A rent increase is forcing Out of the Blue Gallery to leave its home between Central and Inman squares, but founder Tom Tipton thinks he knows where the gallery is headed next – “a pretty dope location” not far away on Massachusetts Avenue in a deal that could be pinned down as soon as today.
Either way, August will be the last month at 106 Prospect St. for the 18-year-old gallery, Tipton said.
“The landlord is retiring. He wants to get some more money out of [the property and] we’ve been under value for a long time, way below market value,” Tipton said Wednesday.
That’s been a blessing and a necessity for a community-based gallery born in 1996 with the goal of making art affordable for artists and buyers, where many shows are benefits, the staff is mainly volunteer and “artists of all abilities are given a chance” be it in painting, drawing, poetry, short story, acting or singing. Rather than focusing on high-end sales, the gallery has been a long-time gathering space for weekly poetry readings and storytelling, the monthly Dire Literary Series and dance and meditation and sound healing classes.
Rent hikes and real estate changes that bring the sudden reality of market rates have meant the end of some Cambridge arts events and organizations or relocation for others. Last year, the city lost the Deborah Mason School of Dance to Somerville, along with the various programs it hosts, despite city councillors’ assurances to the contrary.
“The priority is to try to keep the place alive. It’s important to me and to a lot of people,” Tipton said of Out of the Blue.
Because the amount of money needed to move isn’t known, Tipton said, the “Save Out of the Blue Gallery” page on the website gofundme.com so far states a goal of only $10.
Not only could that amount rise when talks result in a new gallery location, but a couple more, “quieter” benefit events could be set up in addition to the three that have been publicized:
8:30 p.m. July 6 at T.T. the Bear’s Place, 10 Brookline St., Central Square, with guest DJ and master of ceremonies Sterling Golden – resident DJ of Legacy and co-host of “SterlingSinn Radio” on WEMF Radio – doing some spinning between bands All Eyes on Me; Ex-Magicians; Thick Wild; and Só Sol, with hospitality and party favors from Angela Hartt. Tickets are $10.
10 p.m. July 16 at ZuZu, 474 Massachusetts Ave., Central Square, with Audrey Harrer; Of The Sun; MoltCorps; and Main Fader. Tickets are $5, or a $10 donation at the door, with one prize ticket for a $5 donation and 10 additional tickets for another $5 – called “11 chances to win something really cool” that includes art and leather from Leather Pixie.
Noon, July 26 at the gallery, 106 Prospect St. with a sidewalk sale and 5 p.m. barbecue and acoustic music event with Joe’s Truck Stop; Só Sol; Sam Franklin; Accordion Sandwich; Anda Volley; Ryan Wilcox; Andrew Mello; and more to be announced, as well as improv dance by 1000virtuesdance.
Art raffles are to take place at each event. Prizes include a $100 photography package from RedHotBox Studios; photographs by David Stickney or a mystery photographer; a pair of Vans from Berk’s Shoes; a painting by Susan Innamorato; or paintings by Meghan Chiampa.
“We invite you to join us for a series of benefits to help us raise money to offset the financial burden of relocating. Every penny donated will go toward improving the gallery to better serve the community,” according to a Facebook page promoting the events.
After recently writing about Inman Square having “all the makings for an artistic/literary mecca,” blogger, musician and poet dGabe Evau said Tuesday that losing the gallery was a setback.
“I had advocated for an Inman-based revolution in the arts, and in culture, of which I had hoped OOTB would be a central player. Perhaps this was an overextension of inspired optimism on my part,” Evau wrote. “In any case, it will certainly become an even more daunting challenge with the gallery’s imminent absence from the scene. I dread to imagine what will replace it.”
Hopefully Out of the Blue will find a new home in Cambridge, and continue to nurture her longstanding investment in the arts and independent thought. More and more, the city is being encroached upon by economic interests that have more to do with profit and convenience than community and culture … down the street at The Field, not that it isn’t a great bar, you can see a line of New Cambridge Yuppies waiting in line to drink and watch the World Cup – what a shame, when we will no longer see a line of hippies, artists and average citizens congregating outside the gallery to discuss art, music and poetry.