Mayor Menino and the Boston Art Commission recently made available online resources for a public art walk of the city of Boston. Their website, www.publicartboston.com, compiles a wealth of information on public works of art throughout the city, including an interactive map of Boston and a phone number to call for an audio guide of the walk (which is 617-321-4053). The map even has options to view works of art by neighborhood, and overall does a great job of making all the public art the city has to offer more accessible and easy to find. It is also a great resource for locating exactly what type of art you might be looking for- whether it be iconic local monuments or temporary pieces, the interactive map has all the information you need to find exactly what you want to see.
After reviewing the map, I embarked on an art walk of my own to see some of the highlights close to my current neighborhood (Kenmore Square). My stops included The Commonwealth Mall, The Public Garden, The Cool Globes exhibit at Copley Square and Boston Common, and The Boston Sculptors Convergence at the Christian Science Center. Overall, it was interesting to look at some of Bostons more iconic, historical landmarks in contrast to a few more contemporary, public-awareness inspired public art exhibitions- which really goes to show the wide variety of forms public works of art can take on.
I began my walk by taking a route through The Commonwealth Mall, a long monument park stretching the length of Comm Ave between Kenmore Square and The Boston Public Garden. Tucked away in the Back Bay neighborhood just behind Newbury Street, this beautiful monument park is easily missed. Segmented by intersecting streets every block, The Commonwealth Mall offers a new historic monument every few hundred feet. Its an interesting and engaging way to learn about historic Boston figures and organizations that are a lesser known in the citys rich history.
The Commonwealth Mall lead me right to the Boston Public Garden, famous for its swan boats and iconic statue of George Washington. As always, The Public Garden was well landscaped and maintained, amplifying the awe-inspiring effect of the monument to George Washington and highlighting the picturesque quality of this destination. A must see if you are new to the city and a great place to relax!
Next I visited Boston Common, adjacent to the Public Garden. Again, a must see for tourists and a lovely place to relax on a nice day.
Along the edge of The Common between Boylston and Park Street stations I had the pleasure of seeing the Cool Globes exhibit. Aimed at raising public awareness for green living and climate change, this exhibit features a series of giant globes decorated by artists and sponsoring organizations. While I was there, the globes attracted lots of attention and interest from the public and it was easy to see
why. Many of them were bright, fun, and engaging and some even invited the public to partake in the exhibit by actively drawing on the globes themselves. I think interesting, unexpected things like this in high traffic areas are a great and friendly way of garnering not only public interest in the arts, but also in larger issues that affect the entire community.
On my way back, I stopped at Copley Square to check out even more Cool Globes there. In addition to the globes, admiring the architecture of the surrounding buildings like The Boston Public Library, The Prudential Center, The Hancock Building, and The Trinity Church is always worth the time.
To wrap up my art walk, I stopped by The Boston Sculptors convergence at The Christian Science Center on the way home. It was worth it. The show features works of all shapes, sizes, and media integrated into the already stunning plaza at The Christian Science Center (also a must-see for tourists). The most interesting thing for me was looking for the sculptures. Some were very large and very obvious, but there were many smaller works hidden away in the architectural complexes of the intricate outdoor plaza. Below are some highlights, but they are even more interesting and impressive in person.
Overall, this walk forced me to think about what public art means. Looking at traditional historic monuments and contemporary exhibitions both through this scope helped me see more clearly that not only is public art used to celebrate culture and important milestones in history (like the commission of a monument), it also transforms communal space; posing questions.
This is thought provoking. Whether the idea at hand be fairly obvious, like sustainability with the Cool Globes, or more abstract like some of the works from the Boston Sculptors Convergence, or even if you just come across a bronze statue of some historical dude that youve never heard of, public art engages with the community by posing questions and peaking public curiosity. Why is this here? Why would someone want to make this? How was this made? The list goes on. Overall, my art walk and revelations about it make me glad the city of Boston has made its public art so accessible. Taking an art walk of your own would be a great way to get inspired. I will never have nothing to do again!