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Twelve Fall Exhibitions to Check Out in Boston and Beyond

From Providence to Portland and everywhere in between, these are the fall exhibitions our editors are excited about.

Feature by BAR Editorial

An installation by vanessa german featuring exquisite sculptural work.

Installation view of “vanessa german—THE RAREST BLACK WOMAN ON THE PLANET EARTH” at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA, on view October 13, 2022–May 28, 2023. Photo by Laura Shea. Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

Autumn may be nature’s slowdown, but in Boston’s museums and galleries, things are just starting to kick off. The students and institutions that help drive the life cycle of this city returned a little more than a month ago, and in that time we’ve seen a slew of great shows, with many more on the way. Here, you’ll find twelve exhibitions you can catch now, from solo spotlights to group shows tackling topics ranging from the exuberance of childhood to the ramifications of incarceration.

Christie Neptune, “En Route Towards El Dorado: Deepened Relations and The Descent Back Home,” Grant Wahlquist Gallery
Portland, ME
September 23–October 20, 2022

Christie Neptune, Disparate Points in Space and Time, 2020. Digital chromogenic print. 27 x 36 (sheet), 24.75 x 36.75 (framed). Courtesy of Grant Wahlquist Gallery.

Climbing the steep stairs to Grant Wahlquist Gallery always rewards. Through October 29, the pitch yields Christie Neptune’s “En Route Towards El Dorado: Deepened Relations and The Descent Back Home,” an exhibition of the interdisciplinary artist’s photographs. Taking the mythic “El Dorado” as inspiration, the Guyanese-American Neptune explores how colonial histories shape our present and future. Including self-portraits, portraits in landscapes, and still-lifes, “En Route Towards El Dorado” promises to demonstrate that people and place are always in the making, always in flux.
—Leah Triplett Harrington

A Temple for Timeless Beasts,” Mills Gallery, Boston Center for the Arts
Boston, MA
October 8–November 12, 2022

Installation view of  “A Temple for Timeless Beasts” on view at Boston Center for the Arts from October 8–November 12, 2022. Photo by Melissa Blackall.

In “A Temple for Timeless Beasts,” artist Anukriti and curator Jasper A. Sanchez forge sacred paths of queer spirituality. The transdisciplinary exhibition blends painting, video, sculpture, and poetry. Anukriti, drawing upon their Hindu upbringing, conjures new visions of divine iconography—androgynous, hairy, curvaceous, and invigorated deities (and/or “beasts”). Sanchez’s curatorial work grounds the exhibition in queer theory, rendering it accessible and emotionally impactful. An installed church pew invites reflection and communion—visitors can spend time reading The Book of Being, a collection of poems curated by Anukriti and Sanchez, available for purchase.
—Maya Rubio

Sanctuary City,” Somerville Museum
Somerville, MA
September 16–November 19, 2022

Installation view of “Sanctuary City” at Somerville Museum, on view from September 16–November 19, 2022. Photo courtesy of Somerville Museum.

At Somerville Museum, Julia Csekö curates “Sanctuary City, a group show that confronts a system that requires designated spaces to protect human rights. Featuring twelve artists across various mediums from installation to comic books, the exhibition considers a range of immigrant and refugee experiences—stories of hope, resiliency, and community building. The exhibition offers various public programs, including in-person tours in English, Spanish, and Portuguese, as well as a reading of !Vamos¡ Let’s Cross the Bridge, a children’s book written by featured artist Raúl the Third on October 22.
—Maya Rubio

Mariana Ramos Ortiz: Contra viento y marea” at Central Contemporary Arts
Providence, RI
October 8–December 8, 2022

Installation view of “Mariana Ramos Ortiz: Contra viento y marea,” on view at Central Contemporary Arts October 8–December 8, 2022. Photo by Rena Rong. Courtesy of the gallery.

