Public Trust Panel and Book Launch

 

On March 6, 2017 at District Hall in Boston's Seaport, with artist Paul Ramirez Jonas and the artist ambassadors, participants, and volunteers of Public Trust, we reflected on the 956 promises spoken, drawn in a contract, displayed on a billboard and now collected in print as the Public Trust book.

Audiences viewed the moving Public Trust documentary from RAVA Films. Paul Ramirez Jonas and panel of participants and artist ambassadors including Jimena Bermejo Black, Furen Dai, Maria Finkelmeier, Silvi Naci, Chanel Thervil, and Graham Yeager spoke with moderator Dan Byers, Mannion Family Senior Curator at the ICA, about their experiences making and facilitating promises during the 21-day run of Public Trust.

Watching Public Trust, the documentary.

Watching Public Trust, the documentary.

Together, we looked critically at the promises made and their journey from hearts, to drawings, to a billboard and, now, to print. Among the evening’s highlights were surprises like that of participant Marcia, when she learned that the artist ambassadors facilitating each promise were scripted.

“You were very real. And that allowed me to be real.”
— Marcia


 
Graham, Marcia’s promise-taker, captured the magic of that first encounter at the table, 

 

“The project materializes when someone chooses to sit. That’s the beautiful part.”
— Graham
L-R: Silvi Naci, Chanel Thervil, Jimena Bermejo Black, Dan Byers, Paul Ramirez Jonas. Photo: Lidia Russell

L-R: Silvi Naci, Chanel Thervil, Jimena Bermejo Black, Dan Byers, Paul Ramirez Jonas. Photo: Lidia Russell

For Martina, a volunteer and participant, the project was

“A call to be bigger than oneself.”

ORDER YOUR COPY TODAY

Public Trust is published by APC in collaboration with Now + There with support from the Elizabeth Graham Firestone Foundation and distributed by D.A.P. Visit the Now + There store to purchase a copy.


L-R: Graham Yeager, Marcia Hulley, Martina Tanga, Silvi Naci, Chanel Thervil, Jimena Bermejo Black

L-R: Graham Yeager, Marcia Hulley, Martina Tanga, Silvi Naci, Chanel Thervil, Jimena Bermejo Black

A gift of trust. Photo: Lidia Russell

A gift of trust. Photo: Lidia Russell

Joe, who promised to forgive his flaws, met Furen, who took his promise in Kendall. Joe told us, "I don't know anything about art, but I enjoyed myself."

The exhibition of promises, curated by Paul Ramirez Jonas

The exhibition of promises, curated by Paul Ramirez Jonas

 

Public Trust by Paul Ramirez Jonas

PUBLIC TRUST

At 7 p.m. on Saturday, September 17, 2016 the final promise of Public Trust’s journey through Greater Boston was slowly written, one letter at a time, on the marque in Copley Square. That promise, “I promise to show up,” echoed the first one posted in Dudley 21 days earlier, “I will be a better citizen.”

Public Trust, the free interactive artwork by Brooklyn artist Paul Ramirez Jonas produced by Now + There, asked us to consider the meaning of a promise during a time when words matter. From August 27–September 17, Ramirez Jonas and a team of artist ambassadors went to three Greater Boston locations – Dudley, Kendall and Copley – and collected promises from 956 Bostonians.

DSC_4914 2 (1).jpg

Regardless of age, status, or race, Greater Boston residents and tourists alike added to the Public Trust marquee of constantly changing pledges – yours, mine, scientists’, and those of our presidential candidates. Together, we created a piece of art about promises, those contracts we make with with each other and with ourselves, and the potent speech acts that keep a society together. 

Public Trust was generously supported by the Lewis Family Foundation, which believes that our communities grow stronger through artistic expression, and the generous contributions of individuals like you. 

Public Trust, the book, is published by APC in collaboration with Now + There with support from the Elizabeth Graham Firestone Foundation and distributed by D.A.P.

Public Trust mini-documentary by RAVA Films


THE ARTIST

Paul Ramirez Jonas is no stranger to Boston. Born in California and raised in Honduras, Ramirez Jonas earned his BA from Brown University, his MFA in painting from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1989. He spent his first summer in the United States in Boston and later taught at the School of Museum of Arts/Tufts.

