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Northshore Magazine

Arts On The Move

Salem Arts Association Has a New Home.

by Dinah Cardin (April 2020)

When describing his playful multimedia art pieces, artist Paul Nathan says, “There’s a certain...happiness." A dynamic collage features a parade more suited for New Orleans passing in front of the Salem Custom House. “They are light and joyous, but not simple,” says Nathan. This could be a good description for Salem itself at times.

A story full of serendipity has been unfolding on Derby Street in Salem. It started when Nathan retired from his work as a lawyer a couple years ago and turned his law office (an 18th-century yellow clapboard building near the water) into the Paul Nathan Gallery and Museum, where he could sell his original artworks and greeting cards stamped with his work. But he wasn’t seeing enough foot traffic. Then one day, when Salem Arts Association president Jim Bostick wandered in. a friendly conversation sparked a historic moment for the arts in Salem. Fast-forward to April of this year and the SAA has a new 2,600-square-foot home across the street from the Salem Maritime National Historic Site and near landmarks like the House of the Seven Gables and Mercy Tavern.

In contrast with the Rockport Art Association, which began in 1921, Salem’s is the youngest on the North Shore, formed in 2007 by a group on Artists’ Row. The Salem Film Fest and Salem Jazz and Soul Festival were starting up at the same time. The SAA now has a membership of more than 300, representing artists living all over the North Shore.

The organization has been housed in several locations, the most recent being a former Universalist church on Bridge Street. “Our openings were incredibly well attended. It was a really good feeling. But after the opening, nothing” says the organization’s vice president and exhibition curator. Heather Stewart, who lives in Lynn and focuses on Realist paintings.

Stewart is thrilled to have a more permanent home with 11 galleries, space for classes and workshops, and even an artist-in- residence program.

“I consider this a story of growth,” says Bostick, who works as a photographer and designer. One common goal is to bring back the community “clubhouse" feel that existed on Artists’ Row, when musicians would just turn up on a Friday, says Bostick, the new location includes a patio filled with potential on Kosciusko Street. Sunlit galleries are named after a few of the 50 wharves where goods were offloaded from Salem ships traveling all over the world, A first-floor gallery is named in memory of active Salem artist Ellen Hardy, considered the driving force behind the association. Bostick credits Hardy with saying “The word arts has an s for a reason." Keeping this in mind, the association is looking into expanding their offerings, even turning their basement into a black box theatre. “Ellen is smiling down on us.” says Bostick of his friend, who died in 2017. “None of this would have happened without her.”

The SAA has gained traction with a busy calendar of events, like their annual show inspired by a chosen exhibition at PEM. In Oc­tober, there is a fitting Dark Arts exhibit And in the spring is the playful Salon des Refuses, a tradition that started last year, featuring works turned down by the Salem Arts Festival. Now, when an artist’s work is rejected, the city hands them a flyer for the Salem Arts show, says Bos­tick, adding that this opportunity is a tradition going back to the French Academy.

On April 3, the public can attend the first member showcase in the new location. “I feel really strongly about letting people show their work," says Stewart, who has acted as juror, curator, and critic for exhibitions at prominent galleries in the region.

Bostick is coming to the end of his three- year term as president and is happy to hand off the SAA stronger than he found it. Some of that is due to hard work and some to the magic of Salem. In the meantime, the building also houses a small gallery just for Paul Nathan's work. “I think it s a win-win all around," says Nathan. "I see this as an adventure. The more people you have, the more energy."

News Links

May 2023 Vibrant Art Scene Blooms in Salem - Northshore Magazine

September 2021 - Destination Salem Podcast - Episode 13: Salem Arts Association - Northshore Radio 104.9

March 2021 - Salem Arts Association Welcomes New Director and Artist in Residence - Creative Northshore

September 2020 - Salem Arts Announces Two New Exhibits - Northshore Magazine

July 2020 - Salem Arts Grand Opening Member Showcase Salem Access Television (SATV)

May 2020 - Salem Arts Association Launches Virtual ExhibitNorthshore Magazine

May 2020 - Gallery, Never Opened Due to COVID, Launches Online - Salem News

April 2020 - Arts On The Move - Salem Arts Association Has a New Home - Northshore Magazine (download PDF)

