The Boston Street Gallery picks up steam in the city’s art world and has only showcases Philadelphia based artists. Nestled in a residential corner of Fishtown area, the Boston Street Gallery, 2539 E. Boston St., may have an unassuming facade, but is a revolving home to art from some of the most creative, Philadelphia artists.
Jeff Harris, owner of the Boston Street Gallery, has been involved in the arts since the 1970s. While he had always wanted to own and run his own gallery, the cards did not fall into place for Harris until 2015
“I’ve always wanted to do it,” Jeff said. “I kind of thought about starting it at different points in my past, but now it just seemed to be more appropriate.”
While the gallery may be the only one around this neighborhood (the first exhibit was held in September 2015), the building on Boston Street has a longstanding relationship with the arts. Jeff has owned the building since 1987 where he has always used the space primarily as a studio for his own work.
“I bought [the building] in 1987 and the neighborhood was vastly different then, It’s really like night and day, both with temperament and tolerance.
Through the years, Harris has watched the neighborhood transform and its people progress. From a neighborhood closed to the arts to one that values the gallery next door, the rise of the Boston Street Gallery is closely related to the changing tides of Fishtown.
“They’re developing Frankford ave. in such a way, that it’s turning into what South Street used to be, and that’s really wild to see all the changes happening around,” Harris said.
Harris’ dream of turning his property into a gallery space has not come without its challenges. From fighting with the city over past tenant issues to encountering a then less-than-accommodating neighborhood to his African American wife, turning the space into a proper gallery seemed like a pipe dream for some time for Harris.
As times progressed and the gentrification of Fishtown began, bringing in new artists and people, the culture for a gallery to thrive began to emerge. Now, Harris is opening the gallery’s door for its fourth year and gearing up to start BYOB art classes that are run by wife/partner , Marie.
“The BYOB art classes are totally not serious. They’ll probably be more about drinking for most.
The classes are expected to begin in February, with accommodations for up to 25 people.
Aside from injecting a bit more culture into an already artistic neighborhood, Harris also aims to highlight local artists. “We’ve always had such a problem in the past and have almost taken second fiddle to New York in some ways, and I don’t think that really is the case anymore, I think there’s a lot of good work and a lot of work in many different avenues, not just a classic approach that Philadelphia is really well known for.
I hope that the gallery continues to grow and draws new interest in art from locals.
- BOSTON STREET GALLERY
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Fishtown is a neighborhood in Philadelphia located immediately northeast of center city.
The name "Fishtown" is derived from the area's former role as the center of the shad fishing industry on the Delaware river. The name comes from the fact that a number of 18th and early 19th centuries German and German-american families bought up the fishing rights on both sides of the Delaware River from Trenton Falls down to Cape May, N.J.