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Posts Tagged ‘highway’


Image: Ida Schmulowitz
Artist Ida Schmulowitz says, “I have painted landscapes outside from a pedestrian bridge overlooking a highway since 1983. I feel a very strong bond to this particular place.”

My friend and former boss Meredith Fife Day, an artist, put up an intriguing Facebook post not long ago. It was about the work of a Rhode Island artist who has been painting the view from the bridge at India Point over and over since 1983. No two paintings alike.

Meredith wrote, “Ida Schmulowitz of Providence has painted on site on a pedestrian bridge over the highway near her home and studio for more than 30 years. No camera. No sizing canvases to fit her easel. No hesitation to return again and again until the painting is finished. The paintings are on canvas and average 6-by-8 feet. …

“I had the good fortune of meeting the artist and writing about her work for Art New England 10 years ago. Here is an excerpt from that review:

“ ‘Applying paint in thin layers Schmulowitz often took a morning painting back out at sunset months after it was begun. A pale sky gone peachy-orange carries its history and alludes to color’s role in the passage of time. As highway shadows lengthened at the end of the day, their geometry became more explicit and their hue more saturated. Footprints left in the foreground from walking on the canvas to reach the upper edges mimic brushmarks. The confidence that comes with knowing a site, and developing over the years a vocabulary that expresses its essence, unleashes great intuitive force. That force explodes in these works.’ “

At her website, Schmulowitz explains, “I feel a very strong bond to this particular place (India Point). I’ve felt compelled to record it year after year in all seasons and times of the day. I struggle with trying to combine the structural essence of the place with my internal vision. Changes in the landscape itself, or shifting my vantage point just slightly, are the catalysts for creating a new series.”

I love the strong colors and shapes of the paintings on the website — and the way the shadows lengthen in views of the same scene. Choose from tabs “Bridge View,” “Park View,” “Highway,” “School View,” “Stop Sign,” and “Studio View.”

Photo: Sandor Bodo
The artist says that on the way home after work, “I lay the wet canvas flat and drag it back flat through the streets to my studio. This contributes somewhat to an imperfect surface, that I like to work with, and feel it is part of the process.” 

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Photos: Bo Zhao
Boston has put a colorful park under Interstate 93. Bright lights, art, 24-hour security, and an ever changing array of events are expected to connect communities that the highway long divided.

When I had a chunk of free time at my last job, I’d take a walk over to an artsy part of Boston called SoWa, for “South of Washington Street.” It was a place of antique dealers, a homeless shelter, art galleries, and farmers markets.

As interesting as SoWa was, it abutted a bleak wasteland under Interstate 93. People had to walk under there — I walked under there — because the highway divided the neighborhood. But it was creepy.

Saturday saw the opening of an unusual park under the highway. I wasn’t there, but a former colleague who manages to see everything of interest in the city got a kick out of it, commenting that he was surprised to find the park is so near Boston’s public Harbor Walk. He shared his photos here.

at the Daily Free Press provided the background. “National Development, the developer of Ink Block, is partnering with Reebok to make the project a reality. The park, which was originally an 8-acre underpass between South Boston and the South End, will feature a pedestrian and bicycle boardwalk, 175 parking spaces for local businesses and a mural wall, according to the release.

“Ted Tye, the managing partner at National Development, said the park was originally supposed to be a plain, normal park when the Massachusetts Department of Transportation started on the project across the street from where their Ink Block brand is located. Once National Development gained access to the project; however, the idea changed. …

“Tye said the idea behind incorporating the murals, which was curated by Street Theory, artistic duo Victor ‘Marka27’ Quiñonez and Liza Quiñonez, was to appeal to companies and younger generations looking to find their start in Boston. …

“Tye said, ‘It makes it really an exciting, new destination, a new playground in the city, and we’ll be extending that not just with our opening event [September 9] but looking into next year with some really great programming.’

“Another reason for opening the park, Tye said, is to connect the neighboring communities of South Boston and the South End and to make the area surrounding the Broadway Bridge safer to walk.

“ ‘By filling in this area with a place that’s well-lit, with a place that will have 24-hour security, with a place that will have lots of people, and activity, and music and art — it makes that gap a lot shorter,’ Tye said. ‘The people that are moving into the Ink Block area are now feeling really good about walking to South Boston, about using the Broadway T station, and it just really connects the two communities.’

“Sneha ‘IMAGINE876’ Shrestha, a Boston-based artist who is contributing to the mural wall described her style as ‘mindful mantras in [her] native language where [she meshes] the aesthetics of Sanskrit scriptures with graffiti influences.’

“Shrestha wrote in an email she wanted to give back to the Boston community as it was the first place she was exposed to the art of graffiti.

