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Day-trip Worthy Exhibitions to See This Summer Around New England

The BAR Editors share the art destinations—from institutions to project spaces to special events—that take you off the beaten path.

Feature by BAR Editorial

Illustration of New England with a green background and small illustrations of art destinations.

Illustration by Michelle Stevens for Boston Art Review.

While the Boston Art Review staff is dedicated to our namesake city, like all good New Englanders, we can’t resist a good summer road trip to the mountains or the coast. But we’re still the art nerds you know and love, so along with lobster rolls and popovers, we’ll be taking in exhibitions of all kinds. Here, you’ll find nine excursions we’re particularly excited about. From institutions to project spaces to special events, our team has selected art destinations that will take you off the beaten path.


Currier Museum of Art (~55 miles from Boston)
150 Ash St, Manchester, New Hampshire
“Arghavan Khosravi,” April 14 – September 5, 2022

Installation view of “Arghavan Khosravi” at the Currier Museum of Art, Manchester, New Hampshire, April 14 through September 5, 2022. Photo by Julia Featheringill.

Perhaps best known for possessing the only Frank Lloyd Wright homes open to the public in New England, the Currier Museum of Art’s exhibitions and collections are not to be overlooked. This summer, the museum presents a solo exhibition by RISD grad Arghavan Khosravi, who fuses a spatially daring, Magritte-like surrealism with personal-political fervor. In her first solo museum presentation, Khosravi demands our presence as her paintings revel in material poetics and three-dimensional vitality—flat pixels on our screens couldn’t possibly capture such enlivened work.

Born in Shahr-e-kord, Iran, Khosravi features female protagonists bound to strange, intimate environments. She draws upon the aesthetics of Persian miniature painting, using compressed perspective to evoke a rich, multilayered narrative. Khosravi subverts and reinvigorates this ancient tradition, which typically featured women in subservient or secondary roles. The paintings reveal a semi-biographical yet universally feminine psychology; memories of Iran guide Khosravi’s hand.

An attention to material also guides these paintings. Khosravi asked her father to send traditional textiles from Iran which she uses as canvases. Other objects like books, glitter, thread, leather and elastic cords, handles and locks generate a depth of meaning. Some of Khosravi’s paintings enter the space on three-dimensional canvases, creating a sort of optical illusion-meets-immersive installation.

Khosravi melds the symbolic and the visceral, the internal mind with external matter. The works are emotionally complex—playful and achy—and feel true to processes of living.
— Maya Rubio

Museum of New Art (~60 miles from Boston)
135 Congress Street, Portsmouth, New Hampshire
“Broken Open,” April 19 – September 25
(Bonus Show: Able Baker Contemporary Farewell Show, Portland, ME)

Installation view of “Broken Open,” Museum of New Art, Portsmouth, NH, April 19 – September 25, 2022. From left to right: Joy Curtis, Atlas, 2019; Brie Ruais, Spreading Out from Center, Anchoring in Place, 2021; Joy Curtis, Wonder Valley Channel, 2020. Photo by Peter Morse.

This summer, I’m going to new places. Including New Hampshire! It’s the New England state I’ve spent the least amount of time in, but this summer, artists I admire are beckoning me to Portsmouth’s Museum of New Art. This new-to-me museum’s summer show, “Broken Open,” curated by Hilary Schaffner, is an opus of messy materialism and includes work by Bianca Beck, Joy Curtis, Jennie Jieun Lee, Brie Ruais, and Aparna Sarkar. Each artist uses the physical and psychic body as a catalyst for creation.

Ruais (whose recent retrospective at Houston’s Moody Arts Center was sadly not within driving distance for me) always starts her sculptural installations with 130 pounds of clay, a reference to her body weight. Beck’s seemingly abstract figural forms are references to the human body, her messy brushwork and sgraffito alluding to skin and veins. Curtis’s body-sized works seem all vein and bone with strips of cloth and stringy thread. Lee makes portraits incorporating several mark-making styles and materials, including ceramics, her process a sort of “catharsis.” And Sarkar, the most painterly in the bunch, paints so dynamically that the works seem to pulse from the wall.

Power over one’s body is no longer a given; these artists use a range of mark-making to explore making that eschews external forces. It’s worth many drives.