February 2020 - Salem Arts Association Moves to Derby Street Neighborhood - Salem Gazette

November 2019 - Autumn Member Showcase - Salem Access Television (SATV)

October 2019 - Dark Arts Exhibit - Salem Access TV (SATV)

September 2019 - Picturing America and Dark Arts Exhibitions - Salem Access Television (SATV)

August 6 2019: Dan Breslin Solo Show - Salem Gazette

June 2019 - Salon Des Refuses Salem Access Television (SATV)

May 2019 - Roots Exhibit at Salem Old Town HallSalem Access Television (SATV)

April 2019 - Member Showcase Exhibition at Salem Old Town HallSalem Access Television (SATV)

March 2019 -  Young at Art, Ellen Hardy, Paula Beaulieu, and Scholarship Fundraiser ExhibitSalem Access Television (SATV)

December 2018 - Fall Member Showcase 2018 - Salem Access Television (SATV)

October, 2018 - Two Exhibits: Untold Stories and Dark Arts 10-5-18 - Salem Access Television (SATV)

August, 2018 - Land & Sea, Raymond Gilbert Solo Exhibit - Salem Access Television (SATV)

July, 2018 - Go Away Exhibit - Salem Access Television (SATV)

March 2018 - Inspiring The Arts - Salem Magazine (Download PDF)

January, 2018 - Salem Cultural Council 2018 Grant Recipients - Salem Cultural Council

December 28, 2017 - Reflecting on 2017 Events in Salem - Salem Gazette

November 2017 - Salem Arts Association Member Showcase - Salem Access Television (SATV)

July 17, 2017 - Salem Arts Association: ReVision Opening Reception - Salem Access Television (SATV)

May 5, 2017 - ReVISION Exhibit Opening Reception - Salem Access Television (SATV)

March 9, 2017 - Salem Arts cuts ribbon on new digs - Wicked Local Salem

March 5, 2017 - Grand Opening Festivities on Salem Access Television - Salem Access Television (SATV)

February 22, 2017 - Salem Arts Announces New Move - Salem Gazette 

February 18, 2017 - "The Bridge at 211" Welcomes Salem Arts Association - Creative Salem

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  • Tuesday, July 14, 2015 6:38 PM | Anonymous

    The former Bernard’s Jewelers in the Pedestrian Mall at 179 Essex St., Salem, Mass. is slated to be the new home for the Salem Arts Association (SAA) jointly with the Salem Collective of Artists and Musicians (SCAM). This pivotal space for the arts community is being made available by the Peabody Essex Museum which owns the Bernard’s property. This new venue will now be called Salem Arts Center with occupancy of the lease slated for July 1.

    SAA President, Ellen Hardy has said that “For over 20 years, I have waited for an opportunity to have an art center and SAA is grateful to the PEM for this chance to share our talents and engage the public.” Likewise, Laura Potter of SCAM added, “I share Ellen’s excitement about this generous opportunity the PEM is giving the local art community and look forward to working with SAA to create an art center for locals and visitors alike. I can’t wait to show what we can accomplish together.”

    A soft opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, July 23rd from 4-8 p.m. A grand opening reception is scheduled for Thursday, September 10th from 4-8 pm. For more information, including art space and scheduling, contact SAA President, Ellen Hardy at <> or 508-783-6591 and through or Laura Potter at <> or through

  • Thursday, July 09, 2015 11:42 AM | Anonymous

    Recently Massachusetts lawmakers passed the FY2016 state budget, which includes a $14.16 million investment in the state’s arts, cultural, and creative community. This is an 18% increase in funding over last year's $12 million Massachusetts Cultural Council (MCC) budget.

    Your advocacy has shown that arts and culture help build vibrant and connected communities across the Commonwealth. Over the past three years, the Commonwealth’s investment in the creative community has increased by 49% from $9.5 million to $14.16 million

    This year’s additional increase in state arts funding would not have been possible without the collective voice of the creative community:

       More than 250 arts leaders and supporters met with over 70 representatives and senators during our Arts Matter Advocacy Day in March at the Citi Wang Theatre and the MA State House.

