Tips for visiting Boston’s SoWa neighborhood

As many of you may know, Beacon Gallery is right in Boston’s SoWa (South of Washington [Street]) Art District. We are at one end of where all the art galleries are located, and as such, owner Christine O’Donnell often ends up orienting those not familiar to the area.

We figured that this same information might be of use online – so here is a general overview of the SoWa neighborhood and some questions we often have to answer.

Where can I park? 

There are visitor spots on the street (Harrison Ave in front of Beacon Gallery), metered spots on Washington, as well as paid lots at 510 Harrison and under Route 93 on Harrison Ave. Beware of street cleaning, the 2nd and 4th Thursdays of the month, when there’s no parking 8 am until 12 pm!

Is there a T Stop nearby? 

While the “Silver Line” (Bus) goes right up Washington Street, the closest train stops are “Back Bay” (Orange and Commuter Line) and the Red Line’s “Broadway”.

Are there a lot of art galleries in the neighborhood?

Yes, yes, and yes! So many! Even though the galleries may have “Harrison Avenue” addresses, many aren’t directly on Harrison. After visiting Beacon Gallery, Ars Libri/Robert Klein Gallery, and Boston Sculptor’s Gallery (all on the same side of Harrison, heading towards downtown Boston), turn right onto Thayer Street. Check out all the art galleries visible on the left and invisible on the right (go in the doors, and wander the halls!), as well as the artists’ studios at #450!

Check out the list below of galleries, shops, restaurants, etc.!

Some, like Adelson Galleries and Kabinett Gallery don’t exist anymore, but otherwise the list is pretty up-to-date!

Images from GTI Properties SoWa Booklet

Is there anywhere to eat nearby? 

Lots of places! The full list is above, but here are some of favorites

Area Four – haven’t been there, but a pizza place, and kid-friendly. 264 East Berkeley Street.

Burro Bar – Tasty Mexican food and a good bar scene at 1357 Washington St.

Cinquecento Roman Trattoria – an upscale Italian restaurant on the other side of Beacon Gallery. 500 Harrison Ave.

Coppa Enoteca – Tiny bistro, best for couples, not particularly kid-friendly. 253 Shawmut Ave.

The Gallows – Reliable pub food

Gaslight Brasserie du Coin – French Bistro food. It’s tasty, but be forewarned it can be slow on “First Fridays” 560 Harrison Ave.

Myers & Chang – Asian Fusion, easier to sit on a weekday lunch than weekends or dinner – quite busy.

South End Pita – Tasty mediterranean, an “order at the counter” place with tables where you can eat.

Southern Proper – Fried chicken done right! Creative drink menu too. 600 Harrison Ave.

Stella – With indoor and outdoor (on the street) seating and high quality food, this Italian restaurant is a great year-round choice. 1525 Washington Street.

El Triunfo – No room to sit at this hole-in-the-wall Mexican takeout (only a counter and two bar stools) but take your food to a nearby park for a great picnic! 147 E Berkeley Street.

Are there coffee shops nearby?

SoWa’s Harrison Ave is a little light on coffee culture, but there are places to grab a cuppa not too far away.

Cuppacoffee is at 57 Traveler Street, just a few blocks beyond the art galleries. An Australian espresso bar, it’s aiming to bring the excellent coffee of Oz to the Boston area. Check it out!

In a pinch, there’s Gaslight’s Coffee Shop, tucked between the Gaslight restaurant and Boston Sports Club. It’s in the office building’s lobby and offers traditional coffee shop fare and beverages. (Follow the cobble path towards the tables and BSC then turn right). Gaslight (Coffee) Lobby of 560 Harrison Ave, Boston.

South End Buttery is at 312-314 Shawmut Ave. A coffee shop with food and baked goods, and a restaurant at night; it’s a great place to stop for bite if you want something to eat and drink.

Closest Starbucks is 627 Tremont Street

There’s also a Cafe Nero at 564 Tremont Street.

When is the best time to visit SoWa?

Depends on what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking to park easily and buy art, come any day but Sunday.

If you’re looking for a fun atmosphere with food trucks, beer, the Vintage Market and pop-up tent shopping, Sundays (May through October) is your day!

