Any night is a good night to go out to dinner in the South End, but if you want to explore this arts district beyond the food – browse the galleries, hobnob with the artists – it’s best to spend a Sunday in the South End of Boston (seasonal). Or come on the first Friday evening of the month year-round. This is when the neighborhood comes alive, as the resident artists show off their masterpieces at art markets, open studio events and gallery exhibits.
The hub of the artistic action is Harrison Avenue. You’ll note that Harrison is SO-uth of WA-shington Street, which explains the district’s nickname, SoWa. SoWa is crammed with art galleries, where you can contemplate paintings, photographs, sculpture and all manner of more inventive media. A good place to start is Thayer Street, as galleries occupy the ground-floor digs of these red-brick buildings. A few of our favorites include L’Attitude Gallery and Galatea Fine Art, but there are dozens.
Upstairs from the art galleries, the artists are busy creating. SoWa Artists’ Guild occupies the upper floors of the Thayer Street buildings. While the studios are private – and normally closed – many artists open their doors to the public during special events like SoWa First Fridays or the annual SoWa Art Walk. It’s a cool opportunity to see them in action.
So, what if contemporary art is not your thing? That doesn’t mean you should give this creative quarter a pass. In addition to art, the South End is the city’s best place to shop for clothing by Boston designers (Ash & Rose), hand crafted jewelry (Sailormade), rare books (Ars Libri), local food stuffs (Olives & Grace) and fantastic hats (Marie Galvin Fine Millinery). And who knows what you might find at the SoWa Vintage Market? The indoor flea market sells all kinds of trash and treasures.
From May to October, the neighborhood also hosts a popular weekend outdoor market. Now open on Saturday and Sunday (in season), the SoWa Open Market attracts creative and crafty types from all over the region, hawking handmade products. The popular event includes art market, farmers market, food trucks and beer garden, so that should keep you busy!