Gallery is one stop on long path to Agassiz arts center

Carolyn Shipley, right, and friend examine the works of Maud Morgan at tonight’s First Monday event at Cambridge’s Community Arts Council gallery. (Photo: Marc Levy)
Carolyn Shipley, right, and friend examine the works of Maud Morgan at tonight’s First Monday event at the Cambridge Arts Council gallery. (Photo: Marc Levy)

Some of the works on display at tonight’s “First Monday” event at the Cambridge Arts Council Offices and Gallery serve almost as concrete, three-dimensional metaphors for where they will — eventually — wind up: the long-planned Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center.

The 20 Sacramento St. center has been about a decade in the planning, and when the building is finally up, the finishing touches are ready, including fanciful door handles, light switch covers and faucet handles designed by local artists. Affixed to walls until installation in their rightful home, they are signs every aspect of the center is in place save the building itself.

The gathering, complete with a spread of Middle Eastern food, was to “give the public a chance to meet the artists who gave their time and art 10 years ago and have been waiting to see it at the center,” said Micah Englantin-Woods, administrative assistant for the

Artists’ faucet handles and light-switch covers are displayed at the gallery before installation at the Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center, which is being built. The placard explains that the center “will itself be a work of art“ where artists will “incorporate their work into the building and site design.” (Photo: Marc Levy)
Artists’ faucet handles and light-switch covers are displayed at the gallery before installation at the Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center, which is being built. The placard explains that the center “will itself be a work of art“ where artists will “incorporate their work into the building and site design.” (Photo: Marc Levy)

Agassiz Baldwin Community.

Sewer and water pipes have been laid and the foundation has been poured, she said. Further work depends on the weather, meaning there was no more definite start time for construction than “soon,” but the community intends for the building to be finished by June.

Morgan lived from 1903 to 1999 and was an Agassiz neighborhood resident from 1961 on. Her work was given frequent exhibitions, sold in the top galleries and is part of collections at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Whitney Museum and the Museum of Modern Art. Dying near the time plans for the center began, it was natural for it to be named after her, Englantin-Woods said.

Morgan was also a teacher of art and encourager of artists. Among visitors to this First Monday was Carolyn Shipley, a landscaper and garden designer who met Morgan in 1973 when both were focused on printmaking.

“Maud actually came to our print-making classes at the Mass. College of Art,” Shipley said. “She was just very, very positive and a good role model for other artists. She liked my work. She was very encouraging.”

Shipley is also acquainted with artists whose work will be incorporated into the Morgan center, including Mitch Ryerson and Phyllis Ewen, and appreciative of the center plans and current gallery show. “It’s really a great thing the city did,” she said of the First Monday show.

“Breaking Ground: The past, present and future of the 
Maud Morgan Visual Art Center,” will be at the 344 Broadway gallery of the Cambridge Arts Council (on the second floor) through Dec. 18. You can support the creation of the Maud Morgan Visual Arts Center by buying a personalized brick to be installed at the site.

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