To engage completely with his projects, Ramirez Jonas often asks us, the participants, to contribute something: spare change, a wish…or even our own version of history. This reciprocity is a manifestation of trust and a social contract through which the viewer and artist create meaning.

His works have included large-scale monuments made of cork that allow impromptu messages to be pinned and creating new bodies of text. They’ve also included participatory pieces such as Cambridge’s Taylor Square, where he mailed 5,000 keys to the park to residents; and allowed them to shape the park’s future. This Boston based piece successfully led to Key to the City, a project presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. Public Trust continues to build on his exploration of access, trust, and belonging. 

Paul Ramirez Jonas' selected solo exhibitions include Pinacoteca do Estado, Sao Paulo, Brazil; The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, Connecticut; The Jack S. Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas; and a survey at Ikon Gallery (UK) and Cornerhouse (UK). He has been included in group exhibitions at P.S.1 (NYC); the Brooklyn Museum; The Whitechapel (UK); Irish Museum of Modern Art (Ireland); The New Museum (NYC); and Kunsthaus Zurich (Switzerland). He participated in the 1st Johannesburg Biennale; the 1st Seoul Biennial; the 6th Shanghai Biennial; the 28th Sao Paulo Biennial; the 53rd Venice Biennial; and the 7th Bienal do Mercosul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. In 2010 his Key to the City project was presented by Creative Time in cooperation with the City of New York. The Contemporary Art Museum Houston is organizing a 25 year survey of his work to be presented in 2017. He is currently an Associate Professor at Hunter College, and The City University of New York (CUNY).

Explore Ramirez Jonas' work further by watching his October 2016 artist talk with Now + There and MassART.


THE SUPPORTERS

In 2015, the Lewis Family Foundation expanded its philanthropy into Boston's public art arena through the anonymous support of Now + There. Their support helped us establish firm roots and helped fund our first collaboration, "Faces of Dudley." 

Now, we are thrilled to announce that the Lewis Family Foundation is provided full funding for Paul Ramirez Jonas’ Public Trust. With their generous support, we are able to bring this timely project about promises to three Greater Boston locations and provide the opportunity to use art to give voice.

The Lewis Family Foundation seeks to empower young people, develop courageous citizens and leaders, level the playing field for educational and job opportunities, and create strong strategic alliances. The Lewis Family Foundation believes that our communities grow stronger through artistic expression.

Thank you to our generous supporters who contributed in the last three months to support Public Trust and more projects like it. 

Max and Beth Bardeen | Bonnie Bastien | Carly Blais | Boston Properties | William Cargill | Alberta Chu & Murray Robinson | Emily Day | Mark and Janet Edwards | Larry and Cheryl Franklin | Margaret Gilbert | Suzanne Gilbert Lee | Geoff Hargadon and Patricia La Valley | Hal and Jodi Hess| Beth Kantrowitz | Jeremey Liu | Robert Mason | Harry & Melinda Miller | Greer Muldowney | Daniel Ranalli | Jennifer Schmitt | Kathy and Gary Sharpless | Beth F. Terrana | Lisa Tung and Spencer Glendon | Natalie Williams | Anonymous (2)


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Public Trust: Copley

Copley Square, Boston, was the final site of Public Trust, September 11–17, 2016. Click each thumbnail for more pictures from that time period. Read all the Copley promises here.

Public Trust: Kendall

Kendall Center, Cambridge, was the second site of Public Trust, September 3–10, 2016. Click each thumbnail for more pictures from that time period. Read all the Kendall promises here.

Public Trust: Dudley

Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library, Roxbury, was the first site of Public Trust, from August 27–September 2, 2016. Click each thumbnail for more pictures from that time period. Read all the Dudley promises here.

Fieldworks: Season One Screening

 

On April 11, 2016, with Massachusetts College of Art and Design N+T co-hosted the Boston debut of FIELDWORKS: Season One, A Blade of Grass’ film series.

Through film we explored the impact of socially engaged artists Mel Chin, Brett Cook, Pablo Helguera, Fran Ilich, Jan Mun, SexEd: Norene Leddy & Liz Slagus, and Jody Wood.

Following the screening we discussed the medium of film to disseminate ideas, ABOG's fellowship program, and the impact of public art with Deborah Fisher, Founding Executive Director of A Blade of Grass (ABOG).