       Arts and cultural supporters sent 5,231 emails to Gov. Baker and the State Legislature showing them that arts matter in Massachusetts.

       The creative community recruited 103 representatives and 20 senators, a total of 123 out of 200 state legislators to sign on to amendments calling for an increase to the MCC budget.

    The budget now heads to Governor Baker’s desk, where he has 10 days to sign off on the plan.

    Send a quick note to the governor voicing your support for the budget. 

    Congratulations on building momentum for the creative community.

    Keep up the good work,

    Matt Wilson, MASSCreative    

  • Friday, June 05, 2015 1:34 PM | Anonymous

    As you surely know, the Salem Art Festival kicks off tonight for a full weekend of festivities!  If you are looking for your SAA friends you can find many of us tonight at the Festival Kick-Off Reception at Old Town Hall from 6-9, and at Adriatic Bar and Restaurant from 9:00 on.  (Our Front Street reception has moved to Old Town Hall to join the Salem Arts Festival opening night festivities!)

    SAA artists are participating in the Salem Arts Walk and have exhibits at Front Street Coffee House, Adriatic Restaurant and Bar, and Lightshed Photography for the month of June. Several SAA members are also exhibiting in the juried gallery at Old Town Hall. It's going to be a beautiful weekend; come downtown and enjoy the art!

  • Wednesday, June 03, 2015 6:08 PM | Anonymous

    On Tuesday, June 16, at 6:00 the city will host a community forum to discuss the future vision of Artist Row with a goal to spur revitalization of the space. The discussion will focus on design,  uses and programming, and management and operations.  Please see the attached flyer for more information.


  • Saturday, May 30, 2015 7:50 AM | Anonymous

    SAA members, remember today is the day to submit your work for the Salem Arts Walk! 

    See the attached pdf for details and submission forms.

    Salem Arts Walk_CALL-For_PROP_2.pdf

  • Saturday, May 23, 2015 9:16 PM | Deleted user

    Paint for the Park!

    Artists Wanted for Trash Barrel Beautification Project!

    paint for the park

    Create beautiful trash barrels to maintain a beautiful park!A project of Salem Sound Coast watch’s “Talking Trash for Clean Oceans” Initiative Do you think the amount of litter in a park decreases its value?Would you avoid a park if it was “dirty”?Would you avoid a trash bin because it is filthy?“Paint for the Park”has been created by students participating in Salem Sound Coast watch’s “Talking Trash for Clean Oceans”project to address these issues at Salem Willows Park. The goal is to reduce litter, increase the use of trash barrels, prevent trash from becoming marine debris and sustain Salem Willows’ reputation as a historically fun an awesome park.Artists are invited to submit designs that will draw attention to the trash barrels.Those that are selected will be painted by the artists on one “painting day.”Designs should relate to the environment, the ocean, sustainability, recycling or anything positive.Designs that catch the eye and encourage people to properly dispose of trash are more likely to be selected.Approximately 50,000 visitors to Salem Willows will view the trash barrel search year. Artists will sign their work and will be recognized on Salem Sound Coast watch’s web site, through social media and in print media.This project is part of Salem Sound Coast watch’s Talking Trash for Clean Oceans Initiative, a NOAA funded outreach and educational project focused on preventing street trash from be coming marine debris. Talking Trash participants are Salem High students who are participating in this semester-long service learning project. Salem Sound Coast watch is a local environmental organization working for clean and safe water.

    Criteria for “Paint for the Park”

    •Artists will submit a sketch of their design. Deadline for submissions is May 29, 2015. •Supplies: All paint will be supplied. Artists are also are welcome to bring their own. Oil based (acrylic; latex) paints are strongly recommended. •Selection Process: Artists will be notified by email by June 10, 2015 if their design was selected. •Bins will be painted by the artist on a specific date/time when the paint event will be held.•Submission information must include:Name Contact Information –Address, Phone, Email Artist Biography and Resume Sketch of artwork for “Paint for the Park” design To receive more information contact:Salem Sound Coastwatch201 Washington Street, Suite 9Salem MA 01970info@salemsound.org978-741-7900.
  • Tuesday, May 12, 2015 5:41 PM | Anonymous

    SAA's first Mixed Media Mixer will be May 13th at Murphy's Pub from 6:30 - 9:30pm and every second Wednesday of the month going forward.  Come for 5 minutes or come for 3 hours, but definitely come and connect!  Everyone is welcome to join us, and Murphy's offers half priced appetizers on Wednesday, so it's a win-win!