I would be extremely remiss not to mention Able Baker’s “Painting Nerds; ABC Farewell Show,” just a short jaunt from Portsmouth to Portland. Started by Hilary Irons and Stephen Benenson in 2015, the artist-run Able Baker consistently shows thought-provoking, genre-bending group and solo exhibitions. To me, Able Baker is at its best showing painters who clearly love to paint, something that they are doing with their final show, “Painting Nerds,” which includes Tessa O’Brien, Nick Benfey, Jesse Littlefield, Megan Brady, and Katherine Bradford. I’m so sad to see this space go, but at least it’s with a bang. (On view through July 16).
— Leah Triplett Harrington

Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute (DATMA) (~60 miles from Boston)
Various locations, New Bedford, Massachusetts
“SHELTER 2022-2023,” 2022 Season: June 16 through September 12, 2022

Rael San Fratello, Star Lounge, 2015. 3D-printed polylactic acid, 11’ x 11’ x 8.5’. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Since it launched in 2018, the Massachusetts Design Art & Technology Institute (DATMA) has worked to enliven the SouthCoast region through free and accessible contemporary art. This summer, it’s partnering across New Bedford to kick off “Shelter 2022-2023,” a two-year, city-wide initiative that investigates the sprawling concept of its title through disparate but equally ambitious lenses: a changing climate, America’s legacy of slavery, and our current housing crisis, to name a few.

With “SHELTER: Flexible Fibers + Sustainable Solutions,” DATMA invited artists who inject technological innovation into their aesthetic practices to interrogate our relationship to the structures that keep us safe. On view at UMass Dartmouth’s CVPA Swain Gallery, Do Ho Suh’s fabric architecture, Abeer Seikaly’s photographs of her Bedouin-inspired woven fabric system, and Rael San Fratello’s 3D-printed bio-plastic sculpture—the largest of its kind—all explore the spaces where possibility resides.

Of course, we can’t discover our future without first navigating our past. Two other exhibitions, “Safe Station: New Bedford’s Underground Railroad” and “Safe Harbor: Building the New Bedford Hurricane Protection Barrier,” do just that, resurfacing the figures that spearheaded the area’s Underground Railroad and abolitionist movements, and celebrating the construction of the city’s protective sea wall, a feat of engineering massive enough to be seen from space.

Taken together, these shows offer a glimpse into how an area still benefiting from its historic traditions (New Bedford is still the most lucrative fishing port in the United States) is working to adapt while keeping sustainability and beauty top of mind.
– Jessica Shearer

Winter Street Gallery (~90 miles from Boston)
22 Winter St #955, Edgartown, MA 02539
“Shifting Infinite,” June 24 – July 12, 2022; followed by group exhibition opening July 30, 2022

Installation view of “Secret Storm,” Winter Street Gallery, Edgartown, MA, August – September, 2020. From left to right: Philip Guston, Painter, 1980; Erin Jane Nelson, Moon Dial, 2020. Photo by Vicente Muñoz, courtesy of Winter Street Gallery.

Located in the heart of Martha Vineyard’s Edgartown, Winter Street Gallery is bringing work by internationally renowned artists to the island for the summer season. The space is a quintessential Vineyard storefront with bright windows and a white shingled exterior much like the neighboring shops that line the quaint streets at the town’s center, but inside, ambitious works await.

Co-founders George Newall and Ingrid Lundgren hail from New York, where they have both spent over a decade working in commercial galleries. When they found themselves spending more time on the island in the wake of the first COVID wave, they wanted to find a way to bring their corner of the art world to the island while also giving back to the communities Lundgren grew up in. Their debut exhibition opened in July 2020—the first of many group exhibitions featuring emerging to established artists by way of paintings, prints, and small sculptures.

This summer, Winter Street will mount two exhibitions. On June 24, the gallery will reopen with a solo exhibition of oil paintings by Quentin James McCaffrey. The pieces are miniature windows into stoic interiors that blur centuries and architectures, but somehow feel distinctly tied to New England. On July 30, a group exhibition of works by nearly thirty artists will look to the ocean for a fresh and unconventional spin on seascapes. After the ferry ride onto the island, you’ll have your own oceanic reflections to carry with you into the show.
– Jameson Johnson

lower_cavity (~90 miles from Boston)
416 Dwight Street, Holyoke, MA 01040
Artist-in-residence reception, June 18; otherwise open by appointment

Tania Colette B, “New Henge,” dual installation as part of residency at lower_cavity (2021). Brick, salvaged household and construction materials; dimensions variable. Image courtesy of lower_cavity.

