There could be a raging nor'easter outside, but inside this legend in the Fairmont Copley Plaza, it's always 70 degrees, with the sun setting over the Indian Ocean and the whack of a distant cricket wicket audible over the veldt. Every detail here speaks civilization—from the golden elephant heads holding up the bar rail to the crisp service of the gold-vested bartenders. The generous martinis, on the other hand, whisper pure decadence. 138 St. James Ave., Boston, MA oaklongbarkitchen.com/.
Okay, so one of Carmen's chefs, Merwin Casey, hails from Ireland. But he cooks Italian better than many of his North End neighbors. Casey tweaks standard dishes just enough to make them exciting again. Witness his porcini-stuffed crespelle topped with a proper Bolognese and the perfect seared halibut splashed with salsa verde. That means delicious green sauce in English—and Irish. 33 North Square, Boston, MA carmenboston.com/.
The "it" gala for art-loving philanthropists, this biennial soiree features a timed silent auction of contemporary art, with price points starting at a mere $150 and a few coveted beauties breaking the five-digit barrier. All in all, the bash raises roughly $700,000 for the AIDS Action Committee of Massachusetts. Naturally, the objets d’art aren’t the only sculpted visions to behold at this black-tie fete, where aspiring arts-world sensations schmooze and booze their way amid the dandy and gadabout crowd. aac.org/artcetera.
There are plenty of glitzy art stores around town, chock-full of intimidating expert-only items. But, sadly, not all of us are born Picassos or Pollocks, and we need our questions answered with more than an eye roll and a sigh of ennui. That's why we shop at Artist & Craftsman Supply for everything from linseed oil to fabric paint to graphite. The space is funky yet polished, and the smart, comforting staff helps us out every time. Stop in and you might soon be well on your way to becoming art's next big thing. 580 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 2139, artistcraftsman.com.
The 17th and 21st centuries merge seamlessly in this part-museum, part-gallery that sits inside a Colonial-era landmark. Three times each season, Sparrow House holds free shows featuring American artists such as oil painter Marlee Brewster Brockmann and pastel artist Anne Heywood; available year-round are unique handicrafts—ceramic bowls, silver jewelry, polished wooden utensils—by contemporary American craftsmen. 42 Summer St., Plymouth, MA 2360, sparrowhouse.com.
Veteran art dealer Bernard Toale, formerly based in the Back Bay, relocated to Harrison Avenue back when SoWa was just a gleam in ambitious real estate agents eyes. Today he stands as one of the pioneers of the neighborhood's thriving arts scene. The works on display at his upscale gallery are so edgy you could shave with them. Two spare, bright white showrooms host a merry-go-round of psychedelic paintings, urban photography, graphic prints, abstract sculptures, and mixed media displays; featured artists range from international stars like Laura McPhee to rising Massachusetts talents such as Sandy Litchfield. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA 2118, .
Forgoing the high rents of gallery space, private dealers use their expertise to match up high-stakes buyers and sellers discreetly. Mark L. Brock is a gem; he will happily source a long-sought treasure, or get the best price on that ancestral portrait you're looking to unload. brockandco.com/index.html.
When the MFA has an Alex Katz retro-spective, this Newbury Street gallery has the clout to run its own Katz portraiture show at the same time. Bold, courageous, and experimental, Krakow has brought Boston the finest contemporary works in every medium since 1964. Mixed in with the big names (Sol LeWitt, Chuck Close, and Tara Donovan) are exciting newcomers poised to break out onto both the local and national scenes. 10 Newbury St #5, Boston, MA 2116, barbarakrakowgallery.com.
Segal's shows are eclectic and fine. He's bringing international artists to town, and he continues to show New England's best. 207 South Street, Boston, MA .
Consisting of six copies of the Congressional Record on top of six toilets, Timpson's work caused instant apoplexy in some official quarters, and we're in favor of apoplexy in official quarters. CityPlace, the State Transportation Building, last March, Boston, MA .
Nonprofit, committee-run. Socialism succeeds in the arts. 60 Highland St., Newton, MA .
What the Space lacks in Newbury Street glitz it makes up for vision. Founder Stella MacGregor says her gallery is in "the south end of the South End." We say it's on the cutting edge of Boston's experimental-art scene. 788 Columbus Ave., Boston, MA .
Since the gallery opened, 12 years ago, in Jane Shapiro's home, it has shown dramatic oil paintings, watercolors, and prints by notable black artists, among them Bryan McFarlane, Robert Freeman, Romare Bearden, and Edward McCluney. 17 Wendell St., Cambridge, MA .
This gallery is a collaborative of contemporary sculptors turning out consistently fine work in a converted old Newton church. 60 Highland St., West Newton, MA .
Toale wins this year not just for his keen eye but for his moxie. When all five gallery owners at 11 Newbury Street were forced to leave in April because of an outrageous rent hike, all but Toale went across the street to 14 Newbury Street. He boldly chose to move to the South End, adding his adventurous style to a handful of galleries that are trying to turn this area into Boston's version of SoHo. 450 Harrison Ave., Boston, MA .