Temporary Public Art

"Patterned Behavior", a destination for Boston and a career booster

 There was a lot of dancing on the work site.

There was a lot of dancing on the work site.

A year ago Silvia López Chavez and I were dancing on the side of the Charles River as she and her team of all-female mural crew finished Patterned Behavior. Without exception, every hour that I visited her progress last summer, I would hear a “thank you” or “looks great” from bikers, joggers and passers-by who appreciated the facelift Silvia’s patterning and color were giving the dark, constricted pathway. It was an area of the city I never spent any time at, just whizzed by as a fast as possible on a bike.

Silvia, who’d I’d known for years as a talented large-format painter and graphic designer working out of Chelsea, MA, was the perfect artist to take on the challenge of transforming the side of an intrusive auto ramp that took away all but a two-lane path of the Esplanade into a vibrant expression of today’s Boston. (If you don’t know about the destructive history of the Bowker Overpass on the Emerald Necklace and Esplanade and what’s being done to mitigate it 40 years later, check out the Charlesgate Alliance)

 The main wall of the mural on the Bowker Overpass before work began. Photo by Dominic Chavez.

The main wall of the mural on the Bowker Overpass before work began. Photo by Dominic Chavez.

Silvia delivered! Patterned Behavior has become a destination on the Esplanade and we’re thrilled that it will be extended another year.

 The completed mural wall. Photo credit: Above Summit

The completed mural wall. Photo credit: Above Summit

This project encapsulates all that Now + There is doing to build a public art city. We’re curating artists like Silvia López Chavez, partnering with ambitious organizations like the Esplanade Association, and delivering vibrant public art in highly visible areas. Together, we’re building passion and demand for more public art, all of which is evident in the extension of this temporary mural.

What has been most surprising to me is the positive impact our collective work has had on Silvia’s career. Thanks in part to the visibility of Patterned Behavior, Silvia has been commissioned to create eight original murals since completing work on the Esplanade in September 2017, most recently at Northeastern University and at The Barr Foundation.

Building a public art city means investing in artists and engendering a positive cycle in which artistic risk-taking produces more art for all, and makes Boston a place where artists can thrive.

KateRuns.jpg

Kate Gilbert, N+T’s Executive Director, is proud to watch Silvia’s career soar and equally self-congratulatory when she, a novice runner, trudges along the bike path and finally makes it to Patterned Behavior.

Table Talk

Table Talk

I’d like to talk about what happened at Slideshow when the projector wasn’t rolling. About the physical slides themselves, the light table, the loupes, the experience of looking through someone else’s eyes, and the power of a public art object to spark connection and elicit a sense of shared vulnerability between strangers.

Unapologetically Colorful

Unapologetically Colorful

The mural itself is a joyful representation of Boston, illustrating our city’s most vibrant self. And, as Silvia says, “it is unapologetically colorful”. Which is one of our favorite things about it (and her). In fact, N+T director Kate Gilbert chose Silvia for this project first and foremost because of her masterful use of color, pattern, depth, and movement.

On ribbon of orange, we walk.

On ribbon of orange, we walk.

N+T Director Kate Gilbert shares her experience at Christo’s latest work, The Floating Piers, in this guest post. 

"We are all there to walk on new land, to experience a fantasy like walking on the ceiling that we’ve envisioned in our youth or during a dreamy state. With collars of orange glowing under our necks, we walk together."

Dudley Square residents tell a collective story

Dudley Square residents tell a collective story

“I have a story to tell,” read one board. “I survived breast cancer,” declared another. “I am the whomp whoomp,” stated a third, somewhat mysteriously. All were in response to questions asked while people waited to have their portrait taken during Faces of Dudley. More about the inspiration behind this project in Kate Gilbert’s essay from Faces of Dudley, now available on Blurb.

Faces of Dudley book now available

Faces of Dudley book now available

Yesterday, we brought copies of Faces of Dudley to share with our friends at the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library. Copies are now available for sale on Blurb for $7.25 so everyone can remember that day when a neighborhood came together in pride. 

Measuring impact

Measuring impact

Evaluating the impact of public art is the Achilles heel of artists and public art administrators worldwide. Instinctively we know that public art is a catalyst for economic development, that it increases the appeal and safety of one’s environment, and that it delivers unexpected surprise and wonder to our shared places.  In this blog we offer three techniques for measuring impact and ask, is it even needed?