“ ‘As a kid from Nepal, I didn’t grow up seeing graffiti or much of any sort of art,’ Shrestha said. …

“Shrestha wrote the location of Underground at Ink Block excited her because it was near her first employer Artists for Humanity, a nonprofit which works to employ under-resourced urban youth interested in art and design, according to their website.

“ ‘My first job out of college was at Artists for Humanity and this is where I realized the effect of art on young people and how I can contribute to being an agent of positive change through art,’ Shrestha said. ‘It feels full circle in a lot of ways to have a mural here as my token of gratitude to this place.’ ”

Tim Logan at the Boston Globe, wondered whether getting to the park will be too challenging for people who are not going between the neighborhoods anyway.

He writes, “Drawing people to a place like this takes work, said Bob Uhlig, president of the Boston landscape architecture firm Halvorson Design. Color will help, he said; so will good lighting. Filling the place with popular, consistent programming will go a long way toward making it a destination, much as the Lawn on D has become, he added.

“ ‘That really adds another level of vibrancy, having something programmed on a regular basis,’ Uhlig said. ‘You want to get people to come back, repeatedly.’

“And, he said, you want the locals to use it. There’s a row of big buildings going up just a block away along Harrison Avenue, which will add thousands of residents to a corner of the city with relatively little park space. This is a chance to create some, even if it’s below a highway.”

More at the Free Press, here, and at the Globe, here.

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Once again, Andrew Sullivan provides me with a thought to chew on. I had heard of building tunnels under highways to let wildlife maintain their historic routes, but  an Orion magazine article on the topic includes an overpass.

Andrew Blechman wrote the article. “When the Montana Department of Transportation approached the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes about widening the portion of U.S. Highway 93 that bisects the Flathead Indian Reservation, the tribes resisted. They first wanted assurances that any highway expansion would address the spirit that defines this region of prime wildlife habitat and natural wonders. The primary goal for the tribes was to mitigate the impact of the road on wildlife.

“While people view highways as a means of getting from one place to another, to wildlife they are just the opposite: a barrier….

“Collaboration between the tribes and highway engineers, with help from Montana State University and Defenders of Wildlife, led to the creation of the most progressive and extensive wildlife-oriented road design program in the country.

“The 56-mile segment of Highway 93 now contains 41 fish and wildlife underpasses and overpasses, as well as other protective measures to avoid fatalities. As creatures become accustomed to the crossings, usage is increasing—at last count, the number was in the tens of thousands. Motion cameras have captured does teaching their young to run back and forth through the crossings, much like human mothers teach their children to safely cross a street.” More at Orion.

See the overpass below.

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Trust Vermont to figure out how to do this.

The state had a highway rest stop in Guilford that was overwhelmed with visitors. The toilets could not keep up. Portable toilets were brought in to help, and everyone hated them.

“State officials,” says the Federal Highway Administration website, “needed a solution that could be designed and built quickly for the next foliage season.

” ‘We were looking for an alternative because we couldn’t continue with that high level of frustration,’ said [Dick Foster, director of the Vermont Information Center Division of the state’s Department of Buildings and General Services.]

“To further complicate matters, the welcome center was slated to be replaced by a newer facility in 2000, so the ‘quick fix’ also needed to be low cost. Tom Leytham, an architect who had designed other rest areas in the state, suggested the concept of using a Living Machine to Foster. …

” ‘I’d heard about Living Technologies, who had come up with a very elegant, simple solution that cleaned wastewater through a natural process involving plants.’

“Leytham drove Foster to South Burlington, Vt., where Living Technologies had installed a Living Machine to treat municipal wastewater. …

“In December 1996, in response to an inquiry from state officials, Living Technologies proposed a sewage-to-reuse system to reduce flows to the leachfields by recycling treated wastewater back into the restrooms to flush toilets. The Living Machine could be installed to serve the existing facilities at the Guilford center, and because the system was a modular design, it could be moved to another rest area when the center was relocated.

“In only eight months, the system was approved by the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, funded by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and Vermont Department of Buildings and General Services, and installed by Living Technologies.”

The rest of the FHWA story by Molly Farrell, Liz Van der Hoven, and Tedann Olsen is here.

Katie Zezima at the NY Times adds more: “In a wing of the building, in the glass greenhouse, visitors look down on the vegetation from a grated ledge. The room, which offers spectacular mountain views, smells like a combination of mulch and chlorine.

“The building is heated and cooled by 24 geothermal wells. A similar system lies under the sidewalks to melt snow in the winter.” More from Zezima here.

Photo: Federal Highway Administration

http://www.fhwa.dot.gov/publications/publicroads/00mayjun/vermont.cfm

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