Cavernous, rugged, and raw, the industrial history of downtown Holyoke has left a distinct patina on the walls of lower_cavity’s newly launched artist-in-residence and project space. When occupied by visiting artists, curators, and collectives, the 3,000-square-foot space is a site for exploration and creation with no strings attached. Though artist Anthony Discenza has been an owner of the old mill building since the mid 2000s, it wasn’t until the fall of 2020 after months of isolation from his community that he transformed the space to accommodate visitors. Since then, the residency program has hosted seven artists and a pop-up exhibition by the internet discourse group Do Not Research.

Though not every resident chooses to present an exhibition or event in the space, current residents Monia Ben Hamouda and Michele Gabriele will open the doors to their project for a reception on June 18. The Milan-based artists are the first international artists to present work in the space, and their exhibition will travel to Ashes/Ashes in New York City opening on July 1. Sneak peeks reveal fleshy creatures paired with well-worn steel and wood sculptures. I’m eager to see how this duo activates the depths of lower-cavity’s halls. 

Throughout the summer, the space is open to visitors by appointment. Yes, you can stop by on your way to Western Mass, but this space is definitely worth the trip on its own.
– Jameson Johnson

Provincetown’s Friday Art Stroll (~120 Miles from Boston)
Multiple venues, Summer 2022

Installation shot of “CROWN SHY” at Schoolhouse Gallery, 494 Commercial Street, Provincetown, MA, April 22 – May 22, 2022. Photo courtesy of Schoolhouse Gallery.

Hop on the ferry from Boston or take a drive through the otherworldly dunes of the Massachusetts coast to Provincetown. In this fishing village turned queer arts escape, you’ll find over forty-five art galleries, the Provincetown Art Association and Museum, and a whole lot of pride.

Each Friday evening throughout the summer, the Provincetown Art Gallery Association leads their Gallery Stroll, inviting all to adventure through new and notable exhibitions along the town’s main streets. A few highlights this season include Jane Paradise’s decade-long Ptown-based “Dune Shack Series” at Alden Gallery, a group show focused on women’s often-overlooked side of sex culture and history now at Art Market Provincetown (AMP), and a full season of shows at Schoolhouse Gallery that captures Ptown’s essence as a place of shared escape, including a selection of Boston-based artist Joel Janowitz’s restless paintings alongside toile embroidery by Richard Saja and tactile, sculptural oils by Tess Michalik.

While you’re there, don’t stay inside too long or you’ll miss the town’s abundance of natural beauty. I’ve heard a sunrise at Herring Cove is one for the bucket list, although, with my strict following of the Anthony Bourdain-inspired guidance to always wake up in Ptown with some kind of “burn” (“If something doesn’t hurt—a lobster-red arm, a thudding head, a twinging heart—you did it wrong,”) I’ve not yet managed to catch it. Someday.
– Presley Ackeret

The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum (~160 miles from Boston)
258 Main Street, Ridgefield, Connecticut
“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone, June 6, 2022 – January 8, 2023

Pamela Council, Ringholders, 2016-ongoing. Doll-face porcelain, dollmakers sculpey, jewelers ring displays, nail polish, rhinestones, crack pipes, glue, with artist-made painted wood shelves. Dimensions variable; 36″ x 13″ (shelves). Photo courtesy of the artist.

Critic and art historian Lucy R. Lippard wrote in ’75, “It is no longer true that the greatest compliment a woman artist can receive is the classic: You paint like a man.” It wasn’t then, and it certainly isn’t now. With ‘“52 Artists: A Feminist Milestone,” the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum has reconvened (nearly) all of the artists exhibited in Lippard’s ‘71 landmark exhibition “Twenty Six Contemporary Women Artists” alongside the same number of emerging female-identifying or nonbinary artists. While the historical context is significant, the real strength of this show is that, in seeing it, the socio-political premise fades away and you’re left with some of the most exciting work that has come out of the country’s art capital. Just like the original show, the “new” artists are all New York-based, and none of them have headlined a solo museum show.