Plotting a day trip to Providence this fall? Stop by PVD’s newest art space, Central Contemporary Arts (CCA), to see their debut in-house exhibition, “Contra viento y marea,” a solo show by interdisciplinary artist Mariana Ramos Ortiz. Through dynamic works in sculpture, screenprints, and video installation, Ramos Ortiz reclaims and rewrites colonial narratives of Puerto Rico and offers visions of Puerto Rican resistance and futurity. In the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Fiona, which continues to leave thousands on the island without power or adequate aid, Ramos Ortiz’s exhibition is an especially urgent and affecting perspective. All of us at BAR are excited to see what future exhibitions and opportunities CCA will bring to the Providence arts community.
—Gina Lindner

Peter Sacks: Resistance” at Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University
Waltham, MA
August 25–December 30, 2022

Installation view of “Peter Sacks: Resistance” at Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, on view August 25–December 30, 2022, Lois Foster Wing. Photo by Julia Featheringill Photography. Courtesy of Rose Art Museum.

“Peter Sacks: Resistance” offers a remedy to anyone (i.e., all of us) who has exhausted their own stores of outrage. With layers of paint, fabric, photography, text, and ephemera, Sacks pays brilliant homage to the artists, writers, and leaders who have inspired his own dedication to activism, which began during the apartheid era in his native South Africa. His love of language—he is a celebrated poet and scholar—is apparent throughout, not only by the high concentration of writers in the more than ninety portraits, but also in the accompanying soundscape, where contributors as illustrious and varied as John Kerry and Claire Messud read a quote or a passage from the activist of their choosing. A visit is both humbling and galvanizing, a moment to look back at those who would urge us forward.
—Jessica Shearer

“Quantum Sanctuary” and “No Vehicles in the Park” at Fitchburg Art Museum
Fitchburg, MA
October 1, 2022–January 8, 2023

Works by artists Cicely Carew and Gabriel Sosa in their separate solo shows at Fitchburg Art Museum. Left: Cicely Carew, Light Up, 2022. Digital art collage. Photo courtesy of the artist Right: Gabriel Sosa, Open to interpretation, 2022. Graphite, colored pencil, and oil pastel on paper. Photo by Charles Sternaimolo courtesy of Fitchburg Art Museum.

At Fitchburg Art Museum, two solo shows by artists Cicely Carew and Gabriel Sosa scrape the veneer off of our everyday experiences to recall what lies beneath. Through her luminescent (sometimes interactive) assemblages, Carew’s “Quantum Sanctuary” renders harmonious the bright multiplicities of selves the natural world cultivates when we allow it. Across the hall, Sosa’s fragile, stratified drawings in “No Vehicles in the Park” expose the havoc wreaked by our faulty legal scaffolding. Both shows contend with how forces larger than ourselves act on our bodies—and ask us to question our engagement with the systems designed to support us.
—Jessica Shearer

Toni Pepe: An Ordinary Devotion” at Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University
Framingham, MA
October 8, 2022–January 29, 2023

Installation view of “Toni Pepe: An Ordinary Devotion” at the Danforth Art Museum, on view October 8, 2022–January 29, 2023. Photo courtesy of Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University.

In her exhibition at the Danforth Art Museum at Framingham State University, Toni Pepe uses mixed media and installation-based work to delve into the everyday, invisible labor of caregivers, primarily mothers. Pepe’s practice is deeply rooted in archival work—repurposing found and vernacular photography from the last century, she explores commonly held conventions in society through a feminist lens. “An Ordinary Devotion” threads past with present as it comments on the nuances of motherhood and how much is demanded of women and caregivers in a world where domestic labor is taken for granted.
—Karolina Hać

“Marking Time: Art in the Age of Incarceration” at Bell Gallery, List Lobby, and Cohen Gallery, Brown Arts Institute
Providence, RI
September 16–December 18, 2022

Installation view of “Marking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration,” featuring works by Mary Enoch Elizabeth Baxter, Jared Owens, Daniel McCarthy Clifford, and Gilberto Rivera, Bell and Cohen Galleries, Brown Arts Institute, Brown University, on view September 16–December 18, 2022. Photo by Mike Cohea. Courtesy of Brown Arts Institute.

The traveling exhibitionMarking Time: Art in the Age of Mass Incarceration” includes art made by people in prison, who were formerly in prison, or who’ve had family members in prison, as well as other contemporary artists whose practices respond to the US mass incarceration crisis. With two million Americans in prison or jail—including one in twelve Black men in their thirties—it’s a crisis that deeply affects our culture yet is often hidden from view. The exhibition asks viewers to think about the time they have and how much of these artists’ time has been taken away.
—Kaitlyn Ovett Clark

To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood” at the ICA Boston
Boston, MA
October 6, 2022–February 26, 2023

Installation view of “To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood” at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, on view October 6, 2022–February 26, 2023. Photo by Mel Taing. Courtesy of the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston.

