Polykhromatic: On differing art scenes

My first year at Tufts, I would take day trips to New York. I would take the 7 a.m. Greyhound bus, Uber from Port Authority to the High Line, visit the galleries in Chelsea, have a quick lunch and head back to Boston around 6 p.m. This year, I am less stressed about my workload and I don’t feel the pressure to stay on campus as much, thus my getaways are longer, though still no more than two days. When I tell people this, especially Americans, they look at me as if I’m crazy. That being said, going to New York is how I cope with staying 4500 miles away from home. Although I love Boston and think it is a great city for art, sometimes it just doesn’t cut it.

Recently, I was having a conversation with one of my friends who is majoring in art history and when she asked me about my summer plans, I told her I was thinking about interning “either here or London.” I quickly corrected myself, saying by “here” I meant New York. It made sense for both of us that one would want a career in arts in New York as opposed to Boston, and Boston’s close proximity to New York makes day trips and internships possible.

Why do I feel the need visit New York? Well a lot of things come to mind. Firstly, New York has a thriving art market, which is shamefully missing in Boston. Besides the SoWa district, there aren’t many commercial contemporary galleries around, and those galleries exhibit local artists instead of established ones. All the art fairs, auction houses or prestigious art publications are located either in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco or Miami.

That said, I still support the idea that Boston is a great art center. As Assistant Professor of Art History Jacob Stewart-Halevy told me in one of our meetings, the Boston art scene is based around academic circles. For those who wish to pursue a career in the business side of arts, this might be not ideal, but for aspiring professors and museum curators, Boston is the place to be.

Think about it. Boston has The Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (MFA), one of the most visited art museums in the world. Its collection, in any field of art history, is truly praiseworthy. For classical art, there is Isabella Stewart Gardner. For contemporary art the Institute of Contemporary Art offers plenty of exhibitions and activities to look forward to. Harvard Art Museums and the MIT List Visual Centers always feature innovative, groundbreaking shows. In addition, we have two great art schools, the Massachusetts College of Art and Design and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts at Tufts, which keep the art scene young and fresh.

When people ask me to compare the Istanbul art scene to the one in Boston, I don’t know what to say. Compared to Boston, the scene in Istanbul is very market driven. As I am getting more used to living here, I am also slowly getting accustomed to its art scene. I love learning about art as opposed to talking numbers and values, and I have come to realize that what makes a great art city is more related to experiencing art than owning it.

-Eran Sabaner, Polykhromatic


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