A little over a week ago, I knocked two places off my bucket list: Visiting Salem, MA and touring the House of the Seven Gables. I felt like I was walking on clouds the entire weekend, it was pure bliss. The entire town is a place where a little macabre soul like myself can easily fit in. Not one person gave me an odd look when I mention that I write in the Horror genre or that I have a neurotic obsession with H.P. Lovecraft. The locals just smile and say, “We are all a bit different here and that is what makes Salem home”. I now secretly dream of living in Salem one day. I cannot say enough about the amazing the trip and the insanely polite Salem locals. This was the first town that I ever visited where no one made you feel like a “tourist”.
One such place that made Salem feel like home was the first shop that my friend and I visited, The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery.
On our first day in downtown Salem, we wandered around Pickering Warf when out of the corner of my eye; I spied a Varney the Vampire print hanging on a shop wall. Like a hawk that latched its sights on a terrified little rabbit, I made a beeline right into the store and stared face-to-face with the print. It was love at first sight. The print was made to look like a Victorian advertisement publicizing the penny dreadful. I was lost in my thoughts of where I would hang this print in my house for wall space has no vacancy, that I almost did not hear the “Hello” behind me.
I had ran like a mad woman into The Scarlet Letter Press that I did not even notice Rebecca DeVries sitting behind the front desk. In a daze, I turned to her and breathlessly whispered, “This is amazing.” She laughed, thanked me, and explained that most of the art within The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery were from local artisans. The Scarlet Letter Press is a full printing company that specializes in short-run digital printing. The front portion of the press company houses a gallery full of the macabre and dreadful.
An eclectic collection of prints, paintings, jewelry, and sculptures, the gallery’s theme is of the weird and supernatural. However, what has really captured my attention, aside from the Varney print, is that the works by these local artists have an air of grace and refinement. Not one item in this gallery could even be considered ‘tacky’ or overboard on the gore factor. Every little piece of art is tastefully done and captures the pure essence of the medium. And each piece actually compliments one another, even though many different artists are involved. It is so rare to find a collection such as this, a collection that exhibits the true haunting nature of horror.
I mentioned this to Rebecca and from there we discussed the unbounded talents of her artists and the wonderment of this little town of Salem. Without asking, she provided historic sites not to miss in town as well as two places out of town, where my friend and I took up her suggestion to visit Hammond Castle. The experience of Hammond Castle was breathtaking, but that is a story for another day.
It was at this point in the discussion Rebecca’s husband came into the gallery wearing a shirt that said ‘I love Horror’, where the “love” was actually an anatomically correct picture of a heart. Needless to say, with that T-shirt, I knew that I was among like-minded people. Ones who are avid lovers of the Horror genre and are well versed in its history.
What Rebecca and her husband have built with The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery is a true homage to the horror genre. They are providing to the community a phantasmal showcase of dark art and terror.
If you are ever in Salem, make sure to visit The Scarlet Letter Press and Gallery. The experience of taking in the aura of the gallery’s art is one that will never be forgotten.