Billed as the first thematic group exhibition of its kind in the US, the ICA’s “To Begin Again: Artists and Childhood” gathers more than seventy-five works by artists ranging from Jean-Michel Basquiat and Faith Ringgold to Boston’s own Ekua Holmes. More than twenty of those works were made in collaboration with young people—like the students who’ve left their mark for Oscar Murillo’s Frequencies, a project that has sent 40,000 blank canvases to spend a semester accruing doodles on classroom desks around the world. And the exhibition has been designed with all ages in mind, with tiered reading levels, lower hanging heights, and special programs like gallery storytimes and an art-making activity from local artist Elisa Hamilton.
—Jacqueline Houton

“Nature Morte (Sort of)” at Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, Providence College Galleries
Providence, RI
September 6, 2022–March 3, 2023

Installation view, “Nature Morte (Sort of)” at Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery, Providence College Galleries, on view September 6, 2022–March 3, 2023. Photo by Scott Alario. Courtesy of Providence College Galleries.

With “Nature Morte (Sort of),” Providence College Galleries pulls from its permanent collection to offer a fresh look at one of art history’s seemingly traditional subjects—the still life.  The exhibition includes mostly works on paper, a stark departure from the typically displayed oil paintings. The works, ranging from Antonio Carrau’s abstract heavily patterned prints of flowers in vases to Elizabeth Corkery’s installation of foliage printed on fabric draped behind photographs of imperial gardens, invite the viewer to reassess their own relationship to nature, beauty, and time.
—Kaitlyn Ovett Clark

“New Formations” at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum
Lincoln, MA
October 6, 2022–March 13, 2023

Dara Friedman, Dancer, still, 2011, 16 mm film transferred to video, 25 minutes. Courtesy of the artist.

Even for those of us who steer clear of sports, it’s hard not to admit there’s something remarkable and captivating about watching the human body undergo strenuous feats in the name of competition and personal accomplishment. At the deCordova, “New Formations” brings together a collection of photographs, film, paintings, and multimedia works that center movement and gatherings. From Pelle Cass’s dizzying manipulations of sports fields to anonymous, amateur photographs of parades and beach days, the exhibition is as much about the spectacle of sport as it is the joy of sharing in human activity together.
—Jameson Johnson

“vanessa german: THE RAREST BLACK WOMAN ON THE PLANET EARTH” at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum
South Hadley, MA
October 13, 2022–May 28, 2023

Installation view of “vanessa german—THE RAREST BLACK WOMAN ON THE PLANET EARTH” at Mount Holyoke College Art Museum, South Hadley, MA, on view October 13, 2022–May 28, 2023. Photo by Laura Shea. Courtesy of Mount Holyoke College Art Museum.

When vanessa german was invited to create a body of work around the seventy-fifth anniversary of the Joseph Allen Skinner Museum—a collection of over 7,000 objects acquired throughout the lifetime of the wealthy silk trader who bequeathed the collection to Mount Holyoke College in 1946—emancipatory practices were on the artist’s mind. Here, german went through the process of touching every single collection item, meditating on them, and transforming the history of these objects. All the while, she worked with students to collect objects, quotes, and stories that would inform a new body of what she calls “power figures,” clad in everything from angel wings to pink quartz to household tchotchkes. german’s work as a sculptor, performance artist, writer, and activist is often centered around Black healing through community empowerment. At Mount Holyoke (which, by the way, is right on the way from Boston to MASS MoCA and absolutely worth the stop), german’s charming personality shines through a new video piece while tenderness and healing are present throughout every sculpture.
—Jameson Johnson 

Kaitlyn Ovett Clark is managing editor for Boston Art Review and the exhibitions and public programs manager at the Tufts University Art Galleries at the SMFA.

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

Jacqueline Houton is senior editor at Boston Art Review and a copyeditor at Candlewick Press.

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

Gina Lindner is communications manager at Boston Art Review, an arts writer and an interdisciplinary artist. 

Maya Rubio is an independent curator and editor at Boston Art Review. Recent projects include “What’s the Secret?” at Gallery 263 and “M’Kenzy Cannon: Please Let Me In” at Boston Center for the Arts.

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

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

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