Gallery 263 part of Cambridge Open Studios 2017

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A Cambridgeport stop in this year's tour

Illustrations: 1) Gallery 263 at Pearl and Putnam.   2) Jenny Lai Olsen.    3) Leo Meullner.

A display of paintings by 22 area artists at Gallery 263 was a feature of Cambridge’s Open Studios program April 14-15. The street-level gallery takes its name from the address: 263 Pearl Street, on the corner of Putnam Avenue in Cambridgeport. A mural on the outer wall recalls the furniture shop located there at one time.

The two-day Open Studios project is organized by the municipal Cambridge Arts Council; it offers the public a chance to see what’s going on right now in arts and crafts programs here in the city. Gallery 263 was #52 on the list of venues featured during Open Studios this year. Artists whose works form part of the current Gallery 263 show were taking turns greeting guests at the showroom's front table during the weekend. They welcomed visitors, discussing the show and the local art scene and sharing details about their own productions. Paintings currently on display represent the gallery’s 6th Annual Members’ Exhibition. Eight of the artists exhibiting in this show were part of  the  2012 inaugural exhibition.

On Saturday, May 13 Jenny Lai Olsen was on duty at the front table. She studied in Boston at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts and at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design. In 2015 she won the Best in Show award at the Cambridge Art Association's 14th National Prize Show for her paintings “Big Mari” and “Little Mari."

Her oil on canvas painting at Gallery 263, “Hot Seat 2016," shows a brightly colored tricycle. The piece is part of her "New Trike" series. The painting evolved as she worked on it.  

"I started it for fun, and it took on a life of its own. Some people claim that every painting is a self-portrait, so maybe it is 'me' in disguise," she said.

On Sunday Leo Muellner was at the front table. Muellner studied art at NYU back in the ‘90s, he said, and he is currently an arts administrator in the Visual and Performing Arts Department at Cambridge Public Schools. His paintings are created at his Miller Street studio in Somerville.

The three works that represent Muellner in the show were painted in 2016. They depict three Maine landscapes: Western Head, Duck Harbor, and Deep Cove. The first two are oil pastels on paper. “Deep Cove,” was done with marker, pencil, charcoal, and oil pastel on paper. These pieces differ markedly from what he is working on now.

“I’m interested in political and historical subjects,” he said. “Right now I’m focused on American leftist martyrs like Joe Hill.”