Interactive art gallery to open in Concord this weekend

By JAMIE L. COSTA

Monitor staff

Published: 09-29-2023 5:32 PM

A new art gallery and event space on North State Street will open near downtown Concord on Saturday featuring nature-themed displays from artists throughout the Northeast.

The inaugural exhibition at PILLAR Gallery + Projects, titled “Flora & Fauna,” incorporates work from nine artists that explores and celebrates regional foliage, as well as interpretations of eccentric and imagined organic organisms. The gallery will offer interactive displays and live music as part of its mission to create a gathering space for artists and members of the creative community in the region.

“Our first exhibit includes a range of voices across the region all channeling a similar theme of botanical forms and regional landscape. We wanted to curate something familiar in terms of the subject, but simultaneously create an otherworldly experience,” co-owner Mike Howat said. “Undercurrents of environmental concerns and a celebration of the uniqueness of individual plant and animal species permeate the work.”

Featured artists include Mary O’Malley, whose artwork riffs off traditional folk botanical studies and illustrates them in a way that is highly ornamented to the point of abstraction; Sarah Meyers Brent, who assembles found objects like discarded toys, electronic parts, fake flowers and other materials into bouquet-like arrangements; and Rachel Montroy, who creates alien-like botanical forms out of felted wood and sculpted ceramic forms often referencing plant anatomy. Other artists include Tessa Green O’Brien, Holden Willard, Bri Custer, Lauryn Welch, CierraVigue and James Mullen.

As the gallery’s presence and popularity grow, Howat and co-owner Fallon Rae hope to provide an alternative space for the broader community and move away from the typical “white box” theme of high-end galleries. Monthly, the pair will host mixers, musicians and events that collaborate with local farms and chefs and will be centered around ongoing exhibitions. 

In the future, Howat and Rae hope to expand outside of the Northeast and bring in artists from across the country and abroad. 

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The pair met while doing an exhibition together at Kimball Jenkins in 2021 and were inspired to continue their creative journey together by combining Rae’s experience with music events and mixers and Howat’s experience with fine arts. 

“Since the pandemic, things changed a bit and there are fewer events and smaller spaces that are often used as drinking spaces,” Rae said. “We want to be able to provide other events and other spaces for people at night and I’m really excited to see it all come together.”

During the week, the gallery will operate during normal business hours and will not charge an entrance fee. On the weekends, the Howat and Rae will host talks, dinners and other events with the goal of contributing to the expansion of downtown Concord in the next few years. 

“We just want to provide a space that someone can go to and enjoy artwork without feeling like they have to buy a ticket; we’re trying to provide that space for everyone,” Howat said. “We want to have a very high-end space but we don’t want it to be a cold experience. We want to have stunning exhibitions but we also want someone to feel comfortable just walking in.”

The “Flora & Fauna” exhibit, which will run from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Friday until November 17, will feature a musical performance by Jasmine Mann at 7 p.m. on Saturday at 205 North State Street. 

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