Demoulas Notes: Random Memory, Gallery Fotene

The Demoulas drama coming at all of us who are watching, either live in Merrimack Valley or via media, is triggering a million memories of our encounters with the family and its business. I’m pretty sure  it was in the mid-1980s when Fotene Demoulas invited a group of creative people in Lowell to exhibit their work in her new Gallery Fotene on Newbury Street in Boston. This was a big deal for the local artists. I had some writing on display, probably in a calligraphy piece by Susan Kapuscinski Gaylord, with whom I often collaborated. I have a recollection that the artists traveled to Boston in a bus for opening night, but that can’t be right. Somewhere in my files I have the invitation card.

I didn’t know Fotene well, who was in the same class year as I was at Dracut High School until she transferred out for junior year. We knew her as Jeanne (Jeannie) Demoulas, and she had been president of the sophomore class. She and I didn’t have many, if any, classes together, which was not unusual. There were 330 students in the class of 1972. Her leaving may have opened the way for me to be elected a class officer (This is a blog about politics, so I am throwing this in.) when the presidency opened up. At any rate, in all the turmoil surrounding the intra-family clash and with all the charges being hurled back and forth, I thought there must be room for a good memory and example of generosity toward community artists on Fotene’s part when she was starting her own creative venture. According to my quick research, she is the principal of Fotene Design, an interior design firm, still on Newbury Street in Boston, and she is a high-profile donor to the arts in Boston. She is a lead donor for a new exhibition opening at the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, “Reverb: New Art from Greece,” showcasing 11 emerging and middle-career artists whose work responds to the recent political and economic upheavals in Greece. The show will run from Sept. 9 to Oct. 18. She has also been a strong supporter of the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) in Boston.