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111315-Lawrence-Weiner-artistLawrence Weiner discusses art in Dewey Square.

The latest Greenway mural in Dewey Square comes courtesy of MIT’s List gallery and is the work of Lawrence Weiner.  I admit to liking it even though it seems to be nothing more than bright orange letters on a blue background, with words saying, “A translation from one language to another.”

I am letting it sink in. Perhaps it’s about the translation from the artist’s idea to a work that others see. Perhaps something is lost in the translation. Perhaps it’s about how differently we understand one another, even without so-called language barriers.

Here’s what the Greenway writes, “Lawrence Weiner is considered a key figure in the Conceptual Art movement, which includes artists like Douglas Huebler, Robert Barry, Joseph Kosuth, and Sol LeWitt.

“A primary motivating factor behind Weiner’s work is the desire to make it accessible, without needing to purchase a ticket or understand a secret visual language. He contended that language reaches a broader audience, and situating language in contexts outside traditional art-viewing settings, such as art museums, furthers that reach.

“Thus, he began creating works consisting of words and sentences or sentence fragments that he displayed in public spaces, books, films, and other accessible media, as opposed to the cultural institutions that might deter broad and diverse viewership. Click here for an interview with Lawrence Weiner.” More at the Greenway site.

Malcolm Gay at the Boston Globe adds, “For Weiner, the work is less about art historical knowledge, outrage, or relating to other people. It’s about a viewer’s individual response to an object in the world — an object that’s been created by another person.

“ ‘Our job is not to throw things at people,’ he said. ‘The work doesn’t exist unless somebody decides to deal with it. You can pass it on your way work, and it’s not going to screw up your day. But if you pay attention to it, it might screw up your life.’ ”

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Let me tell you about these photos.

I first noticed the shoes of the gentleman riding the subway. Then the white suit, the pocket hankerchief, the bow tie, and the hat. I was concentrating so hard on taking a photo surreptitiously that it didn’t occur to me to check out what he was reading. Somerset Maugham? Proust? William Dean Howells?

You never know what photo ops you might see on the MBTA, and I hope to get adept at taking pictures unobtrusively.

Next we have a fanciful teapot in the window of the Lacoste Gallery.

Moving right along: dappled shade on Summer St., Boston, near South Station; and a row boat for rent in Fort Point Channel.

Today’s Dewey Square excitement was a labor rally for striking airport workers demanding a $15/hour minimum wage. Lots of speeches. I photographed a T-shirt and a Boston politician. The politician had such an energetic speaking style, the photo came out blurry, but I’ll add it if you want it.

The last three pictures are of a fake snake — perhaps intended to keep passersby from sitting on a resident’s stonewall — and grapes. The grapes were the most surprising thing that happened to me today. I must have walked past that fence twice a day for years and years, and I never noticed a grape vine growing there. Did someone drape it over the fence while I was at work?

Goes to show you don’t really have to go anywhere much to find surprises.

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The little Vine video is of the fountain that children love in the Greenway. Nearby is the old State House, looking refined in the shadow of tall, impersonal modernities.

I took a photo of the sign explaining some new sculptures. They turn out to be part of the Design Biennial in Boston.

In the Dewey Square section of the Greenway, I also love the farmers market that materializes Tuesdays and Thursdays. Note the sunflowers, flourishing in the Greenway’s demonstration garden. The narrow, decrepit building behind them always intrigues me. What would you do with it if it were yours? It’s a valuable location that no one seems to want. What about a pocket performance space?

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I wrote about New American Public Art back when I first posted a photo of the group’s giant geometric snowballs in Dewey Square.

I looked them up. Their tumblr blog says, “We are a collaborative of artists, engineers, programmers and designers with the mission of developing beautiful, interactive public art. Our method of development is always contextual. The existing physical and social aspects of a space are integral to the installation. The art form we create is more than the physicality of the work, it is the social curiosity and interaction of the audience with the piece.”

Alas, curious snowplows interacted with the interactive snow sculptures, and the snowballs are no more. But the artists seem to be fine with their work being ephemeral. Their approach supports the notion that it is good to notice things that can’t be captured permanently. It’s good just to enjoy. And interact.

