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For Your Eyes, Oni

In Chiatown Gallery, Building Nineteen's Humor is 'On the Wall'

By Amy Lambiaso
ALAMBIAS@CNC.COM

For more than 30 years, Mat Brown has been the cartoonist for Building 19. But never during those three decades did Brown, think his artwork would make it into a gallery. He was wrong.

This Saturday, the lifelong Scituate resident and artist will be the star of his own show at the Oni Galleries in Boston. Brown's "goofy' cartoons, as he calls them, appear in newspapers, advertisements and displays all over the area. His cartoon advertisements for Building 19 run in the Sunday edition of the Boston Globe and are used in other capacities for the business' advertisements. But he never intended his commercial art to be displayed in a formal setting mainly because he couldn't imagine how it could fit in to a gallery setting,

"It's a real honor for a guy who does commercial art like I do to show 'his work in a place like this," he said. "It's not going to be your usual art show."

Brown said he was approached by a member of the gallery and asked to participate in an event. Lydia Eccles had noticed his work on many occasions and thought it could fit nicely into the gallery's mission.

In its four years in existence, Oni Galleries has hosted contemporary art exhibitions and events for any type of artist or performers who are not market-oriented. As a volunteer-based, grassroots organization, Oni Galleries has resisted all impacts from the financial market by not selling art and maintaining its stability from donations and project grants.

The Chinatown neighborhood gallery aims to foster local artists and maintain a creative community in the area. The group of volunteer artists that put on such events look to attract strong, independent local culture that is financially self-sufficient.
"The studio concentrates on a lot of serious art," Brown said. "But they really seem to 'get' what my stuff is all about - and not many people do."

Brown, also a member of the charter review commission for Scituate, will show more than 50 of his original pieces created since he began commercially drawing when he was 15 years old, including editorial cartoons done for the Mariner and pieces for his own personal use. He has not only been an editorial cartoonist for newspapers, Building 19 and other publications, but has taught cartooning at the South Shore Arts Association for many years as well.

"We do a lot of unusual ads," Brown said. "They're funny, messy, sloppy - we make fun of (Building 19).”

Brown's art show takes place Saturday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. at the Oni Galleries on Washington Street in Boston, near Chinatown. Suggested donations are requested to benefit the gallery, but are not required. Brown said he is hoping for hometown support at the show, but has no idea what to expect from his first gallery showing.

"I don't know what it's going to be like, but I do know it will be interesting,' he said. "A serious studio combined with my stuff should make for an interesting experience."