Out on the Town
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Art Along Boston’s Greenway

Janet Echelman Boston sculpture

Saturday a friend and I walked from Boston’s South End to its North End. We did this via the Rose Kennedy Greenway. The development of the Greenway followed Boston’s “Big Dig,” which brought down the elevated highway dividing the waterfront from the rest of the city. The Greenway follows the line of that former highway, and was intended to reconnect the city and provide a parklike setting.

I personally never thought this swath of greenery would ever be anything more than a glorified median strip, but I was wrong. In the last few years, this string of connected parks has become more and more interesting and appealing. The lovely landscaping has created a buffer from the traffic that runs past both sides of the space. There’s been an increase in public art projects through them. There is seating throughout, and in one area there is even a station for borrowing art books to read while relaxing in the park.

The photo above is of Janet Echelman’s recently installed artwork called As if it Were Already Here. The sculpture, made from hand-spliced rope and knotted twine, might conjure thoughts of spider webs, melting prisms, or laundry drying in the wind, depending on your mood and where you view it from. It is, however (according to the artist’s website), a nod to the six lanes of traffic that once overwhelmed the neighborhood.

Last fall I happened to see Shinique Smith’s “Seven Moon Junction” mural  in progress on the Greenway. It was great to see it again, this time completed (below). Here’s the artist’s statement about the mural, along with in-progress photos.

Shinique Smith Seven Moon Junction

The Greenway’s carousel (shown below) opened almost two years ago. I love the eccentric mix of animal and seafood critters that make up the seating on it. Lobsters, a turtle, a seal and an oarfish mingle with butterflies, rabbits, birds, a grasshopper and more.

Greenway carousel rabbits

greenway carousel fox

Sculptor Jeff Briggs designed this carousel to reflect New England’s land, sea and air animals. Drawings by Boston schoolchildren were the inspiration for many of the creatures. Jeff Briggs shows how he designed the rideable animals in this fantastic video. Watch it!

The Fence, a photographic installation that began in Brooklyn in 2012, is back in Boston for a fourth year with a new collection of thematic photos wrapping a long stretch of fence on the Greenway.

The most recent art installation on the Greenway is Wandering Sheep, featuring 10 sheep sculptures by artist Kyu Seok Oh. Made from molded hand-made paper, the sheep have been installed on platforms around Chinatown Park, the southernmost park along the Greenway. The Greenway Conservancy intends it to be the first in an annual rotating exhibit inspired by animals of the Chinese zodiac.

The Rose Kennedy Greenway is Boston’s only organically maintained public park, with a practice of not using herbicides and toxins. This ensures that run-off from the parks will not pollute Boston Harbor or harm its marine life. Here’s a boatload of info about the Greenway.

Happy July, everyone.

Paula Ogier Artworks

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