Arts & Culture Event Notices

Life in the West End 1947-1953: Photography of Jules Aaron Opening at West End Museum

On April 16, Life in the West End 1947-1953: the Photography of Jules Aarons opens at the West End Museum and will run through August 3, 2013 in the Large Exhibition Area. The exhibition will feature 26 prints from photographs taken between 1947 and 1953, and is guest-curated by Arlette Kayafas, founder and director of Gallery Kayafas in Boston’s South End. The exhibit is free and open to the public. The opening reception takes place from 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. on Friday, May 10, and is free to all.

Jules Aarons is an important figure in documenting the West End of Boston before the ravages of Urban Renewal. His photography bears witness to the vibrant, close-knit old neighborhood—the people, their lives and their relationships. “If there was ever an official photographer of the Old West End it would have been Jules Aarons,” says West End Museum Curator of Exhibitions Duane Lucia.

Where city planners saw the West End as a candidate for modernization, Jules Aarons saw something else: “I knew that the dynamics of people whose social relationships involved their neighbors and the streets could be a source of creativity,” he wrote. The photographs in the exhibition capture a West End far removed from today’s—streets with remarkably few cars; political posters; adults chatting outside doorways; children showing off for the camera or so deep in conversation they don’t notice it at all. “The striking thing about these pictures is their humanity,” says exhibition guest curator Arlette Kayafas, “Aarons’ greatest asset was the compassion he felt for his subjects.”

A Bronx native, Aarons (b. 1921 – d. 2008) was born and grew up in the same urban neighborhood, which might explain his affinity for Boston communities like the Old West End and the North End. He first came to the city as a Boston University graduate student and later earned his doctorate at the University of Paris. Ultimately, he returned to the Boston area, joined the B.U. faculty and became a world-renowned expert in the study of radio-wave propagation. But from his late adolescence through his academic and scientific rise, photography—especially street photography—remained a constant passion. Aarons’ photographs of the West End and North End were taken on late afternoons and weekends with a twin lens Rolleiflex camera, and he made his own prints.

Life in the West End 1947-1953: the Photography of Jules Aarons is free and open to the public during regular Museum hours: Tuesday through Friday, 12:00 to 5:00 p.m.; Saturday, 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The Large Exhibition Area is a flexible space that hosts three exhibitions per year relating to the history and culture of the West End, and the art it inspires. For more information, visit or call 617-723-2125.

About the West End Museum:

The West End Museum is dedicated to the collection, preservation and interpretation of the history and culture of Boston’s West End neighborhood. The Museum’s permanent exhibit, The Last Tenement, highlights the immigrant history of the neighborhood through its decimation under Urban Renewal in 1959; two additional galleries feature rotating exhibits. Hours: Tuesday – Friday 12:00pm – 5:00pm; Saturday 11:00am – 4:00pm. The Museum is located near North Station at 150 Staniford Street, Suite 7. Admission is free.