One day last week, I left my studio in Boston’s SoWa Art + Design District and began walking toward the Rose Kennedy Greenway with a specific goal in mind. I wanted to see the “Circle of Animals/Zodiac Heads” installation by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei.
The installation, consisting of 12 bronze sculptures each reportedly weighing 800 to more than 1,000 pounds, had been up along the Greenway since late April. I had read that it was coming down the following day, so this was my last chance to see it.
What I didn’t know as I made the 45 minute trek from my studio to the Greenway’s Rings Fountain, was that the sculptures were already being dismantled and loaded onto a truck! (The dismantling date had been incorrectly posted on social media.) Needless to say, it was a letdown to get to Rings Fountain and find this:
Those are the bases the sculptures had been mounted on, and that big blue truck had already been loaded with the artworks. Darn it.
The installation was a reinterpretation by Ai Weiwei of the 12 bronze animal heads of the traditional Chinese zodiac sculptures, created in the 18th century, that had been stolen from Yuanming Yuan, an imperial retreat in Beijing. Here’s a brief article with photos that WBUR published about the installation in the spring.
Despite missing the exhibit, the Greenway was such an enjoyable place to be. Back when it was still just a dream, I never imagined it to end up as more than a glorified median strip along Atlantic Avenue. I was quite wrong about that. It took a long time to materialize, but it’s turned out to be a pretty great space. There’s so much I could say about it, but I think the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy says it best.
There’s a lot to appreciate while walking it, including architecture, public art, and numerous parks.
Chinatown Park (shown at the top of the page, and again below) is the first Greenway park one encounters if starting out in Boston’s South End neighborhood. After passing through several blocks of Chinatown, and past the Chinatown gate, this lovely little park area with cherry trees, peonies, bamboo, a river fountain, and striking red stick sculptures appears.
Here’s more about Chinatown Park.
Dewey Square Park had a farmers’ market and a couple of food trucks open for business as I passed through it.
And there were glimpses of fall color along the way…
There were other art installations as well, including “Monkey See” (below):
…and Mehdi Ghadyanloo’s surrealist mural-in-progress “Spaces of Hope,” currently being painted on the 76′ x 70′ Greenway Wall that has previously been home to four other murals.
Here’s more about “Spaces of Hope.”
Well, I do wish I could have seen the Zodiac Heads installation. But in the interesting and lively Greenway, I was quickly distracted from disappointment.
I hope you’re all enjoying the fall season!