  • Friday, April 24, 2015 5:51 PM | Anonymous

    Anne Brown Assemblages from Beaches, Woods & Fields
    Artist open house | Thursday, May 7th | 6pm to 8pm
    on view May 7th through May 31st

    Please come by Kensington-Stobart Gallery to view a collection of artwork by Marblehead native Anne Brown. We're excited about a selection of her driftwood mirrors that we will have on display in the gallery as well as her driftwood sculpture, sculpture to wear, assemblage plaques and collage assemblages.

     Meet Anne at the artist open house from 6pm to 8pm on Thursday, May 7th. If you can't make it to the open house please come by the gallery at any time between then and  May 31st. 

    Anne collected everything imaginable from the beach, woods and fields as a child in Marblehead. Her childhood attraction to the natural world and found objects resurfaced as an adult and has led her to creating beautiful pieces of art from what is at hand.

    She is a member of Salem Arts Association and The Copley Society, and her work has been exhibited nationally and been illustrated in numerous publications. For more about Anne and the exhibit click here.

  • Friday, April 24, 2015 2:43 PM | Anonymous

    Craft Night for the Community Art Installation: 


    at the 

    Ugly Mug Diner 122 Washington Street 

    Monday, April 27th, 6:00 - 10:00 PM

    Join in this community craft night where you’ll help make creatures, flowers, grass and any flora or fauna you can imagine. The finished pieces will be a part of the community fiber art installation, “Front Yard Street Art” at the Salem Arts Festival, June 5th-7th. The installation will be a patchwork of handmade outdoor spaces (yards) that will line Front Street during the Arts Festival. Materials will be provided, but feel free to bring your own fabric, yarn, thread, tools, up-cyclable goods too.

    If you’re not crafty but want to contribute, email

    Open to all ages and skill levels

  • Thursday, April 16, 2015 4:30 PM | Anonymous

    Montserrat College of Art would like to welcome the public to an artist lecture by internationally renowned Kenyan-born, New York-based artist and activist Wangechi Mutu on Thursday, May 14 at 6 p.m. at The Cabot Theatre, 286 Cabot Street, Beverly. Doors open at 5:30 p.m. Mutu has been called the most important African artist today. She is also the keynote commencement speaker and honorary doctoral recipient at Montserrat’s graduation ceremonies the following day. The lecture is free but registration is requested by contacting

    “We are extremely honored to have an artist of Ms. Mutu’s caliber speaking to our community,” said Stephen D. Immerman, president of Montserrat College of Art. “Her successful career both in the US and abroad will be inspirational to our community. We are excited to welcome her to the campus and to the North Shore.” Mutu joins a long list of illustrious commencement speakers at Montserrat including Bryan Konietzko, Gregory Crewdson, Amy Sillman, Jenny Holzer, Janine Antoni and James Rosenquist, to name a few. 

    Mutu is the recipient of the United States Artist Grant (2014), the Brooklyn Museum’s Artist of the Year Award (2013), and was honored as Deutsche Bank’s first Artist of the Year (2010). She received an MFA from Yale and BFA from Cooper Union.She will be just returning to the US from her appearance at the Venice Biennale. See Mutu’s work at

    For further information, contact Jo Broderick at or 978.867.9613.

    Full press release document and photo by Kathryn Parker Almanas.

    Montserrat Hosts Wangechi Mutu Public Artist Talk.docx

    Elizabeth GianinoMedia Relations Coordinator23 Essex St, Beverly, MA978.921.4242 x 1121

Salem Arts Association
159 Derby Street 
Salem, MA 01970  
Phone: 978-745-4850 

Weekends 12-6pm

Closed: Christmas, Thanksgiving
and New Years Day 
Parking: on street when available


© 2007 - 2024,  Salem Arts Association is a 501(c)(3 )non-profit organization

159 Derby Street, Salem MA 01970