“Desperate times call for desperate measures" has become, lately, an inevitable tactic, and the art world has joined the urgency in full force. Some concepts are more successful and engaging than others, and it's reassuring to see the soup cauldron of creativity still simmering away. An endeavor we recently savored at Boston’s Shelter in Place Gallery warrants a taste. 


After following the very contemporary works by the locally-based artist Katelyn Ledford, we relished seeing her put up a show with what seemed like large scale paintings and an installation. But after looking into the program at the Gallery, we realized that the venue, in reality, is a model, built at 1:12 scale, and therefore, allows artists to create ambitious installations with fewer worries about budget and space. Focused on presenting the works by local, Boston-based artists, the founders of this project, Eben Haines and Delaney Dameron, elevated the program of online shows to another realm by creating an analog virtual reality. While we’ve seen similar versions done in the past, as at the Arsham/Fieg Gallery in NYC, it’s a bigger challenge for a non-commercial gallery that does generate revenue through sales. The ambition and enthusiasm are infectious.

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For her exhibition "on view" last June 23—26, Ledford lifted and expanded the medium of painting beyond walls and frames, reveling in a variety of techniques and styles. Two-dimensional works floated aloft custom-made stands amid the airy, beam ceilinged room. A "large" installation dominates the center, as the artist plays with the symbols and humor.  Two works on paper are tech-glitched, mixed media self-portraits made as "a reflection of the mixed emotions amidst our current reality and subsequent media consumption." The centerpiece of the show, Painting Fatigue, was created by combining cutout work on paper along with 3D elements, the large installation addressing the inability to trust our own visual field. As the current global miasma tests our skill in navigating the jungle of conspiracy theories, memes, and clickbait media, she invites us to gaze and question the boundaries between the real, physical life, and the throwaway content we encounter daily on the Internet. 

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Besides Ledford, the gallery has been presenting Miles Jaffe's scale shifting sculptural works, Sharon Lacey’s jaundiced look at the downside of a human-centered universe and Eben Haines' celebration of the heightened appreciation for the basic beauties of life that have surfaced as we shelter in place, to name a few. —Sasha Bogojev