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13Forest Gallery reopens on Mass. Ave. May 21

13Forest Gallery

13Forest Gallery reopened at 167A Mass. Ave. on Saturday, May 21, from 4 to 6 p.m., after it was displaced by a fire next door last August.

Marc Gurton, the owner, wrote in a newsletter that he was "proud and excited: to present "Thinking of Summer in Winter," which continues through July 15.

Last Aug. 28, a fire broke out in the Thrive Juice Café, next to the gallery. "We were lucky to sustain little damage to our building and to the artwork on display, but repairs were slow and would take several months to complete," Gurton wrote.

Thrive owner Derek Fleming told YourArlington on May 6 that damage to the cafe was more extensive and that he expects to update the public soon about reopening this summer.

Pandemic challenges

Gurton contnued: "The pandemic had already presented many challenges to our gallery and to the larger arts community.

"When it began, like many small businesses, we were unsure of what the future would hold; however, we quickly saw the collective need for art grow through difficult days of isolation and uncertainty. Thanks to our supportive community of art lovers, 13Forest persevered, and with that support bolstering us, we knew we would be able to keep the gallery going through this latest challenge. Carlos Santiago, Lovely Bouquet, acrylic, oil pastel, and color pencil on canvas
"Lovely Bouquet" by Carlos Santiago: acrylic, oil pastel and color pencil on canvas.

"Though our space would be closed for months while awaiting repairs, we wanted to continue supporting our artists and bringing art to the community.

"Just a week after the fire, we held our annual pop-up in Provincetown. When we returned, we temporarily moved to the lower level of the headquarters of Food Link, an Arlington nonprofit that graciously welcomed us for what would become six months.

"Today, more than eight months after the fire, our home on Mass. Ave. is finally ready for our return. Thank you to everyone who stuck with us and continuously encouraged us. We cannot wait to celebrate our reopening with you.

'Thinking of Summer in Winter'

"Thinking of Summer in Winter" began as a series of oil pastel drawings that Carlos Santiago made in Puerto Rico in early 2022. Santiago had returned to Caguas for the first time since 2019, his annual trips to reunite with his family put on hold during the height of the pandemic.

Santiago experienced some culture shock returning to Puerto Rico, his home made unfamiliar by his long absence. Feeling as though he had forgotten parts of his culture, Santiago had the powerful experience of rediscovering where he grew up. 

Secluded in the mountains, Santiago’s family home is a small paradise, with bountiful gardens overflowing with tropical flowers and trees bearing bananas, pineapples, and oranges. For an artist who primarily paints floral still lifes, the garden provided an endless source of inspiration that he could not find in New England.

Santiago was able to share his artmaking practice with his parents for the first time, offering them a new perspective on their natural surroundings by showing them how he arranges his still lifes. His mother became intimately involved in his practice, acting as his creative director to influence which flowers he chose, and to determine when each drawing or painting was complete.

Sharing these tender moments of creativity with his mother not only gave Santiago the opportunity to reconnect with his family, but to preserve some of the beauty of Puerto Rico to bring back with him to New England. After months of anticipation and uncertainty, "Thinking of Summer in Winter" marks the reopening of 13Forest with a joyous burst of color.

Hours: Tuesday-Saturday: noon to 6

This news announcement was published Friday, March 11, 2022, and updated May 6.

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