Keep an eye on the SoWa Calendar for fun activities and events throughout the year, including the Winter Market.

I’m an artist scoping out galleries… how do I get my art on your walls?

This is probably one of the most asked questions of all. And a good one, although one that’s tough to answer.

Clearly the response always depends on both the gallery and the person’s art, but here is some general advice:

Before visiting galleries, do your homework on a gallery’s website – does your art fit the style and price range you see online? If you’re coming to SoWa, select a couple of galleries where you think that your art might be a good match. Send an email, including your website and instagram (or 5 or less images of your work as attachments). (do note that a few galleries are co-ops, so either you could inquire about joining them, or there’s no point in trying to show there. These galleries include: Fountain Street Gallery, Kingston Gallery, Boston Sculptors Gallery, Galatea Gallery and Bromfield Gallery – although these places do sometimes have calls for art open to the public!)

Write an email directly to the gallery, and even better if you can name someone there to whom you can address it. A conversation can start from there, and an in-person visit, to see the space where you think your art might “fit” can sometimes make sense. It doesn’t however, do anyone any good to whip out your iPhone and start flipping through photos of your work. Gallery owners often have meetings or calls scheduled, or other clients and it doesn’t ingratiate you to dominate their time.

Remember that galleries often plan 1-3 years in advance as well, so meeting with them now is no guarantee of anything happening in the near term. Often times, even if they like your work it’ll be a question of scheduling a studio visit, looking at more work in person, talking about you and your art and then even further consideration from there. It’s not a fast process by any means.

More advice for getting work seen in general (especially if you’re getting impatient with finding a gallery)

  • Apply to open calls – use a site like to keep up with the many calls available in your state and beyond (knowing that the more you search, the more calls you’ll find!)
  • Beacon Gallery, for instance, has its Art Dash call out now, and will have more coming later in the year (its annual Juried Show)
  • Reach out to galleries in smaller cities or suburbs and start growing your resume
  • Create a concept for a show: either with just your own work, or yours plus a few other artists, and propose it to a library, city hall, small gallery, etc.
  • Leverage social media – marketing yourself is important
  • Be ready to hustle – the harder you work, the more opportunities you’ll find, or will think up for yourself – try to see them through!

Thanks for reading – hope you find this practical post to be useful on your next visit to SoWa!

Readers: What is this list missing (either on gallery advice or generally, on SoWa)? Comment and add places to visit and things you love in the neighborhood! Or, add a question!s

Aula Alayoubi in the press


Beacon Gallery’s new show, Spring Revolution, is a solo show by the artist Aula Alayoubi. Although not well known here in the United States, she’s had a fair amount of success in the Middle East.

She’s appeared in the press throughout the Middle East, in Europe and in the United States. Below are a smattering of her articles. Click to be brought to the originals, whenever it was possible.

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As described on the Al Jadeed’s Facebook page (translated from Arabic)

“This file includes “Arabic diaries” narrative texts and diaries written by their owners during their sorry or during their long stay in the homes of others. It reflects, on its diversity, the desire of its writers and its book to explore the other in its world, and read their suffering through its many passes, especially through ways that usually allow it to write timeline in places away from the homelands, with all that is rich This writing is usually a question of questions, research, meditation and amazement that surprises the writer while she is venturing into a test itself away from her first world.
This timeline came from the writers and a book that was raised from their homelands once by war and another escape from repression and lack of freedoms, or a choice of freedom of adventure in search of self in a space that is far and wider, and the book of this timeline has reached their From the hometown, they live and roam with passion, fragile and beauty, in Africa, Asia, America, and Europe, belonging to the whole world and reassuring their children, their scenes and their spiritual, aesthetic and intellectual aspirations. The authorities of a planet have always considered their homeland.

The writings came from pens belonging to: Morocco, Palestine, Iraq, Syria. In a future edition, there will be more journal literature.” (There was no link to any articles behind this initial introduction, alas)

An article in Spanish:

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Below is a link to the original set of articles Beacon Gallery found on Aula (click the image to be brought to the PDF archive)

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Here is a radio interview with Aula Al Ayoubi:

There’s also a dramatic video produced by another art gallery of hers you can watch:

and this video for her show “Heavenly Fruit” from 2016:

Some more international press on Aula Alayoubi in Arabic and Spanish (no links available)

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Come and check out this impressive artist’s work in person, now through July 28th at Beacon Gallery!

