Public Art in Boston
Inspired by WBUR’s recent article, The 50 Best Works of Public Art in Greater Boston, Ranked, the ArtsBoston team put together our own list of favorite works for public art to complement WBUR’s.
John Beck, Deputy Director
What: LEGO bricks used to patch crumbling brick corner in Fort Point
Where: In Fort Point on the corner of Congress St. and Farnworth St., next to a parking lot
Why I love it: It is unexpected and playful while also being familiar. It surprises and delights everyone who notices it as they pass, bringing a moment of joy to people rushing to a meeting, walking to dinner, or exploring Boston. The LEGO piece (by Artist Nate Swain) is one block from the children’s museum, across from the Boston Fire Museum and is at just the right level to be seen by children. It sparks the imagination of children seeing it for the first time (who built this? Has it always been here? Is there a whole world inside? Does someone or something live inside?!). And grownups wonder who made it, is it art? is it a prank? For kids who see it every time they pass it is a landmark, and something they anticipate as they walk from the parking lot to the museum. They wonder if it will still be there or if it has it changed at all. This winter when it was damaged (either by weather or by attack) children made up stories about what had caused the damage and how they would fix it. My son decided that there was a dinosaur living inside and he had gotten too big and needed to break out. Some good citizen took it upon themselves to fix the damage from this past winter and used colors the artist had not originally used – which I think adds to the feeling that the piece is really owned by the public.
David Costa, Ad Sales Manager
What: Swan Boats
Where: Boston Common
Why I love it: These boats remind me of an amusement park that I found magical growing up – Lincoln Park. They had similar swan rides.
Marissa Friedman, Project Coordinator & Executive Assistant
What: Duck Village Speakeasy Sign
Where: 38 Hanson Street, between Durham Street and Washington Street, Somerville
Why I love it: I stumbled across this sign while walking around Somerville. I initially wondered if it was an operating speakeasy (it is not) or just a sign. As someone who is very interested in 19th and early 20th century urban history, the idea of a relic speakeasy in my neighborhood fascinated me. Further research found that during Prohibition, this area of Somerville was called Duck Village by the locals because speakeasy patrons could easily “duck” from the authorities by hiding in and amidst the “jumble of multifamily homes.” There is something really fun about knowing your local history.
Vicky George, Membership & Marketing Coordinator
What: Raining Poetry
Where: Somewhere in Uphams Corner, Hyde Park, Roslindale Square, and Dudley Square
Why I love it: On a dreary & rainy day, when your head and eyes are cast downward and you’re wishing the sun would come out, the poems are a great way to add a bit of sunshine to your otherwise cloudy day.
Ryan Impagliazzo, Audience Development Manager
What: “Poe Returning to Boston” by Stephanie Rocknak
Where: Edgar Allan Poe Square (Corner of Boylston Street and Charles Street South)
Why I love it: Prior to ArtsBoston, I worked at a theatre company called Chamber Theatre Productions. For almost 40 years, CTP has toured nationally presenting original adaptations of classic short stories by famous authors, including Washington Irving, Mark Twain, and, of course, Edgar Allan Poe – the latter of which was so popular that his works became the focus of the repertoire. Coincidentally, CTP’s office is located in the building on the southeast corner of Boylston Street and Charles Street, aka Edgar Allan Poe Square. Needless to say, I built a special connection with Poe over my four seasons with CTP, and have come to associate the author with my career in arts management. So it was fitting that, in October 2014, on the one year anniversary of my last day working with CTP, “Poe Returning to Boston” was finally unveiled.
Chad Sirois, Digital Marketing Manager
What: Rise / Gateway to Boston by Fern Cunningham and Karen Eutemey
Where: Mattapan Square
Why I love it: The challenge of public monuments is to connect the history and heritage of a place to its contemporary identity. Rise / Gateway to Boston attempts to do this by linking the various ethic groups that have called the Mattapan neighborhood home. Karen Eutemey’s piece appeals to me its reflection of Mattapan’s current residents. It uses simplified decorative geometry to represent African sculptural motifs, reinforcing Mattapan’s current ethnographic identity as a neighborhood of African, African American, and Afro-Caribbean residents. The solar disk, which serves as a halo, recalls the artwork of Harlem Renaissance painter Aaron Douglass and is representative of a bright future, but also the circular nature of history.