Additional art classes and programming will likely be added in the coming months.
Dorchester Art Project will continue accepting donations of art supplies as well as consigned items. Any neighborhood vendors interested in selling their products at the store are encouraged to reach out to DAP.
In a neighborhood as multicultural as Dorchester, even a locally sourced store is bound to feature some far-flung goods. One such featured product? St. Lucian sea moss, a form of natural aquatic plant growth with a wide range of touted health benefits that made its way to DAP store shelves, thanks to an assist from an artist-tenant at the organization.
Said Leavitt: “We’re trying to become Dorchester’s source for sea moss.”