Posted Aug 3, 2018 at 8:27 PM
What’s the best way to get to know an artist? If you see a painter or sculptor’s creations one at a time, in a show here and a show there, you can’t fully understand who they are or what they hope to convey. But when you see a developed series, expressed in a number of pieces displayed side by side, you get a more complete sense of the artist’s heart, mind and intentions.
At the S&G Project Gallery at Hatch Street Studios in New Bedford, gallerists Denn Santoro and Helen Granger offer immersion into the artist’s world. Their focus is solo exhibitions that encompass entire projects. Some of the artists they display have taken months to create their series, some years, but all of them present fully developed bodies of work.
Granger and Santoro strive for variety, displaying a wide range of materials and messages with each exhibit. Since the gallery opened in 2016, they have shown such diverse expressions as closeup photographs of botanical imagery, fabric and found-object sculpture inspired by the female body, and monoprints incorporating static electricity. This assortment reveals the dramatic power of the creative process, and that’s exactly what the pair hope to highlight.
While S&G tends to show local talent, they are open to artists from all across New England. “We are looking for conceptual execution,” explains Granger. “It can be anything from somber work to a more brightly colored series. What matters is the underlying thought.”
Their calendar features at least one public gathering per exhibit, in addition to opening and closing receptions. These occasions comprise lectures, musical performances, and artist talks, relating to each show’s unique theme. Photographer Deb Ehrens’ display of plant-themed photos, for example, included a visit from a local garden group.
The gallery also regularly participates in Hatch Street Studios’ ongoing schedule of events, including its well-attended annual holiday sale each November and a newly instituted “Second Saturdays” program every month.
Granger and Santoro had two particular goals from the beginning: to promote an appreciation for fine art, and to draw viewers to Hatch Street Studios. “We are trying to demystify art for people, make it more friendly,” says Santoro. “We want people to understand that you don’t have to be an art historian to know about art, to fall in love with it and want to live with it.”
He adds, “We want people to understand that this part of New Bedford is easy to get to, with free parking. There is momentum in this building. Stuff is happening here!”
S&G Project Gallery also runs an art brokerage, marketing works by Southcoast artists to businesses and private collectors who wish to enhance their spaces.
The brokerage recently collaborated with Bristol County Savings Bank in decorating their location in downtown New Bedford’s historic Candleworks building. With Santoro shepherding all aspects of the project including framing and hanging, the bank purchased 50 pieces of art from 8 local artists for their permanent collection.
“We will do any space that you want help curating good art into, and we have all price points,” says Santoro. “One living room we did was under $1,000.”
The fact that both Santoro and Granger are artists themselves brings a particular level of understanding to their efforts as gallerists.
A native of North Attleboro, Santoro loved photography from the moment he was handed a camera as a member of the yearbook staff in high school. When he began his studies at Southeastern Massachusetts University, now UMass Dartmouth, he was excited to discover Paul Rudolph’s distinctive architectural style.
Santoro’s interest in unique structures has extended throughout his artistic career to his current ongoing project of considering national museums as deconstructed spaces beyond the artifacts they house. From this standpoint, he has photographed the Hirshhorn Museum, the Peabody Essex Museum, and the Institute of Contemporary Art, among others.
Granger, originally from western Pennsylvania, loved to draw as a child. “I always knew art would be a part of my life,” she says. After attending the University of Hartford and then Hunter College, she worked in television and publishing, living on both coasts. Painting and drawing remained a constant, “based on observations of inner life and the world around me.”
At last, says Granger, “I washed up in New Bedford,” where she met Santoro at an opening reception at Gallery X. That was back in 2007, and they have been together ever since.
The idea to open a gallery was first Santoro’s. Granger was hesitant until she visited the sunny studio at 88 Hatch Street and met Jeff Glassman, owner of the building. Then she was impressed by the potential to reach an audience within the budding art community at Hatch Street, which Glassman has helped to foster.
“Jeff is committed to the artists,” Granger says. “He is committed to the building and helping bring it to fruition as an art destination. It’s a nice space to be in.”
Today Granger and Santoro are proud of the strong response their gallery has received. “We have sold at least one piece out of every show,” Santoro notes, “which says we are picking work that is getting people’s attention.”
S&G Project Gallery, located in Space 306A at 88 Hatch Street in New Bedford, is open by appointment, by event, or by chance. Event information can be found on the gallery’s Facebook page. For further details, call 774.279.2606 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Please note that the Hatch Street building has a handicapped entrance ramp and, during the gallery’s events, the elevator is staffed for easy access to the third floor.
Catherine Carter is a New Bedford artist and former Standard-Times journalist. Her profiles of area businesses will appear in this space regularly.
Original story here.