Because in most cases the Aldrich was able to obtain the pieces originally on view, visitors can discover the work that greats like Howardena Pindell and Adrian Piper were creating half a century ago in conversation with what rising artists are working through now. The lobby alone offers the one-two punch of visceral, womb-ic meditations by Loie Hollowell and Cynthia Carlson, while outside, Alice Aycock’s astral Untitled Cyclone sculpture and Cecile Abish’s historic Earthwork 4 Into 3 provide a counterpoint to Catalina Ouyang’s devastating installation Recourse.

Though it’s frustrating that the show’s “milestone” isn’t marking the gender-parity sought in ‘71, by dedicating the entirety of the 8,000-square-foot space to one show for the first time, the Aldrich is staking its footprint on the bet that art produced by women and nonbinary artists will deliver—and it absolutely does.
– Jessica Shearer  

Southern Vermont Arts Center (~170 miles from Boston)
860 Southern Vermont Arts Center Drive, Manchester, Vermont
“RELATIONSHIPS: hot, cold, intricate,” June 18 – August 14, 2022

Lia Rothstein, Bloodlines, 2022. Silk and encaustic. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Outside the Southern Vermont Arts Center, the former private estate boasts over 120 acres of forest land and the title of largest sculpture park in Vermont. But this summer, I’m turning my attention to the museum’s interior to catch an exhibition featuring the work of regional artists who work with wax. New England Wax lauds the centuries-old medium of encaustic, meaning “to burn in” in Greek. The regional association consists of thirty-one wax-based artists from the six New England states. Opening June 18, “RELATIONSHIPS” will demonstrate the vast potentials of the wax medium, which lends itself to possibilities of translucency, layering, incising, incorporating found objects, transferring photocopied images, and other fascinating techniques. An exhibition that requires presence with the material, “RELATIONSHIPS” may, as well, offer different perspectives on visual substance, an opportunity to indulge our senses in new ways.
— Maya Rubio

Center for Maine Contemporary Art (~190 miles from Boston)
21 Winter Street, Rockland, ME
Multiple exhibitions, May 28 – September 11, 2022

Yashua Klos, Our Living, 2022. Woodblock and rice paper on muslin. Photo by David Clough.

In coastal Rockland, Maine, four exciting exhibitions have made their debut for the summer at the Center for Maine Contemporary Art. Running from May 28 through September 11, the Center will showcase work by Veronica Perez in a show titled, “Voice, Whispering” Reggie Burrows Hodges’s “Hawkeye,” and large-scale work by Yashua Klos, titled Our Living. A separate group exhibition called “The View from Here” celebrates CMCA’s 70th anniversary. While “The View from Here” offers a retrospective look at the artists who have made CMCA the success it is today—featuring work by twenty artists who have been involved with CMCA since its founding in 1952—the former three shows bring new work from some exciting voices in contemporary art.

I was excited to see Yashua Klos’s name on the exhibition roster since I wasn’t able to see his show “Our Labor” at the Wellin Museum at Hamilton College. Our Living grew out of the body of work Klos made for “Our Labor.” One of the themes Klos examined in “Our Labor” is the indelible yet overlooked contribution of Black workers in the American auto industry, particularly in Detroit. Klos began this recent work after reconnecting with his father’s extended family and learning about how his family’s history and heritage is inextricably linked—through labor—to the Ford Motor Company and the urban fabric of Detroit. While this is the artist’s first text-based work, Our Living draws on Klos’ penchant for woodblock and collage and builds upon larger themes in his practice like the construction of identity.
— Karolina Hać

Presley Ackeret is community relations & digital editor at Boston Art Review and gallery associate at Beacon Gallery.

Karolina Hać is an editor at Boston Art Review and head of marketing at Höweler+Yoon Architecture, LLP.

Leah Triplett Harrington is editor-at-large for Boston Art Review and curator at Now + There.

Jameson Johnson is editor-in-chief at Boston Art Review and marketing and development manager at MIT List Visual Arts Center.

Maya Rubio is an editorial assistant at Boston Art Review.

Jessica Shearer is an editor at Boston Art Review and director of communications and marketing at the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship.

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