An artistic view of grocer debate

John Ruch

Debate over Whole Foods Market’s move into Hyde Square has been the stuff of meetings, protests and political gatherings. Now it is also being viewed through an artist’s eyes in two works by local photographer and gallery owner Brent Refsland.

Refsland, who runs South Street’s Hallway Gallery, has created two photo collages that provide street-level context to Whole Foods discussion. Each work is on display in separate, JP-themed shows at the new galleries UFORGE and Aviary.

In “Whose Square?”, Refsland documents various major corporate businesses already operating in JP. The piece also includes a blank spot to let viewer think about their stance on Whole Foods.

In “Hyde Square: Waiting for Approval,” Refsland shows storefronts and houses up for sale or lease in the Hyde Square neighborhood.

In an e-mail to the Gazette, Refsland said he hopes that his pieces “make our fellow residents think about the controversy a bit deeper.”

“As the spring weather teases and summer nears, I hope JP residents can stroll the sidewalks and parks of our unique neighborhood with kinds and a sense of acceptance of this reality,” Refsland said of the Whole Foods debate. “Let’s use our time wisely. Imagine if all of this energy was used to elevate awareness of school and library closings, formulating business ideas, and/or making our neighborhood more safe. Just think about it.”

“Whose Square?” is on display at Aviary Gallery, 48 South St., as part of the “Living the Dream” exhibit of works by artists who work in JP businesses. “Hyde Square: Waiting for Approval” is showing at UFORGE at 767 Centre St. as part of the “JP to Me 2011…defined by light” show of works about JP by local artists. Both exhibits run through the end of April.

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