A conversation with the newest members of Gallery 263’s staff

Recently, Gallery 263 hired three new staff members to serve a variety of roles. We sat down with Catherine Graffam, our new exhibitions manager, Pamela Ross, our communications manager, and Becca Smith, our music manager, to discuss what attracted them to the gallery, what makes them tick, and their dreams for the space in the years to come.

To celebrate our tenth year, Gallery 263 is embarking on an ambitious campaign through July 2018. Your gift today will ensure that the Gallery will provide enriching programming and captivating art for years to come!

Q: How did you stumble upon Gallery 263?
Catherine Graffam: I originally discovered the gallery from a juried exhibition I participated in, back in 2016. I knew I wanted to be involved with the organization because I could feel how special it was to the people here.
Pamela Ross: I also discovered the gallery through my artistic endeavors: I first performed stand up at Gallery 263 in 2016, as part of the day-long Port Sounds Music & Comedy Festival. I was really impressed with the show itself, the beautiful space, and the strength of programming. I instinctively knew that I wanted to be involved someday.
Becca Smith: I was originally drawn to the gallery through the Foraged Banquet; I was struck by the wonderful community surrounding the gallery and the fun happenings here, and have been a big fan since! I’ve been a Cambridge resident for 12+ years and I feel lucky to be part of this unique organization and to contribute to the work here.

Q: What’s the best thing about working here?
CG: It’s gotta be working with emerging artists during our Exhibition Proposal Series shows to help achieve the visions for their exhibitions.
PR: I love watching people interact with and learn about the art in real time, especially the ones who’ve never been here before. You never know what perspective they’re bringing to their interpretation of the work and what meanings a piece might hold for them.
BS: I get to be blown away by talented musicians every week! They have helped me to realize how unusual a setup we have—they play for really attentive audiences in this lovely, ever-changing setting. And I love that by hosting shows, I get to spend extra time with the art in the space!

Q: What specific life experience brought you to love cultural organizations?
PR: Growing up, my parents were able to expose me to live music, dance, and theater early on; it was something they really cared about themselves. I was so fortunate to have those experiences, and they resonated with me deeply, even as a young kid. Maybe it goes back to seeing “Cats” on Broadway and loving the spectacle of it all.
CG: Having worked in fine art galleries since I was 18, there is a sense of pride and satisfaction that comes with bringing people together over art, and highlighting the amazing work artists do.
BS: I can also thank my parents for exposing me to the arts as I grew up—though I admit I appreciate this more in hindsight than I did at the time! During college, the breaks I took to see live music in Central Square (RIP TT’s) definitely helped keep me sane and happy.

Q: Why are community art spaces important to you?
BS: Being in and around art brings me lots of joy and inspiration and wonder and peace. Community art spaces make these experiences more widely accessible, and can help to challenge assumptions about where art lives and who makes it.
CG: As a marginalized person and as an artist, it is essential for me to surround myself with a community dedicated to uplifting the arts of everyone and for everyone.

Q: Do you have any memorable Gallery 263 stories for us?
BS: I hosted a concert during I need to see other people suffer to exist at all. A torch. A torch in their hearts., and when I spoke to one of the musicians after, he mentioned that when he first read the title of the show that night, he sort of hated it. But during his set, as he spent time with the art and performed with it around him, he “got it,” and ended up feeling very connected to it. I like that we sometimes challenge people with what we share, but we support them as they explore it.
PR: I was gallery sitting one day during that same show, which included several taxidermied animals, and some schoolchildren came in. They were transfixed by the animals, and in a few minutes went from being scared of them to giving each one a distinctive name.

Q: What makes Gallery 263 unique?
CG: What I find truly unique about Gallery 263 is how the commercial aspect of fine art takes a backseat, which expands the possibilities in hosting amazing exhibitions.
PR: Yes, absolutely the prioritization of pushing artistic boundaries and supporting artists’ development over the commercial aspect. The gallery’s respect for artists is paramount.
BS: And it’s all happening in this really fun, unpretentious space. Being a gallery, it can understandably seem a bit intimidating at first, but generally once people get in the door, they get a different feeling; it helps that we host such an eclectic variety of art and events!

Q: Why is it important that Gallery 263 is in our community?
CG: It’s the only art gallery in Cambridgeport, and one of only a few non-profit art galleries in the Boston area. Our programming is in cooperation with the neighborhood community, and we offer a warm environment for creative enrichment beyond just fine art.

Q: What would you say to a Gallery 263 donor if they were here right now?
BS: First, I’d say “thank you!” Then I’d tell them their donation really makes a difference, and we will put it to great use: Gallery 263 provides a remarkable amount of programming on an incredibly lean budget.
CG: I’d tell them their support is incredibly appreciated and goes directly to funding the programs that make Gallery 263 special and a valuable asset to our communities.

Q: What would you say to someone considering making a donation to Gallery 263?
PR: No matter the size, your gift is appreciated and goes directly towards supporting our mission: advancing the endeavors of artists and performers while fostering public engagement, enrichment, and exchange.

Gallery 263 is celebrating its 10th year with an ambitious campaign! A big thanks to all our supporters over the years and those who have made a gift already.

Please support the gallery today.