Aula Alayoubi – June & July at Beacon Gallery

IMG_6541We are delighted to have Syrian artist Aula Alayoubi showing at Beacon Gallery from June 7th through July 28th!

Her exceptional work made her a natural candidate for a solo show. Alayoubi requested that the show be entitled “Spring Revolution” in honor of the civil war that is currently tearing apart her home country (that grew out of the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East).

Her highly symbolic work often features ladybugs and pomegranates. Ladybugs are considered harbingers of good luck in many societies, and pomegranates are seen as a heavenly fruit with many spiritual overtones. For Alayoubi pomegranates also have a connotation back to violence and war as they lent their name to “granates” in French or “grenades” in English.

Waiting for Spring, 2019, acrylic on canvas

Woman with Dove and Pomegranate, 2017, Acrylic on Canvas

Many other paintings of Alayoubi’s feature animals – seemingly tamed and interacting with her female protagonist. Birds are a often-visited theme, with their feathers spread, close to flight, and with an item clutched in their beak.

Holding Happiness, 2019, acrylic on canvas

Spring Gift, 2019, Acrylic on Canvas

One of the most exceptional images is a pigeon feeding a leaf to a snake, with a woman sitting on its back. The snake seems to be turning into the branch on the tree on which the pigeon is perched. Overtones of Genesis, with the story of the serpent, as well as the Noah receiving an olive branch from a dove may come to mind. Yet here, the “Garden of Eden” mostly seems to reside in this woman’s head. The trees are only vaguely suggested where as the flowers and leaves on this woman head are exquisitely rendered.

Pigeon and Snake, 2019, Acrylic on Canvas

In wild story, again, the figures take center stage: we find the theme of a bird in flight again; with the main portrait of a woman with and a tamed bear. Flowers again adorn the woman, this time covering her dress. They seem to flow from her temple, decorate her dress and are even littering the ground.

Wild Story, 2018, Acrylic on Canvas

Come and see the show in person starting June 7th for even more exceptional images, and check out this blog post from Artodyssey for another perspective on Alayoubi’s work!

Ji Yeo’s “Beauty Recovery Room”

Ji Yeo is a New York-based photographer who focuses on the cost of our high beauty standards, particularly back in her home country of South Korea – seen as one of the world Meccas of plastic surgery.

You can see a slideshow of her work in Beacon Gallery’s Projection Room as part of Photographing The Female.

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And, don’t miss this WBUR interview she gave a couple of years ago! 


April is National Minority Health Month

Today Beacon Gallery wants to send you over to Resilient Sisterhood’s Blog! In the United States, April is National Minority Health Month – and RSP has written a great blog post explaining some of the challenges they are working to combat.

Read the start of the article in the image below and click on the image to be brought to the blog to finish it! Please consider donating to this great cause as well!

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Don’t forget about our upcoming event on the 27th at Beacon Gallery to learn more about RSP!

There’s also a fantastic event hosted by RSP on May 11th called “A Celebration to Remember Our Foremothers in Gynecology” where some breathtaking artwork will be unveiled. Get your tickets HERE!



Malcolm Montague Davis and Bauhaus

The New York Times just printed an article on the Bauhaus Movement and some of the great architectural triumphs of the period. We at Beacon Gallery wanted to highlight the fact that some of these were actually the work of The Architect Collaborative, of which Malcolm Montague Davis was a part. He helped to build universities in the Middle East (Baghdad, Beirut) and in Southeast Asia (Yangon), as well as spending time in Rome heading up their office.

Check out the NYT article HEREScreen Shot 2019-04-19 at 3.15.40 PM.png

What do you think? Are they missing the point in not mentioning The Architects Collaborative or did they get their reporting right in giving the credit to the Bauhaus School and its influence?

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If you enjoy Malcolm Montague Davis’s work, don’t miss his event on Thursday, April 25th at Il Decor! 10 St James Street in Boston’s Back Bay from 6 pm.

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Click here to see the Facebook invitation!