Meme to close in May

Meme gallery has announced that it plans to close at the end of May, after two years of exhibits and performances at 55 Norfolk St. in Cambridge. And the gallery is inviting people to a close out night of performance, sound, video and food on May 21.

“”Meme has been primarily a self-funded project sustained out-of-pocket and managed during those hours between work and sleep,” organizers Alice Vogler, Vela Phelan and Dirk Adams write. “As working artists pursuing the scheduling at Meme and our day jobs, we have had little time for much else. First as a team of six people, then as a team of three, Meme has been a challenge both in terms of time and money. We have no complaints doing it this way, but the fact is, this model for an art space is unsustainable.

They add: “Cities like Cambridge and Boston have programs designed to reach everyday citizens through public art and community art. They put money toward this effort, have meetings about it, and write guidelines for implementing these programs. What often gets in the way of these admirable efforts is a bureaucratic over-thinking of what the public wants and gets out of art and other creative enterprises. We at Meme discovered that if you run a space guided by your own vision and enthusiasm, people will find enjoyment or connection in unexpected places. It was never our focus to make art for the local community. We put on shows that we wanted to see and people responded, in particular, folks from our local neighborhood in Central Square.”

5 Responses to “Meme to close in May”

  1. drew bernat says:

    Wow! Now that this space is closing, you finally decided to write about them. Did your interest in “Yokelism” ever support this space before? or where you just not “aware of everything that goes on in the New England art scene”.

  2. Greg Cook says:

    Ouch. Of course, Meme was featured in the New England Art Awards. But unfortunately we can’t be everywhere at all times. We didn’t realize this inability might discredit all we do. Goodness gracious. We’ll just keep trying to do what we can.

  3. Ann Tracy says:

    As one of the co-founders of the now-defunct Asylum
    Gallery in Sacramento CA I understand the problems
    involved in running an arts space like Meme. Our artist-run cooperative (6 of us, with 3 of us as
    managers) only lasted three years. If I had it to do
    over again, I’d use a non-profit model in order to
    write grants to balance the programming between
    community oriented shows and the shows that
    interested us as artists.

  4. Alex Jacobson says:

    Check me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the NEAA a democratic process? Are you taking credit for them being nominated? What exactly does “featured” refer to?

  5. Greg Cook says:

    Dear Friends of Meme,

    Let me just say I’m sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t review Meme. And you can decide what credit I deserve for the gallery being part of the New England Art Awards, which I run. And I appreciate your passion for the place. Unfortunately I’m just one person and Meme arrived right as two major changes happened in my life: my son was born and the Great Recession cut my already meager income by a third. So I needed to find new additional work and find time to be a father. Thankfully I’ve found additional work, but it takes up time and energy I’d previously used to see and write about art—and to blog about art. Same for being a dad. Not to mention that I’m trying to be an artist as well. Let me just say that I understand why the folks at Meme might decide to give up the gallery to allow them more time for other things.

    Back to that cut in my income. Mainly that was due to cuts at The Boston Phoenix, which meant that there have been fewer spots in the paper for art reviews and many of these spots are designated for big exhibits at major museums. I try as much as newspaper space and my time and energy allow to cover more than one show in each review so that I can include more folks in the paper. Since the start of this year, I think I’ve written eight reviews for the Boston Phoenix covering 16 shows. (I’ve also written two articles for the Phoenix—one on Cambridge author Caleb Neelon’s new graffiti history book and one on Vermont’s Bread and Puppet Theater.) In those eight reviews, I’ve written about shows by four living local artists, or roughly one living local artist in every other review. I’ve also reviewed two shows featuring dead artists with local ties.

    I wish I could do more, and I’ve missed things, important things including Meme, but I’m doing what I can. I’m sorry this ain’t enough.