Paul Ramirez Jonas

Public Trust Panel & Book Launch, 2017

 

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, 2016 by Paul Ramirez Jonas

Considering the meaning of a promise

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)


Public Trust, 2016 (Copley)

September 11 — 17

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, 2016 (Kendall)

September 3-10

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, 2016 (Dudley)

August 27 - September 2

The 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.

Paul Ramirez Jonas Artist Talk, 2015

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.