Road Trip: Porter Mills Past Time Present Gallery Reception

In Search of Lost Time

Porter Mill Studios Presents: “Past Time Present”

by Chris Ricci and Joey Phoenix

“Time, which changes people, does not alter the image we have of them.” Marcel Proust

The snowbanks that spanned Rantoul Street gave the roadway a rather beautiful sheen underneath the streetlights, making the bitter cold surprisingly bearable. Yet, despite the mountains of ice and the chill, people came out in droves to explore the latest show featured proudly at Porter Mill Studios. "Past Time Present" effortlessly proves that Porter Mill's ability to blend the work of a wide rage of artists into a seamless show hasn't faltered one bit since the New Year.  

There are a total of ten artists featured in "Past Time Present" who explore a variety of mediums that, on paper, would seem to contradict one-another. A quick glance across the gallery disproves this quickly and, if nothing else, shows that the rare tendencies of each artist were required to make this show truly unique. Time and memory were the strongest themes on display, and each individual take was not only an intimate invitation to the artist's perceptions on the flow of time, but also a humbling reminder on how memories are made.

Jennifer Toler's scattered and tarnished cityscapes provided a nostalgic and eerie vision into a nonexistent city that seemed somewhat familiar, while Karen Battles told a story without words with strings of antique family photos that creeped slowly to the floor. The collages of Betsy Kidder blended almost seamlessly with the patchwork of Leslie Lyman, while the rigid work of Marcia Fernald provided a perfect balance to the sleek retro sheen of Monique Luijben. There are pieces that defy explanation, and a simple summary not only would be an injustice, but would also contradict the point of the show. Why base your opinions on a show about memory from the memory of humble writers when you can explore the minds of these artists and add to the neverending theme highlighted by "Past Time Present"?  

Lights flickering on and off just beyond the window revealed a high hill of snow encapsulating the structure, the wintery scene adding a surreal touch to the setting. Gallery viewers, seemingly unperturbed by the weather outside, poured themselves tall glasses of wine before wandering about the small space. Some silently perused the various pieces at their leisure, occasionally pausing for some moments to take in the scene. These curious tokens of things past speak volumes of a long gone age, expertly securing the shadows of a life once known.

The coziness of the room also gave the art represented an enticing air, the play of light from the overhead beams drawing interested eyes closer. The contrast of old and new, like timelines layered thoughtfully over one another, impressed upon the viewers the illusion of stepping out time. Dressed in their finest, patrons would nibble on hors d'oeuvres and greet old friends before resuming their exploration of the gallery offerings.

Though memories are timeless, "Past Time Present" only runs for a short time. The gallery is open until February 28th. For more information, check out the Studios At Porter Mill online and on Facebook 


Road Trip - Punk Rock Flea Market by Joey Phoenix

Punk Rock/Hardcore Flea Market at Bridge Nine Records 

by Joey Phoenix 

Photos by Joey Phoenix Photography and Social Palates

Anarchy for sale!
T-shirts only ten dollars
Badges only 3.50
I nicked the design, never asked the band
I never listen to them either
— The Dead Kennedys

The tiny parking lot adjacent to Bridge Nine Records in Peabody, MA was filled to overflowing, and the line of cars to get into non-existent spaces was wrapped around the exterior of the building. I chose to park a ways down the street and walk back. The wind was biting and cold this January morning as I hugged my jacket close and headed towards the entrance. Signs marked in bold black letters read “Punk Rock” and showed an arrow pointing towards the building, one such sign was positioned next to a van marked “Sully’s Brand.” It was an omen for the engrossing medley that lay ahead. 

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The Second Annual Punk Rock Flea Market was in full swing. 

Entrepreneur and audiophile Chris Wrenn founded the hardcore and punk-based independent record label, Bridge Nine Records in 1995. Wrenn was just 19 at the time, a sophomore in college looking for ways to reconnect with his hometown hardcore scene. Initially a one-man operation, Bridge Nine got its start putting out 7” records for promising local bands. Among the earliest were Tenfold with “Now is Our Time” and Proclamation’s “Straight Edge Hardcore.” Yet, it wasn’t until the early 2000s, with the release of the American Nightmare EP “Give Up the Ghost,” that business began to take off in a big way, 

“American Nightmare [now Give up the Ghost] was the flagship for us.” Wrenn explains. “I lived with these guys, and then when they booked their first European Tour in 2001, I went with them. People really connected with what they were doing, which, for me, has always been the point of Bridge Nine.” 

After the American Nightmare release, and the subsequent landmark releases for Los Angeles-based Terror and Seattle-based Champion, Bridge Nine was well on its way toward becoming an internationally recognized record label. Over the past 15 years, they have grown exponentially, and have become one of the most respected hardcore labels on the planet. With almost 250 releases and more than a dozen full-time active bands on their roster, Bridge Nine has effectively made its mark on the global hardcore scene. Some of the bands currently active on the label include H20, Defeater, Polar Bear Club, Hierophant, and Expire. 

“What’s different about Bridge Nine is that we don’t run off nostalgia like a lot of the other labels.” Wrenn begins. “We’ve been fortunate to have new energy and new bands coming in alongside the older ones. If you’re going to reach the younger hardcore generation, you have to have something that they can relate to. For me, having bands on the label that have been there for years, as well as working to bring in newer bands is key to connecting with those people who really care about the music.” 

We weren’t able to do it last year, but this year, being Bridge Nine’s twentieth anniversary, we wanted it to be different. The market also gives people the chance to know that we’re here, and that we’re not going anywhere.
— Chris Wrenn - Bridge Nine Records

I followed the signs up to the third floor and stepped into the main room of the 10,000 sq. ft. space that houses Bridge Nine Records. Crowds of people were packed in everywhere, vigorously thumbing through vinyls, digging through piles of t-shirts, and chatting with vendors. 11 different labels and more than 30 vendors had staked their claim to a portion of the floor, hawking their vintage and crafted wares to an eager public. Some of the businesses who took the floor were Deathwish Inc., Six Feet Under Records, Wild Child Jewelry, Art by Brandon Gorski, Better Days Recovery Press, and Chris Wrenn’s own brand Liberated Images, among many others. 

In addition to Bridge Nine Records and Liberated Images, Chris Wrenn also owns and operates Sully’s Brand, a pro-Boston company that thrives off radical anti-Yankees sentiment. Now in its fifteenth year, Sully’s is a staple of the Boston sports scene, providing the slogans that the pro-shops won’t sell, but the people fervently agree with. It was, as would be expected, one of the most popular tables at the event. 

Wrenn first hosted the Punk Rock Flea Market in 2012 at the Liberty Tree Mall in Danvers. At the time, Sully’s Brand had taken over a 23,000 sq. ft. store front, and the team wanted a clever way to use the space. The flea market became a way to connect with local vendors and build relationships with the community. It was a place for hardcore enthusiasts to come pick up merchandise from local bands, discover new music or rediscover beloved old vinyl, and buy handcrafted products from the region’s best artists. 

This year, in addition to the Punk Rock/Hardcore Market, Bridge Nine will be hosting a new event each month, starting with a live show at Bridge Nine featuring Alcoa, the solo project of the hardcore/punk band Defeater’s Derek Archambault, on February 13th. 

“We have all this space,” Wrenn explains, “and so we thought, ‘let’s bring people in and let them promote themselves.’ We weren’t able to do it last year, but this year, being Bridge Nine’s twentieth anniversary, we wanted it to be different. The market also gives people the chance to know that we’re here, and that we’re not going anywhere.”