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A storefront at the ICA explores new directions

Richard Gregg, director of retail at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, believes that the products – many limited editions – showcased at the waterfront museum’s store are an extension of the institution’s creative catalyst. Skeins of chunky wool from Western Massachusetts, for example, might serve as an extension of a fiber sculpture exhibit, or a book on an experimental rural southern college can further the educational experience, said Gregg. He spoke to Globe correspondent Cindy Atoji Keene on the variety of functions he performs, from overseeing catalog productions, coordinating product development, merchandising and displays, and managing the store staff.

“The store in cultural institutions like the ICA play a vital role in supporting programming and helping to provide important financial support. Visiting the merchandise in our 11,000-square-foot retail space is very much part of the visitor experience; our role is to make a further connection with the artists and themes upstairs. Located off the main lobby on the first floor, the store is typically a visitor’s first or last point of contact, and sometimes both, offering mementos and educational materials that reflect ICA collections. As Boston’s destination for new art and ideas, we have a wide range of visitors, from high schoolers, art students, and, of course, tourists. We can take more risks than a typical retail outlet and offer something that is a little further out on the edges of design. When New York painter Amy Sillman did her mid-career retrospective here last year, I collaborated directly with her, visiting her studio to brainstorm limited edition pieces to sell in the store. We explored ways to represent her art, from a ceramic dog bowl to a giant sculptural piece, and ultimately decided to create a series of three vases created from molds, then hand painted. it was an opportunity for Sillman to use a new medium and very exciting for me to be involved in processes like this. It’s a very interesting time in the art world as we focus on the work of emerging artists and keep the conversation going to reach ever-widening audiences.”

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