By Elaine Sorrentino
I will never forget walking through South Shore Conservatory (SSC) the day South Shore Art Center’s fiber artist exhibit opened in 2006. It was magical! Spanning the wall that spans two floors, was the most beautiful, intricately handstitched quilt I have ever seen. Virginia Holloway was its creator. As I moved in to get a closer look, I realized that some of the squares in the pattern were as tiny as one half inch wide. My open-mouth stare said it all – I was a fan!
South Shore Art Center (SSAC) artists’ work has hung in our art galleries for years. With our 2004 renovation, we are able to provide more expansive exhibition space for these gifted visual artists. In our new space – South Shore Music Circus Gallery on the first floor, and Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery on the second floor – we have had the pleasure of displaying (for sale) everything from Marshfield photographer Mike Sleeper and his stunning landscapes, to botanical artists Kay Kopper, Julie Sims Messenger, Sarah Roche and Ruth Ann Wetherby Frattasio, to the passionate artwork of husband/wife artists Liz Haywood-Sullivan and J. Michael Sullivan. We are grateful that this partnership both allows us to enjoy stunning local art, and providing SSAC artists with exposure to new potential buyers.
I recently had a lively conversation with South Shore Art Center Executive Director Patrice Maye, who is also the parent of a South Shore Conservatory percussion student. A founding member of the Scituate Harbor Cultural Council, Patrice is always delighted to see collaboration between the arts. She said that her gallery artists, who are juried in, are always seeking ways to connect with new audiences, which is something the Conservatory galleries provide for them. All SSAC members have the opportunity to exhibit at two member shows per year, but it’s only the 180 gallery artists who are invited to show their work at satellite locations such as SSC and the Paul Pratt Library in Cohasset.
In conceptualizing SSC shows, which change every three or four months, Patrice sometimes puts together a theme, then sends an “all call” to her artists. For example, past themes or titles have included Parsing Imagination, where the artist took you on a mind journey with abstract pieces. Sometimes three or four artists will present a show with a common focus, such as the botanical artists. Other times shows have been seasonal, or all watercolors, all oils, or all photography. Patrice is looking in a new direction for upcoming shows, thinking that perhaps a concept-themed exhibition might be exciting.
One of the pieces that received the most buzz in recent years, was a piece called Disco Deer by Stephen (Stucky) Jiranek. As people headed up the stairs to the Palmer gallery, they were greeted by this fabulous deer head, made up of mirrored tiles. Disco Deer had parents and students chuckling to themselves on their way to lessons on the second floor. We enjoyed it so much we asked and were given permission to keep it on our walls beyond the duration of the show. We were sad to see it mosey on to its next home.
I invite you to stop by and check out these South Shore Art Center artists. I guarantee you’ll be impressed. During the school year, South Shore Conservatory’s Robert & Dorothy Palmer Gallery and South Shore Music Circus Gallery are open Monday through Friday, 9 am to 6 pm, Saturday, 9 am to 2 pm, and during scheduled concerts. There is no admission charge. South Shore Conservatory is located at One Conservatory Drive, Hingham.
To learn more about SSC’s art galleries, visit sscmusic.org or “like” South Shore Conservatory on Facebook.
Elaine Sorrentino is South Shore Conservatory’s Communications Director.