A Space of Their Own:

Contemporary Arts Gallery Opens on Beacon

By Susie Davidson


On September 15, Brookline will acquire a new cultural haven as the Contemporary Arts Gallery opens at 1378B Beacon St. in Coolidge Corner.

Long a dream of owner Amy Rubin and her husband Michael, the venture represents the fruition of a lifetime of aesthetic cultivation.

Featuring a wide variety of handmade crafts including dishes, pottery, wine glasses, candles, needlework, blown glass, jewelry, silk flowers and more, the gallery, housed in the former Cellular One site between Unique Simchas and Fish Kids, will showcase the work of artists and designers from all over the world. Represented craftspeople will encompass all manner of style, professional level and price range.

The room will also offer an "art studio" corner, where patrons can select materials for their own projects.

Rubin has strong ties to the town. "I spent the first ten years of my life in Coolidge Corner and attended the Devotion School," she recalls. "My first candies and crayons were purchased at Irving's on evening walks with my grandfather. When we became empty nesters my husband and I moved back to Coolidge Corner to have an urban lifestyle where the sense of community was alive and well."

Her professional life has been rich and productive; it's included "publishing a fantasy novel for children, founding a preschool, working in the toy industry, and always spending time in the arts, writing and artmaking."

She has high praise for a popular town figure. "For several years I was a realtor with Chobee Hoy. In my travels I have come across artists who have been given the honorary title of national treasure. Chobee is certainly a Brookline community treasure."

No doubt, Rubin intends to continue her community contributions with the gallery. She is excited about finally having an opportunity to coalesce her passion for artwork into a single setting.

"My husband, Michael, and I have always enjoyed art together. We have followed the evolution of the crafts scene carefully since 1975. Crafts have now come of age and the lines between art and craft have been happily blurred. Most of the great museums have crafts in their collections. Although our artists are mainly American, there is an excellent representation from England and several other countries."

She took special care in assembling a diverse and beautiful collection for the space. "Some of the housewares have been chosen specifically because they are beautiful and inexpensive. On the other end of the spectrum, several of our artists are in well-known collections like the Marriot Collection, and some have been chosen for exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Others are emerging artists, selected for their innovation and excellence."

Rubin hopes that the gallery will have a universal appeal. "It has been of primary importance to us," she stresses, "to put together a collection that represents a wide range of pocketbooks and tastes. Therefore we will be carrying everything from lovely $5 silk flowers and unusual candles to the higher end signed pieces. We want people to be comfortable nurturing their daily needs for art as well as coming for those special pieces of jewelry and gifts."

The Rubins' home life reflects their artistic leanings. "Our home is filled with family art as well as favorite chosen objects. Michael's mother, an award winning basket maker, came to her art when she was 71. My father began sculpting when he was in his fifties. My mother did needlework and Michael's father was a traditional furniture maker by hobby. Maybe that was why we couldn't resist choosing the mesquite wood kitchen work table inlaid with turquoise for the gallery."

And their own works will be part of the display. "Michael is taken with photography and I paint, anything and everything."

The couple have two children: their son Adam owns Waltham's Bison County BBQ restaurant (Michael owns Burrito Max in Kenmore Square) and her daughter Jennifer, a political and social scientist, lives in England. They have four young grandsons, who "all have their wonderful art prominently displayed in our home."

Clearly, they are looking to the gallery to be an active extension of this environment, and they're ready to roll. "We look forward," Rubin emphasizes, "to welcoming people into our gallery as if it were our home. I will be there to help them find something special, whether it's a simple candle or a more complex craft piece, so that when they come home and turn on the lights, seeing it will bring them happiness.

"I look forward to talking to people about what they might make as well as what they might buy. People's lives should be filled with the special things they have chosen or made to be part of their homes."