Out of the Blue arts venue heads to Allston; Cambridge gets to keep empty Blockbuster
The Out of the Blue Art Gallery that closed in December after 21 years in or near Central Square has been offered a new home, but it’s not in Cambridge – though there is a Cambridge connection.
Out of the Blue would reopen in a building known as The FireHouse at 14 Harvard Ave., Allston, a third-floor space that gallery owner Tom Tipton and his partners hope to expand beyond visual art into performance “and make it an all-ages [place for] art, music, classes and makers for the long term,” while noting wryly that part of the goal this time, under the business management guidance of partner Parama Chattopadhyay, is to “not lose money doing it.”
“It’s not going to be at all like Mass. Ave.,” Tipton said. With its more remote location, “it’ll have to be more like a destination.”
His spaces on Prospect Street and then at 541 Massachusetts Ave. were also grab-bags of activities, including as a venue for all-ages concerts and as an exhibition space with the goal of making art affordable for artists and buyers. But landlord 3MJ Realty and its principal, Morris Naggar, wanted the gallery to pay increasingly large rents over time and the otherwise unused former Blockbuster video storefront, and Out of the Blue couldn’t stay on top of the payments. The 5,000-square-foot space is now empty.
The FireHouse is owned by the Saters, the family that runs The Middle East complex of nightclubs and restaurants that includes ZuZu and Sonia in Central Square, as well as the Center for Arts at the Armory in Somerville. Joseph Sater reached out to Tipton to offer the third-floor space at a “more realistic” rent than Out of The Blue had toward the end in Central Square, Tipton said.
Out of the Blue initially looked for a new location in Cambridge or Somerville, but after the closing the search turned by necessity toward looking as far away as Malden.
At the space in Allston, Tipton said, “there will be space available for artists and makers to work in, as well as room for art shows, music and other creative activities,” but first he and Chattopadhyay must fundraise. They are planning an event Aug. 11 at The Firehouse with a variety of music and art.