I say that, but I’ve been regretting for two weeks that I couldn’t bring myself to capture in a photo several strangers facing me on the subway since one woman was looking my way. It would’ve been a great shot. In the midst of a sea of black-coated commuters, there were three astonishing reds: a woman with a bright red shawl, another with a red-red coat, and a young man with brilliant new red boots.

I’ve been looking for reds ever since and pondering how to take a photo without being noticed.

Check out American Public Art installations here.

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Time to share my travels on foot again.

First up, plain folk waiting for their train. Next the street lamp in Narnia’s endless winter on the other side of the wardrobe.

The bird in the nest was given to me by an expectant mother as a thank you for “helping to feather my baby’s nest.” The baby is now in his late 20s.

I thought the snowy dogwood branches had a hopeful lift to them.

Finally, a team from the company Life is good put a lot of energy into building this giant Adirondack chair beside a beach ball, encouraging photographers to tweet pictures with the hashtag #ligbeachday. I saw a lot of homeward commuters snapping away en route to their trains. Quite a lot of advertising potential in this playful installation in Dewey Square, Boston.

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I blogged about the two previous murals in Dewey Square, here, and now there is a third one. The first two were by artists who had shows at the nearby Institute for Contemporary Arts (the ICA). The new one is by an artist associated with the Museum of Fine Arts (MFA).

According to Geoff Edgers at the Boston GlobeJill Medvedow, ICA director, was not pleased that the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy chose a different museum. “Really?” she said. “It’s walking distance to the ICA.”

WBUR radio’s “The Artery” covers more of the story: “Shinique Smith, the creator of the latest work, recalls seeing pictures on the Internet of that earlier mural by the Brazilian twins Os Gemeos. Standing in the grass below her piece, she told me she thought the wall was amazing, ‘and I wanted to do something like them.’ ” More here.

In case you’re wondering, Smith didn’t stand there painting it all herself like the Os Gemeos twins who did the first mural. Instead she gave a kind of map to skilled painters from a company that does this sort of thing, translating a smaller work into a giant one.

I took four photographs of the progress.

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roof-garden-at-office-buildingHere are some photographs from Greater Boston this spring.

The first three represent the work of an exceptional landscaper in an office building downtown.

I also want to show you that the Barking Crab may be surrounded by construction in the Seaport District but is still open for business. There’s a tall ship in the Harbor. The blue whale in the Greenway carousel is ready to ride, and the Greenway demonstration garden is producing strawberries. The Dewey Square farmers market has plenty of produce and flowers.

I threw in the third-floor balcony at home.

 

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What a treat to be outdoors in the Greenway again! Flowers and trees are starting to bloom, and there is always something new to observe.

Although I don’t use my phone on my walk, except to take pictures, a new amenity provided by Fort Point neighbor Life is good is likely to be welcomed by many visitors. I saw one phone-recharging kiosk near the Dewey Square food trucks and one near the Boston Harbor Hotel.

Got my lunch at the Vietnamese food truck Bon Me and ate outside in the sun.

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The Street Pianos are in Boston and getting some enthusiastic use. Today was a lovely day to be outside, and I saw several people of varying skill levels playing the two pianos in Dewey Square.

Occupy Boston’s time in the square having failed to do anything to change the tragedy of homelessness, a loose-knit fraternity were hanging out, listening to the music or taking a turn. A group of us from work went over to hear an economist/musician play duets with strangers and then start taking requests.

Since the pianos are supposed to stay outdoors in Boston until October 14 — sunshine, rain, or snow — several colleagues were wondering about how the Celebrity Series folks, who are sponsoring them, intend to keep the pianos safe. We concluded that the huge pieces of plastic nearby were placed there in the faith that public-spirited passerby would do the right thing in case of a cloudburst.

It was a beautiful day for a work break singing Gospel, rock, “Climb Every Mountain, and “Old MacDonald Had a Farm” (for a toddler in a stroller whose mom stopped to watch).

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Remember the new Dewey Square mural I blogged about recently, here?

The Boston Globe has a brief update for you, but their picture is blocked by a cherry picker. As soon as the Greenway moved the heavy equipment, I shot my own picture.

Be watching for more on Dewey Square. I have blogged about the two months that Occupy Boston camped there. I have blogged about the Greenway’s teaching garden alongside the Big Dig exit and about the farmers market that sets up Tuesdays and Thursdays. Soon I will show pictures of the pianos that arrived today — with people playing them, I hope.

