There are buildings that are integral to the fabric of a neighborhood, ones without which that neighborhood would be a poorer place. Plenty of those buildings line the skinny, pothole-prone thoroughfare of Allen Street, housing the Old Pink, Nietzsche's, Mulligan's Brick Bar, Allen Street Hardware, Rust Belt Books.
But one in particular, Michael Mulley's walk-in closet of an art space known as the College Street Gallery, has been of special significance to the neighborhood's changing character over the past decade and a half.
Mulley's gallery, which celebrates its 15th anniversary during the First Fridays Gallery Walk tonight at 6, has hosted 180 shows by Mulley's count since it was founded in 1997. Its approach has always been proudly democratic and open-source, allowing entry-level artists to exhibit and occasionally reserving space for more established (but always offbeat) painters and photographers. Mulley's message to the arts community has been clear from the start: No MFA? No 10-page CV? No stack of reviews? Come right in.
"In any given month you could see first-timers' work hung next to more seasoned Artists," Mulley wrote of the gallery's first 15 years. "The gallery was (and still is) an open door to artists that want to exhibit." In true College Street Gallery form, the exhibition on view tonight will feature work from the gallery's rotating cooperative of established and emerging artists, including J. Tim Raymond, Candace Keegan, Steve Siegel and Julie Liberti.