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Get Stung Along the Beehive Walls

The tenth installation of the "Sting!" art series at the Beehive will open with a Tuesday night reception.

There’s a reason why they call it “Sting!”

Ask around the South End about the and you’ll get varied responses: it’s a lounge, a bar, a jazz club, a restaurant… it’s part of that ‘arts thing’ on Tremont.

As ignorant as that last statement sounds, it might be the most accurate since the Beehive reflects the mission of the (the aforementioned ‘arts thing’). Really, it’s all of the above… and an art gallery, as well. The work rotates quarterly.

This Tuesday evening, the 10th installment in the ‘hive’s “Sting!” series, “Altered 'Scapes” will make its official debut with a reception from 6:30 to 8:30, hosted by venue co-owner Jennifer Epstein and guest curator Erica Gervais of Gervais & Co.

“It’s not about décor,” Epstein said, making an important distinction during our recent phone chat. “This isn’t about matching the fabric on the banquettes, per say. Certainly we’re not looking to disturb people, either. But in general we want to hang artwork at the Beehive that engages and challenges people in unexpected ways.”

What Epstein describes is very much a natural extension of the original vision for the space when she and husband Bill Keravuori partnered with restaurateur, Jack Bardy, to launch it a few years back: a place where arts and the community can interact.

More specifically, it’s a convenient spot within the BCA campus where patrons can enjoy food and drinks while discussing what they’ve seen at the Mills Gallery, an event at Cyclorama or a production at one of the BCA’s resident theaters. In the process of fulfilling that role it’s become a destination spot both for South End residents, Bostonians at large and out-of-town guests who’ve read the hype in any number of reputed publications. Some of that has to do with the music which, if you’re not already aware, is a sweet deal: a blend of jazz, blues and funk oftentimes featuring renowned, award-winning musicians all funded by sponsors… there’s never a cover charge.

A former Art History major and Entertainment Lawyer, Epstein is savvy in ways that many culinary business people are not, giving the Beehive a muscular leg-up on other restaurants that attempt to bring in music and hang art. Actually, as she’s quick to point out, the venue has assets for artists that even the finest galleries lack.

“We can do things here that the galleries cannot. This is a big space—the walls are huge, so we can accommodate larger pieces that might not fit elsewhere,” she said, noting that one of the pieces in the new installation swallows two 6x8 foot wall panels.

“In the best of circumstances, that piece would be hung without a space between the two parts. But that’s another point about seeing work hung here: it’s comparable to how it might look in one’s home. The walls here aren’t stark white with direct, bright light… they’re brick and dimly lit. The work can breathe ‘outside of the white box’ and the customers get to coexist with it for the duration of their stay.”

Collectively, “Sting X: Altered 'Scapes” tweaks our perceptions of what ‘landscape’ refers to in the traditional sense, including the capacity of the central figure to alter their environment. The fifteen featured artists present landscapes that encompass a wider breadth of possibilities. Eight Boston galleries loaned out pieces for this show.

As resident curator, Epstein has programmed most of the Beehive’s exhibits herself. This time around, however, she invited Gervais to help broaden the scope of both the art and the audience. She’ll continue having other guest curators down the line.

“The space is large enough where we have yet to do a solo show,” she said. ‘It leaves room for an even greater selection of both emerging and established artists. The level of traffic here is higher than at a stand-alone gallery – overall, it’s a huge opportunity.”

“Sting! X: Altered Scapes” will run for three months at The Beehive, 541 Tremont Street. Opening reception is Tuesday, February 8 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Pianist, vocalist and organ player, Marty Rowen, will be on hand to give his Hammond B3 a workout.

 The show features the work of: Randall Bachner, Chris Ballantyne, Gil Blank, Louisa Conrad, Franco Fontana, Ryan Johnson, Andrew Millner, Andrew Mowbray, Lori Nix, Matthew Rich, Casey Roberts, Christine Streuli, Alexia Stamatiou, Carolyn Swiszcz, A.D. Jacobsen & Nicolas Party.

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