To Site of Weston Gallery
By Susie Davidson
Poets, storytellers, musicians, dancers, videographers, art students, senior artists, shelter animals, painters, sculptors, drummers, Tai Chi artists, healers, tarot readers, comedians and its satellite art galleries are gearing up to celebrate what is hopefully the end of the Out of the Blue Gallery’s relocation troubles.
Plagued with a constant threat of eviction and accompanying financial and legal burdens for over a year, Deb Priestly and Tom Tipton look to be assuming residence, as of Sept. 1, in the space formerly occupied by the Weston Gallery at 106 Prospect St. in Central Square.
Priestly had heard about the space, which was first offered to a realtor, whose decline made the opportunity theirs. They now need to change the licensing over; the gallery is also waiting for their nonprofit status to come through.
“We’ll be signing a five-year lease there sometime this week,” said Tipton, who hopes for a grand reopening by the beginning of October, in time for the Oct. 4 and 5 CAOS (Cambridgeport Artists’ Open Studios) participation. They’ll spend much of September renovating the façade repair and painting outside and in.
“The new space is a few feet smaller, but a numbr of feet longer,” he said. “It has more usable floor space.
“And, we plan on getting it air conditioned,” he added.
Their present landlords, Jamal and Manal Abu-Rubieh, are presumably going to change the zoning at the old gallery at 168 Brookline St. and turn it into a rental residence.
“They’re happy for us,” said Tipton. “They even offered to let us stay, but since the insurance went up, they’d have to raise the rent. We’ve made our peace with them.”
Two months’ rent for the transition was raised through benefits and events as well as an arts supporter benefactor.
“We will still have community events and keep true to our mission,” said Priestly, “and provide an inexpensive venue for all artists to promote their artwork and expression. All artists and performers and hosts of venues being held at Out of the Blue Gallery can feel confident that these activities will continue as planned.
“We will continue to cater to all types of artists, young, old, new, polished and disabled/challenged, giving a fair chance to all.”
“There are no steps,” added Tipton, “so it’s more handicapped accessible. And if the bathroom isn’t big enough for a wheelchair, we’ll fix that.”
“Within our new move,” continued Priestly, “we will strive to have volunteers help keep the gallery open, even at night. Everyone wants the new Out of the Blue Gallery to succeed and make more sales, and so many loyal artists have offered to help with the packing, moving, unpacking, office work etc.”
Tipton stressed that the new locale will be more accessible, and also safer for women to walk there at night. “It’s in a very prime selling location,” said Priestly, “which would be exciting to our artists, and very convenient for the art consumers.
The site features access to a free parking lot after 5 p.m. Many food options, including Bread and Circus, the Harvest Co-op, Starbucks, the 1369 Coffeeshop, Amelia’s Trattoria and Store 24 abound as well, by contrast to the fairly secluded former venue.
Neighborhood issues should also be minimal to nonexistent. “We don’t do loud, noisy things, and we’re pretty cooperative,” said Tipton. “Thus, we don’t expect any problems.
“We think we will be able to do a better job servicing the arts community.”
The Senior Art show will continue at the 168 Brookline St. space until the end of the month. Presently, Out of the Blue’s weekly schedule features Stone Soup Poetry on Monday, Drawing Classes on Tuesday, Acoustic Music on Wednesday, Drawing Classes on Thursday, “Open Bark” Poetry on Saturday and Drum Circle on Sunday, with Fridays open, and intermittent events filling in as well.