FIELDWORKS: Season One films can be viewed for free on ABOG's website. For more in-depth information on the featured artists and their community participants and collaborators, check out ABOG's forum. FIELDWORKS Season One is produced by RAVA Films and One Hundred Seconds with A Blade of Grass, a New York City based organization nurturing socially engaged art. 

I think social practice is an evolution of institutional critique.
— Deborah Fisher
It’s not about makeovers,
it’s about self-esteem.
— Jose Montanez, stylist and project participant in Jodi Wood’s Beauty in Transition
 

Paul Ramirez Jonas Artist Talk

On October 28, 2015, Now and There co-hosted a talk by Paul Ramirez Jonas with Massachusetts College of Art and Design

Over the past 25 years, Paul Ramirez Jonas has sought to challenge the definitions of art and the public and to engineer active audience participation and exchange. To engage completely with his projects, he often asks participants to contribute something: spare change, a wish, their own version of history. This reciprocity is a manifestation of trust and a social contract through which the viewer and artist create meaning. His works have included large-scale monuments with cork boards for impromptu messages and performative pieces in which he mailed keys to the nearest 5,000 residents of Cambridge’s Taylor Park to explore notions of access, trust, and belonging. Read more about Jonas on our blog, visit his website and watch his presentation.

Faces of Boston

Faces of Boston (October 8, 2016) was the second (surprise) location for the Inside Out Project's Photobooth Truck in Back Bay Station. Over the course of the day, 389 portraits were taken and over 125 were pasted the front of the station and the bus terminal. Read about the origins of the Back Bay location and its link to JR's Hancock tower mural in the Boston Courant.

Faces of Dudley

Faces of Dudley (October 7, 2015) was a community mural and portrait of a community in transition created with Inside Out Project's Photobooth Truck and The Up Truck.

259 portraits of Dudley Square (Roxbury, MA) residents, business owners, and visitors were taken in the Photobooth truck and 174 prints were pasted to the outside of the Dudley Branch of the Boston Public Library. 

During the day, participants were asked, "What can't someone know about you just by looking at your portrait?" Answers to these questions and all the portraits are featured in Faces of Dudley a full-color book donated to the Dudley Square Public Library as a permanent artwork and reminder of that day when a community came together in pride. Paperback versions of the book are available, at cost, from Blurb.

Learn more about Faces of Dudley in the Boston Globe's "The New Face of Public Art" (pdf here) and the video below.

Learning from Our Communities

Learning From Our Communities (September 10, 2015) was a simple community engagement project initiated at the Emerge festival at City Hall. We asked the public a variety of questions regarding their thoughts and opinions on what their neighborhoods need as well as the gems and resources they cherish. 

Read the blog for more answers to this and other questions.

No one knows that I'm really good at _________.

Play in Public Art

Play in Public Art (July 19, 2015) was a lively outdoors panel with co-sponsors BSA Space and the D Street ArtLab and the artists, architects, and citizens who are making public art happen in Boston. We explored the role of play in three current public art topics – spectacle, site, and architecture – in a fast-paced, round-robin discussion followed by Q&A.

Panelists included Ian Deleón (interdisciplinary artist), Chris Frost (educator and exhibiting ArtLAB artist), Kate Gilbert (D Street ArtLAB curator and Now and There director), Kelly Goff (educator and exhibiting ArtLAB artist), Mary Hale (educator and architect at Shepley Bulfinch), Robert Lobe (exhibiting ArtLAB artist), Amanda Parer (exhibiting ArtLAB artist), Alice Vogler (artist, curator for Time, Body, Space, Objects, part of the Isles Arts Initiative) and Arts Program Manager at Boston Children’s Museum. Moderated by Chris Wangro, Lawn on D Impressario and Artistic Director.

Read our wrap-up complete with panelist quotes on the blog.

Where's the Art?

Where's the Art? (May 6, 2016) brought together artists, architects, and placemakers who gave examples of their work and discussed the spectrum of practices in public art...and the gaps in between. Held during ArtWeek Boston with co-sponsors NEFA's Fund for the Arts and the Boston Center for the Arts along with other organizations who nurture artists and the artistic practice in Boston.

Presenters included artists Cedric Douglas, Megan McMillan, Liz Nofziger and architect Rob Trumbour of Artforming talking about the definitions of public art and what we can do to support more of it in our communities.

Learn more about the panel in our wrap-up summary and video.

Where's the Art images courtesy of NEFA and Jeffrey Filliault