Arts collectives arrange a succession; DAP eyes engagement with neighborhood

No tempestuous “artistic temperaments” were in evidence in Fields Corner recently as one arts collective gave way to its successor: The former Howard Art Project (HAP) space became home of the Dorchester Art Project (DAP).

The HAP took its name from its home base, the top floor of the Howard Building, an art deco style office building at 1486 Dorchester Ave. An artist-run studio and exhibition space it was founded by six members of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts community in June of 2011. HAP functioned as a sort of landlord, renting out small studio spaces, but also using its various galleries to host one-shot or short-term installations, MFA thesis exhibitions, drag performances, and other definition-defying experiments.

On May 31, 2015, after four years, HAP members handed over the keys to “some longtime friends and collaborators,” saying, “We are very happy to report that the space will continue to function as a studio and exhibition space, but under a different name, different mission, and a new cast of organizers.”

The segue from HAP to DAP was so smooth in part because nine of the thirteen resident artists of the HAP, including two of the original co-directors, Leah Craig and John R. Roy, remain as DAP resident artists. New members include Steve Carvalho, Eric Petitti, David Taylor, Anya Smolnikova and Nick Ward.

The members who are also Dorchester residents are Tom Willis, Darlin Fromenta, and Will Whelan, the current DAP director. Collage artist Whelan explains that he “kept the space going during the transition time.” Sarah Pollman, he says, has been a key member of the transition in her role as gallery director.

According to Whelan, the complex now houses studios for fourteen artists, a gallery, and a performance space. For now, the venue, which is open to the public Friday and Saturday evenings, will feature low-key performances like acoustic music, poetry and spoken word. For its closing receptions, there will be the classic wine and cheese.

DAP’s inaugural offering, “Between You and Me; Resident Group Show” ran from Aug. 14 through Sept. 18. The Dali-inspired “The Persistence of Memory” will be up weekends through Oct. 30. It will be followed by the intriguingly named show “Mimic” (Nov. 6-11).

DAP released a media statement that said in part,”In addition to our gallery programming, Dorchester Art Project seeks to promote creative engagement with the surrounding Fields Corner neighborhood. Future planning includes use of public spaces, such as vacant storefronts, to showcase both professional and youth artists; a visiting artist program in a local school; and outreach and gallery education programming for youth and local organizations. By maintaining a public presence, we seek to bring contemporary art to a wider audience.”

In practical terms, the DAP mission statement means that the collective will welcome visitors during the Dorchester Open Studios event later this month, continuing the HAP tradition.

Whelan teaches middle school art at the Helen Y. Davis Leadership Academy on Leonard Street (part of the former St. Ambrose complex). He plans to have DAP artists visit Davis art classes and to exhibit the work of the more noteworthy students off campus. To further that goal, Whelan is working with the Fields Corner Main Street to use storefront windows as exhibition spaces.

DAP invites the public to like them on Facebook, follow them on Instagram and visit their website.

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