After two-and-a-half years of co-running Capitol Hill’s Blindfold Gallery, Laura Hamje says she’s ready to end her experiment in the business of art curation. Last month, Hamje told CHS her Boylston and E Olive Way gallery will close at the end of 2014.
Despite growing momentum at the gallery, Hamje said she wanted to devote more time to her first love of painting.
“Sales got better each year, I think if we kept going, we could’ve broke even — a few shows, we did break even,” she said. “I’m not sure we were the right type of people to sell to high end collectors, and we didn’t want to, but it seems like that’s how you sustain, to reach people with deep pockets.”
When CHS wrote about the gallery’s opening in 2012, Hamje said wanted to foster an artistic community around the 2-story gallery, while sustaining a studio space for her and painting partner Sara Long. Along with fellow Capitol Hill artist Scott Burk, the trio managed to fulfill that dream and Hamje said she’s proud of what they were able to create with little resources.
Blindfold is one of only a handful of galleries still operating on Capitol Hill – most of the remaining have found ways to diversify their offerings beyond paintings and sculpture. It’s closure will join a long list of Capitol Hill art spaces that have been shuttered — most eventually were repurposed. As the city continues to ponder a possible Capitol Hill arts district, it might be time to shift focus beyond visual arts. Galleries don’t seem to be the preferred option for deploying square footage in the increasingly coveted commercial real estate of Capitol Hill.
But Hamje said she’s already begun talking to artists interested in keeping an art space going at the location, something she said the building’s owners also support. As for advice to new curators?
“You need to have a business plan and have a budget, maybe a PR person to get the name out there and consistently,” she said.
Hamje said the closure of the Online Cafe next door and the stalled opening of Good Citizen to replace it didn’t make things easier for the gallery. CHS will update what’s happening with the space as soon as we hear back from owner Andrew Friedman.
In the meantime, Blindfold will continue to inspire Capitol Hill with a full slate of shows lined up through the end of the year.