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Sharing Space

808 Gallery showcases two exhibitions

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In the slide show above, Beth Kantrowitz, John Guthrie, and Isabel Riley talk about their show, Side by Side. Photos by Vernon Doucette

When Beth Kantrowitz first walked into BU’s 808 Gallery, she felt a little daunted by the size.

“It used to be a car showroom, so of course it’s huge,” she says of the former Peter Fuller Cadillac building. “I don’t think you can compare this to anything — it’s great.”

But as a curator, Kantrowitz has made exhibitions shine in every type of space, from tiny lobbies to Gallery Kayafas on Newberry Street.

“Good art looks good anywhere,” she says. “That’s kind of corny, but true. What matters is the quality of work, then the space.”

To fill the expanse, Lynne Cooney, College of Fine Arts school of visual arts exhibitions director, had a solution. Kantrowitz would take one side of the gallery for Side by Side: John Guthrie/Isabel Riley, and Cooney would use the other half for a group show, Traces and Places.

Side by Side explores the sphere of influence and exchange between Guthrie and Riley, who have shared a studio in the South End for 18 years, but have never mounted a joint show.

“It’s funny because we’re have different styles and even schedules,” says Guthrie. “I’m like the tortoise and she’s the hare. I work all year, a little bit at a time, and she works sporadically, but more intensely.”

Traces and Places, which includes artists Hannah Burr, Jennifer Kaufman, and Laurie Reid, explores how a line or mark can represent both past and future action. The works emphasize space — a natural theme for the vast 808 Gallery.

“I think the work on both sides of the gallery really interact well together in this space,” says Kantrowitz. “It’s definitely dynamic.”

Side by Side: John Guthrie/Isabel Riley and Traces and Places are on display at the 808 Gallery, 808 Commonwealth Ave., through March 26, 2010. There will be an artists talk with Guthrie and Riley at 3 p.m. on Saturday, March 13. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., Saturday and Sunday, 1 to 5 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public. For more info, call 617-353-3371.

Kimberly Cornuelle can be reached at kcornuel@bu.edu; or follow her on Twitter @kcornuel.

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