It was my second day back in Boston, and I was walking back to my dorm from Downtown Crossing. As I got to the edges, the Paramount sign looming ahead, I turned and noticed EXIT. I had grown up in a town where stores turned over frequently, so seeing something new wasn’t odd—especially in a city—but what caught my attention were the stark white walls with black and red paint in scenes of contemporary street art.
EXIT is the dream of Sam Fish, 27, an Emerson College alum who thought to fill empty storefronts with art that has nowhere to go. Fish said in an interview with Emerson College Today, “all this space but no space for artists,” referencing vacant properties around Boston.
Fish had rented the space for a temporary gallery showing from Aug 1st to Sept 30th, but this isn’t the first temporary gallery from Fish. The first EXIT gallery opened in November 2018 in Somerville. Fish dreamed of creating an art collective in Boston that is defining the future of art in the city, and he was able to do so by using the Emerson College E3 program.
The first installment of EXIT came in the form of EXIT: Upstairs in Somerville, MA. All the art on the walls, grounds, ceilings, and for sale, were created by Sam Fish with a little help from some friends. The small venue was described as being alive with, “art gallery showings, interactive studio, and micro-retail brand experience.” EXIT: Upstairs quickly became a shared space for the creative community of Boston and other creative influencers.
After Upstairs, came EXIT: Downstairs were Fish and his team occupied the basement of a tattoo parlor to curate a space and style that reflected the overall EXIT ideals.
Fish is quoted in saying that his love for skateboarding heavily influenced his art. He got into skateboarding when he was young, and the street art style typically associated with skateboard culture inspired Fish. This influence can be seen in the dramatic yet playful art Fish displays. For EXIT: Upstairs, the art was more colorful and playful. The work was simple and had a style similar to that of graffiti and other forms of street art/style. In EIT: DTX the works weren’t as colorful and stuck to simple black, white, and red. Also unlike, Upstairs, DTX used every part of the gallery for display. The dark figures painted by Fish were long and covered the walls, floor, and ceiling.
Using all three floors of the building, in a temporary gallery titled EXIT: DTX the creative community came together. When asked at EXIT: DTX, Fish said, “The mission is to create more opportunity and space for creatives to communicate, collaborate, and share in Boston” in an interview with Emerson College Today. Many people who contributed to the gallery and visited it were stunned with how well the mission had been accomplished. In fact, the gallery was originally supported to end in August but was extended into September.
The EXIT: DTX gallery has since closed with the start of October. However, Sam Fish doesn’t plan to stop here. In an interview with Boston Globe, Fish said, “Once this is done, it’s just off to the next one.” Fish believes that the “flavor of this city depends on us.”
EXIT: DTX won’t be the last that is seen of Sam Fish. Sponsored by art organizations all over the city and big companies like Red Bull, Fish doesn’t plan on slowing down. Fish plans to continue to expand and share art, citing when it was time for him to move out of Boston and into the creative scenes of Los Angeles and New York City. EXIT is bringing that scene to Boston. Fish states, “rejecting the feelings of leaving Boston as necessary to grow as an artist,” WHICH is the main inspiration behind EXIT and its growing mission.