Through April 2, the art show “Without Issue” will continue at the Dorchester Art Project space at 1486 Dot Ave. in Fields Corner. Though this modest show is unlikely to attract many visitors other than the acquaintances of the six artists displaying work, “Without Issue” represents one of bright spots in Dorchester’s generally lackluster art scene.
Though this spunky exhibition is housed at the DAP space, former home of the Howard Art Project, it neither represents artists from the Dorchester Art Project community nor, for that matter, any artist with Dorchester connections. Then again, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum is not expected to show works by Fenway artists.
DAP is an incubator space much like its neighbor, the Fields Corner Business Lab, a co-working enterprise that allows start-ups, small businesses, and community development organizations to share facilities in an affordable. synergistic environment. Both organizations foster fledging innovators.
It was the openness of DAP to outside projects that prompted Caleb Smith, a second-year graduate student at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts (SMFA), to propose that he be allowed to curate a show featuring the work of five fellow young artists from the SMFA: Furen Dai, Caroline Dahlberg, Jeremy Endo, Max Kaplan, Caleb Smith, and Jonathan Weiskopf. However, this show has no official connection with the prestigious academy.
Smith was attracted by the DAP because it is a non-profit gallery that is “not trying to make money off the artists” and that allows much greater freedom regarding what can be displayed as compared with the rules governing the SMFA galleries.
In his curatorial statement, Smith writes, “ ‘Without Issue’ features six Boston-based artists resuscitating, regurgitating and reinterpreting forms derived from conceptual, minimal and post minimal art…In short, this eclecticism is more of a mannerist gesture than either post-modern appropriation or ahistorical exploring.”
If anything is clear from this Artspeak, it’s a sure bet that few of the general public will be enticed to venture up the dimly lit stairs to the second floor of the Howard Building. However, most of the galleries in Boston except those on Newbury Street and the SoWa district also get little traffic except from those invited by the artists.
In contrast to the somewhat forbidding press material, the show itself is accessible and lively. Smith’s own efforts include a rainbow spectrum arrangement of brightly colored Swiffer type disposable mops that he rescued from the trash on college move-in weekend. His other found-object sculpture is an enigmatic construction put together from a similarly salvaged Apple monitor, a little bungee chair, and a bed pan.
Pieces by other artists range from the blatant to the super subtle. Weiskopf’s joky wall signs really hit viewers right between the eyes, while Max Kaplan’s birch panels with an acrylic and poly nylon surface require close-up examination from just the right angle to reveal their noirish content.
Contemporary artists like those in the current DAP show are not necessarily hoping for gasps of awe as a reaction to their works. They might be just as happy with viewers who are baffled, dismissive, offended, or plain old bored by their pieces. Asked what response he would need to judge that “Without Issue” was a success, Smith replied, “I guess basically that the artists involved expressed happiness with the exhibition.”
Smith himself is proud of this his first solo curating effort, so thanks to the open arms of Sarah Pollman and the other DAP members, these SMFA affiliates have 2016 credits on their resumes and very practical experience about mounting a show with next to no money.
Gallery hours are Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays 4 p.m.– 8 p.m. For further details on this or DAP’s next show, “Interiors” (April 14-May 28), visit dorchesterartproject.org.