‘I love what it has become’
Owner of new Greenfield gallery hopes to engage entire community
Boxcar Gallery owner Kim Curtin. Recorder/Paul Franz
'Room for One More" oil by Jeston Rodriguez. Recorder/Paul Franz
"Waiting To Cross" photo by Kim Curtain. Recorder/Paul Franz
"Stitch" by Aaron Cusimano. Recorder/Paul Franz
"All I Got" oil on canvas by Ella Davidson. Recorder/Paul Franz
In a small space of just 100 square feet in the heart of downtown Greenfield hangs colorful landscapes, abstract self-portraits and photographs of people and places familiar and unfamiliar. A five-minute stroll through that light-filled, clean space can lift spirits and inspire creativity.
Artist and owner Kim Curtin opened the Boxcar Gallery, which is located at 200 Main St., after talking with a friend about dilapidated storefronts and how they could be brought back to life with art.
Her friend had started The Empty Spaces Project in Putnam, Conn. The project is filling empty storefronts with artist exhibitions to foster creative economy and attract local businesses.
“I saw this small space and wanted to fill it with beauty,” said Curtin. “I love what it has become, I brought something beautiful to it.”
Curtin, who has lived in Greenfield since 2000, said she started contacting her artist friends and others artists she had heard of or met over the years and got an overwhelming response.
“I go for diversity each month,” she said. “The artists I feature change each month and I like to give people a little bit of everything during a show.”
Admission is free to the Boxcar, which in March features the works of Linn Bower of Shelburne Falls, Kenneth Murphy of Greenfield and Aaron Snow of Colrain.
Curtin said there will be oil paintings focusing on still-life and portraits by Bower. Murphy will present his abstract portraiture, while Snow will offer his water-color landscapes and abstracts.
Curtin does iPhone art; she takes photos with her iPhone and then uses paint apps, including Brushes, to create her art. Some of her works are on display and there are artists from Chicopee, New York, Fitchburg, Beckett, Chicago and Northampton joining the local artists. Their work includes metal sculpture, illustrations and outdoor settings.
On April 4, Curtin will hold a “Meet the Artists” reception for her April artists. The reception will be from 5 to 8 p.m. at 200 Main St.
“I wanted to be part of Greenfield’s creative economy,” said Curtin. “People can walk in any day of the week and see amazing art — on their lunch hour, after work, before work. It brightens their day.”
It’s a short stroll through the Boxcar Gallery, which is sandwiched between Plum and The Brass Buckle cafe, but during that stroll you can see everything from oil paintings to photographs and sculptures; surrealism, impressionism, realism and abstract forms of art.
“Each month there’s something new,” said Curtin. “That’s what’s so nice about the gallery. You can come back again and again and see something different each time.”
Curtin said she’s happy to be one of the many downtown spaces drawing people not just to her gallery, but to restaurants and stores.
“They come in and see the art and then head next door or down the street for a bite; or they go shopping,” she said. “Downtown is the place to be.”
Artists like 26-year-old Sophie Theroux have been featured in the gallery. Theroux, an award-winning painter, showed her painting of an airbrushed frog a couple of months ago.
“I found Sophie because her dad was playing music outside of the gallery and told me about her,” said Curtin. “She ended up showing five pieces that month.”
Curtin recently chose another artist who lives on Martha’s Vineyard.
“I showed his photographs on canvas, which were his journey through sobriety,” she said.
Curtin, who was born in Hartford, Conn., and served in the Air Force, said she had a chance to visit all sorts of museums in Europe during her service. “I’ve seen and enjoyed art from all over the world,” she said.
She plans to offer the gallery to artists and crafters who want to hold classes.
“I want people to come in evenings and teach classes,” she said. “I want to engage the entire community.”
Curtin said she charges a hanging fee, gets a commission on sales and writes grants to support the gallery. She said she has an agreement with her landlord, who charges a reduced rent for all of the work she’s done to the space.
For some of her artists — the younger ones – her show is the first time they get to present their work, said Curtin.
“I want to give them a chance,” she said.
Curtin said her main objective, after sharing art with the community, is to bring back excitement to downtown Greenfield.
“Every month, people will get to see some great art, and a lot of it is done by their neighbors,” she said. “People can get to know others by experiencing their art the way the artist intend for it to be experienced.”
Curtin said she hopes to team up with downtown merchants at some point.
“For instance, I’d like possibly to team up with World Eye Bookshop when it’s having a book-signing event,” said Curtin. “If we planned ahead, I could have artists whose art is based on a specific theme — the theme of the book being featured.”
Curtin said she’d also like to work with Greenfield Community College and have interns or artists help in the gallery.
“Art is meant to be shared,” said Curtin. “That’s what I’m doing.”
Boxcar Gallery is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is closed on Monday.
For more information, call 413-475-4427 or firstname.lastname@example.org. www.theboxcargallery.com.
For more about the Empty Spaces Project in Putnam, Conn., visit Facebook.
Staff reporter Anita Fritz worked at The Recorder from 2002 to 2005 and then returned in 2006. She covers Greenfield and can be reached at email@example.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 280.
Staff photographer Paul Franz has worked for The Recorder since 1988. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 413-772-0261 ext. 266. His website is www.franzphoto.com.