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I keep a folder of things I want to check out in walking distance of the office. Today I pulled out a Boston Globe article from 2-1/2 years ago, “Depression-era mural gets a second chance to shine,” and set out.

A Stephen Etnier mural of Boston Harbor that had been rolled up and stored away in 1981 was back on display.

Etnier, as Brian Ballou wrote in the Globe, was “one of hundreds of artists across the country picked by the federal government in the late 1930s to early ’40s to depict characteristic scenes of their region in post offices. …

“In early 2005, postal employee Brian Houlihan came across the painting and alerted Dallan Wordekemper, the federal preservation officer for the United States Postal Service. The mural was sent to Parma Conservation in Chicago, which began to restore the artwork in late 2008.”

The restored painting, “Mail for New England,” was unveiled in April 2010, but it took me until today to get to the post office branch at Stuart and Clarendon.

I got an extra bonus, too, because on the way I saw a completely unexpected bit of street art by the famed Gemeos twins, whose work at the ICA and Dewey Square was described in an earlier post.

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Photos from my wanderings in Boston and Cambridge are piling up.

Can you identify the flower from the Greenway’s demonstration garden? It seems to be blotting out the mural in Dewey Square.

How about the approach to the Longfellow Bridge on the Kendall Square side of the Charles? Early in the morning, it looks like an ancient tomb.

I took the photo of City Hall for my only friend who thinks modernism is beautiful.

The Oyster House is a landmark.

And the Manichean clock is at Northeastern University. (You do, of course, remember the Manichean Heresy, which posited good and evil as equal forces?) Comments welcome.

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There is a huge structure in the middle of the Greenway that the inventive Sam and Leslie of Uni Project fame once envisioned as a projection screen for summer film festivals. It houses the Big Dig’s ventilation system.

About a week ago I was walking past and noticed what looked like window washers cleaning it. I thought, “Now, why would anyone want to wash that thing?”

A couple days later I saw why. Prepping the canvas.

This is in Dewey Square, where less than one year ago Occupy Boston pitched camp.

Now, writes Geoff Edgers in the Boston Globe, “That’s where Os Gemeos (‘the twins’), famous in the street art world for creating towering cartoonish figures with bright colors and grimacing expressions, began work on their first Boston piece. Depending on weather, they’ll need a little over a week to craft the mural on a wall of a Big Dig ventilation building and a second, smaller piece on the Revere Hotel near Boston Common.

“The pieces are part of the first solo museum exhibition in the United States for Os Gemeos. The Institute of Contemporary Art show, featuring paintings, mixed media works, and installations, opens Aug. 1.”

Read more and check out other art by these guys at the Globe.

You might also like to read the museum’s description of the brothers’ upcoming the exhibition:

“This August the ICA will present the first solo exhibition in the United States of works by the Brazilian brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo. Best known as Os Gêmeos, the twins are a major force in graffiti and urban art. The twins have a deep bond; they are tireless collaborators and say that they often experience the same dreams. In an effort to share their dreams with the world, they depict their visions in surreal paintings, sculpture, and installations: human figures with removable faces, exploding bursts of color, and room-size heads installed with shanty interiors.”

More from the ICA here.

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As you may recall, Occupy Boston camped out in Dewey Square. Today the new sod and the demonstration garden are flourishing alongside gourmet food trucks — and on farmers market days, alongside vendor tents.

But it’s still a place for the public voice to express itself. I hope you can see these chalk drawings, captured Tuesday. Already gone, they were a rather fleeting public voice, as street art often is. One is called “Octopi Boston.” There’s another featuring Cirque du Soleil and one on the Red Sox. Icon Architecture stealth is apparently behind that one.

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In the Greenway area where Occupy Boston camped last fall, there is now a demonstration garden. It includes raised beds of edible plants, a rain garden to capture run-off, and examples of urban composting. It’s a teaching garden.

Also in Dewey Square are food trucks, such as this Bon Me truck, which offers great Vietnamese lunches.

Around the block, in Fort Point Channel, the first of two Boston Tea Party Ships has arrived and has docked next to the new Boston Tea Party Museum.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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