In September, a series of free art, music and food events in Dorchester will bring the arts experience out of galleries and into neighborhood establishments.
Jodie Baehre, an urban landscape artist and resident of Dorchester, had curated an exhibition like this before. “Once Upon a Parking Lot” was a month-long exhibit at a gallery in the Envoy Hotel in the Seaport neighborhood, but the team involved decided that to liven up the next show they would include events like yoga , artist conferences and concerts.
Baehre said that through these events they were “just trying to make it more comfortable and accessible to people – I think sometimes art can be uncomfortable, when it’s in a gallery. So it was a big hit And the city was really excited about it.
Baehre is now expanding on the idea of art accessibility with “Once Upon a Time Parking II,” which is sponsored in part by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture and Somos Vida Hospitality.
The name of the show is a nod to the idea that when a place becomes gentrified, often the first thing to do is free parking. While big business moving into communities can help economic development, people are priced and forced to move. “Once Upon a Time Parking II” is meant to bring people together and celebrate art in the very spaces where community is made.
The opening reception will be hosted by Ashmont Grill on September 12 at 6 p.m., with art from Dorchester residents, including Baehre and Matthew Dickey, on display.
Later in the month there will be several live music events from bands like the Merz Trio and Cliodhna Field & Friends.
On September 22, the main event will feature music, food trucks and local artists selling their work.
Baehre is excited to bring art to spaces in her community where she and her neighbors already call home. Art forms like contemporary art or classical music, she says, can seem exclusive or intimidating to approach.
“I think it’s kind of like combining things that are comfortable for people,” Baehre said. She referred to one of the artists, Zakiyyah, who is both a classically trained opera singer and a hip-hop, R&B and jazz musician. She hopes that when people see art that might not feel relevant to them in a different context, “they might walk away and be like, ‘Man, I kinda like opera now.'”
She added: “I felt like people were coming all over the place [“There Once Was Parking I”] and hopefully the same for this Dorchester series,” she said. “But I’m also so much more excited about it just because it’s my home.”
For more information and to book free tickets, visit thereoncewasparking.com.