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For Concord show, works are linked by sense of place

Pat Shannon worked with a malleable, industrial-grade aluminum for her piece depicting a parking space.Meg Alexander

Pat Shannon depicts the textured asphalt of a parking space. Beth Galston recalls the fluid movements and flickering colors of the tropical fish she saw on a trip to the Galapagos Islands. And Meg Alexander examines the peonies growing across the street from her Concord home.

The locations may not seem to have much in common, but each plays an important role in a five-artist exhibition at the Middlesex School’s Cornelius Ayer Wood Gallery in Concord.

“Each artist has been inspired by a place,” said Galston, of Carlisle. “When we consider our relationship to a particular place in the world, we are, by extension, wondering about how we exist in the world.”


Fittingly, the name of the show, curated by Alexander, is “Place Value: Place as Inspiration.”

Shannon, an artist based in Dorchester, said her goal is “to make art that deals with the world in a direct way. That’s what gets me out of the studio and onto the street. I’m interested in presenting an image of landscape that is not so much an interpretation as a direct transcription of what exists in an urban environment.

“In this day and age, the majority of the world’s population lives in an urban environment, and I want to make landscape art that is relevant to the demographics of our time.”

For her piece on parking spaces, Shannon worked with a malleable, industrial-grade aluminum to render impressions directly on the ground.

“In the exhibit, it hangs on the wall, so that when you stand in front of it, you have almost an aerial view. But also, you can get nose to nose with it to look at the details of the street in a way you wouldn’t normally do.”

The contribution by artist Maggie Stark was inspired by a visit to Germany.


“I didn’t go to Berlin for the express purpose of thinking about the Berlin Wall,” said Stark, also of Dorchester. “But it was the twentieth anniversary of the fall of the wall, and there were a lot of commemorative events going on, and a lot of public displays about it.

“I have a terrible sense of direction, so when I go to a new city, I orient myself by doing a lot of walking,’’ she said. “In Berlin, I noticed I was walking from east to west. And it was very hard for me to imagine a time when there had been a wall dividing those two sections.”

But while riding the subway, something else about the reunified city struck Stark: Even when divided, East and West Berlin shared an infrastructure. The thought of plumbing and electricity powering both sides of Berlin even as they stood politically divided intrigued her — and inspired her work in the exhibition, an interactive piece involving hopscotch boards and lights.

Berlin also inspired the work of another artist in the show, Nancy Murphy Spicer.

Galston, meanwhile, found that after returning from a trip to the Galapagos Islands, the amazing colors of the fish and the movements of sea turtles were surfacing in the work she was creating.

Alexander found her inspiration much closer to home, when she crossed the street to take her child to a violin lesson and discovered a neighbor’s amazing gardens.

“I learned as I studied the peonies that my neighbor’s grandparents were peony farmers outside of Chicago, and many of the varieties she was growing were originally propagated by her grandparents. Then my neighbor became very sick, and the peony series felt like a meditation on the hope of her getting better, which she did.”


Sometimes, Alexander said, a curator comes up with a theme and has to search for works that fit into it, but in this case, the fit felt organic.

The five artists are friends who regularly meet to discuss and review each other’s work, and it was clear to each of them that they were all significantly influenced by the idea of place, so making an exhibition around this theme seemed like a natural choice.

“I’m hoping viewers will see how different artists can approach different media with a single idea or theme, and all deal with it in very different ways,” said Galston.

“Place Value” will be on display in the Wood Gallery at the Middlesex School, 1400 Lowell Road in Concord, through May 4. Gallery hours are Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Tuesday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

‘ANGELS’ FOR A CAUSE: The Umbrella, Concord’s recently renamed community arts and theater venue at 40 Stow St., presents Tony Kushner’s “Angels in America,” winner of both a Pulitzer Prize for drama and a Tony Award for best play, opening Friday and running through May 4.

For this special production, the Umbrella has partnered with Fenway Health, an organization in Boston known for its focus on the health of the LGBT community, which will receive $1 from every ticket and 10 percent of all Angel Sponsor donations.


Tickets are $15 to $25. For performance information and to buy tickets, call 978-381-0820 or go to

MORNING WORDS: “Wake up and Smell the Poetry,” a monthly program of literary arts and music, returns Saturday morning to the HCAM Studios at 77 Main St. in Hopkinton.

The featured guests during the videotaping session will be poet Robert Clawson, storyteller Tony Toledo, and singer-songwriter duo Betsi Mandrioli and John Ferullo.

Doors open for the free event at 10 a.m. for hot coffee and scones. The program begins at 10:30 a.m., with three successive 20-minute performances by the guest artists. Following a brief intermission, there is an open mic for contributions of poetry, story, and song. To reserve a seat or a spot at the open mic, e-mail

LAUGH OUT LOUD: After 29 years of waiting tables while pursuing his big break in show business in New York City, Brad Zimmerman will tell his hilarious and poignant story when “My Son the Waiter: A Jewish Tragedy” opens Wednesday at the Regent Theatre at 7 Medford St., Arlington.

Produced by the group behind “My Mother’s Italian, My Father’s Jewish & I’m In Therapy,” Zimmerman’s one-man show combines his training as an actor with years on the standup comedy circuit.

Continuing through May 25, “My Son’’ will be performed Wednesdays at 2 and 7 p.m.; Thursdays at 7 p.m.; Fridays at 8 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 8 p.m.; and Sundays at 2 p.m. Ticket prices are $47 on Wednesdays and Thursdays, and $57 on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.


All seats are reserved and can be purchased by calling 781-646-4849, or online at

Nancy Shohet West can be reached at nancyswest@