Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Alan Bull’s sort-of guerrilla gallery

Finding Alan Bull in a gallery isn't all that unusual. On the walls, anyhow. The Port painter always has something going on somewhere. But finding him behind the counter, that's something else. And finding him behind the counter of his own gallery, well, that's just .... whaaaa? Yeah, that's right. Bull, perhaps best known for his emotionally charged series on old trucks, has his own gallery, something that seems to have popped up overnight. Or maybe it's some sort of guerilla installation: Here today, gone tomorrow? Yeah, sounds crazy, but, actually, it's not that far off.  The artist will be ensconced in a comfy little Inn Street storefront, at the former Stitch in Time, between the Inn Street Barbershop and the Purple Onion, through the end of the month and maybe, but not definitely, through January. And the name of the place? 48 Inn Street Gallery.  Yeah, doesn’t quite grab you by the lapels, but certainly functional.  At least you know where the place is. And the hours? Weekends approach “regular” hours, weekdays not so much. It’s all rather improvisational. The guy has to paint — and teach — after all. Can’t be standing around the store all day.

The whole thing came together pretty quickly. After packing up A Stitch in Time for its new home in Amesbury, owner Licia Britton approached Bull and asked him if he would be interested in taking over the lease — at least for a while. The were able to reach an agreement, one that filled the storefront without emptying a starving artist’s banking account, and Bull was able to get the thing off the ground in days just in time for Invitation Night. Opening weekend also included an impromptu performance by Boston-based singer-songwriter Susan Cattaneo, who will be headlining the Finch Coffeehouse on Friday.

It’s not all Bull all the time at Gallery 48. (C’mon, isn’t that better than the 48 Inn Street Gallery, isn't it? Maybe Gal:48?) The pop-up gallery is also is showcasing a couple of pieces by Amesbury sculptor Doug Bechler, who hasn't shown locally in a while, and new paintings by Susan Orfant. But you’ll find a nice survey of Bull’s recent paintings, including the now-familiar trucks, historic Port street scenes, monochromes — even some figurative work, as well as work he hasn't shown lately or at all, like the box cars series. The room is dominated by "Monument (Beacon)," a stunning, glowing coal bunker that looks like something straight outta ancient Egypt.

So, is he in it for the long haul? Nah, who wants to be hanging around in a gallery all day long? “I don't want to be a gallery owner,” he says. “I want to be painting.”

Maybe things will get back to normal next month

JUST THE FACTS: For more information, check out Bull’s web. The photo shows Port painter Alan Bull inside 48 Inn Street Gallery. In the foreground is Doug Bechler’s sculptue “Earth Pod," In the background, a couple of pieces from the artist’s box car series.

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