So often people think of art as something to be viewed in a museum. Or, if you live in a city like Boston whose neighborhoods host an annual roster of artists’ open studios, you might think of it as something to be viewed within a very specific art scene on a particular schedule.
If you live in the Greater Boston area, I can’t encourage you enough to visit some of the local open studios. They take place in the spring and in the fall (for complete schedules, check with the Boston Open Studios Coalition at http://www.cityofboston.gov/art/visual/openstudios.asp). These are weekend-long events. During open studios, some artists can be found at retail and community outlets, but many can be visited in their work/live spaces. Brickbottom Artist Association in Somerville is one example of a work/live community, with almost 150 artists’ condos now occupying two buildings that were abandoned until the group purchased them in the early 80s. At 450 Harrison Avenue in Boston’s South End is the SOWA Artists Guild, which not only participates in annual open studios, but opens their doors to the public the first Friday evening of every month for a chance to meet the artists in their studios and see their work.
But looking beyond the planned art event, I’d like to point out that art is everywhere. If we’re open enough to notice it, it brings visual interest, charm, personality, and humor to our daily world.
There are some store signs in my neighborhood that remind me of this fact. On Shawmut Street in the South End of Boston, there is the Franklin Cafe’s sign with its simple wire sculpture of a martini glass; the metallic pig that burns white hot in the afternoon sun heralding chef Ken Oringer’s new Coppa restaurant; and the appropriately feathery image above the front entrance to Flock, a women’s apparel shop. (By the way, you can click on any of these images to enlarge them.)
In the North End of Boston, Modern Pastry Shop on Hanover Street (modernpastry.com) boasts a sign with a 1950s-inspired aesthetic (for all I know it may have been there that long), and the cigar parlor across the street from it known as Stanza dei Siga (stanzadeisiga.com) hangs its shingle from a robust likeness of a cigar, despite that this shop encourages shoppers to take part in the “hookah experience.”
In my South End neighborhood, local artist Yuko Adachi received a public art commission in 2008 for this treatment of a…hmmm, what exactly is that thing, anyway?…well, some kind of functional but drab utility box on the corner of Tremont and Dedham Streets. She’s turned it into a cosmic rainbow of light and color that makes me not mind one bit having to sit at that busy intersection waiting for the light to turn green.
Just around the corner from there is the Betances Plaza at Villa Victoria, with its vibrant, multi-textured mosaic mural made from ceramic and concrete. The beautifully optimistic Ramon Betances mosaic wall is forty-five feet long, and was created by 300 local children. It’s spectacular any time of day, but try to catch it in mid- to late-afternoon when the sun is far enough to the west to make it glimmer.
I couldn’t end this post without asking: Has anyone besides me noticed that the new Clarendon Back Bay building on the corner of Clarendon and Stuart Streets, when viewed from the south, looks like a dollar sign? Considering it has condos for sale from $900 to $1600 per square foot, can this merely be a coincidence?
Let me know if you have any favorite public art!