On View in the Holzwasser Gallery: January 10-February 23, 2019
Opening Reception: Thursday, January 10, 6-8PM
Artist Talk: Tuesday, January 15, 5:30PM

(left to right) Sunset Over New Orleans (2017), oil on canvas panel, 14” x 11”; Puerta del Sol (2017), oil on canvas panel, 16”x 20”


As a child, Ellen Leader was always interested in other cultures, curious about life in other parts of the world. In between jobs in 2008, Leader took a leap and spent several months volunteering and living in China. What she describes as a life changing and fulfilling experience ultimately became an inspiration when she began to explore art more seriously as a student at the New Art Center.

Leader’s current work brings together her love of art and her fascination with learning about world cultures. “When I travel to new places,” she explains, “I always want to imagine what it would be like to live there – to speak the language, to commute to work, to look at the views, to walk in a park, to know the people. As my work has evolved, I’ve also started to look at Boston and places closer to home in the same way – through the eyes of a traveler.”

For each painting in this exhibition, Leader captures views from home and abroad. In these moments, when she felt very present and connected to a place or feeling, she paused to ask herself “What would it be like if I lived here, or if I had been born here? How would I be different, or how would my worldview be different? What would it be like if I didn’t live in Boston and were just traveling here for the first time? How would I see these scenes?”


The child of a musician father and a painter mother, Ellen Leader grew up steeped in the arts. She received her BA in Psychology from University of Connecticut and her MS in Organizational Development & Change from American University, Washington,D.C. Although her professional career lies in human resources, the arts have always been a passion, and since 2011 she has focused more seriously on her craft.She has taken numerous painting classes and workshops at the New Art Center(NAC) in Newton, and currently studies with Vincent Crotty in his course“Painting Believable Light.” Leader has exhibited her work in open studios and pop-ups in Boston, Dedham, Newton, and Brookline, in NAC’s satellite galleries,and also in NAC’s annual group exhibition Creative Process.


Sam Toabe is a curator and art historian based in Boston, Massachusetts. He is the Gallery Director at the University Hall Gallery for the Art Department, as well as the Director of Arts on the Point, at the University of Massachusetts Boston. Toabe received his M.A. in the History of Art and Architecture and Museum Studies from Boston University in 2015 and a B.F.A. from the Studio for Interrelated Media at The Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2011. His research and writing focuses on alternative curatorial practices across a variety of periods and geographies (looking specifically at artist curated exhibitions and events), revisionist art histories, and the advancement of cultural plurality in our global, visual lexicons. Between 2013 and 2016, Toabe acted as the Assistant Director and subsequent Associate Director at Samsøñ – an internationally recognized commercial art gallery in Boston’s South End. He has contributed to over 50 exhibitions, with supporting roles at institutions such as the Yuan Art Museum in Beijing, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston, and Brandeis University, among others.