Posts Tagged ‘stealth art’

Greg Cook has a lovely story at WBUR’s “The Artery” on Boston artist Nate Swain’s Zen garden.

Swain tells the reporter, ” ‘I worked driving a tour trolley in Charlestown, and I drove over that bridge every day to go to work, and looked down … I went down there not even knowing what I wanted to do.’

“At the edge of the Charles River, near the North Washington Street Bridge, by the dock in front of the Residence Inn by Marriott on the east end of the park, he’s been assembling ‘Low Tide City’ or ‘Barnacle City.’ It’s ‘a little city’ of bricks and stones that disappears under the river and appears when the tide goes out. ‘I realized it could be an art piece about sea level change,’ he says. ‘People could watch it flood and imagine Boston could do that if sea level rises.’

“And right under the Zakim Bridge, Swain realized he could rake the existing expanse of gravel he found there into patterns, much like a traditional Zen rock garden, to create ‘Zen Under the Zakim.’ He says, ‘If you really sit there and you listen to all the noise, some of the traffic, even though it’s really noisy, it does sound like ocean waves.’ …

” ‘I try to find places where I can do art without asking permission. In Boston, there’s so much bureaucracy. There’s no room for spontaneity. … With all the bureaucracy and the permission-asking, it sucks all the energy and all the inspiration out of the art piece itself.’ …

” ‘I have this theory,’ he adds, ‘if you put something up beautiful and colorful and fun, in good taste, uplifting, it will stay and everyone will love it and no one will bat an eye.’ ”

More here.

Photo: Greg Cook
Nate Swain’s “Zen Under the Zakim” in 2015.

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At first, Suzanne and Erik thought the chair backs attached to tree stumps on Blackstone Boulevard must have been the work of a conservancy-type organization. The boulevard’s broad, shaded medial strip for walkers, runners, and baby carriages is always well maintained and welcoming.

But it turns out that a “guerrilla good deed campaign” is behind the tree-stump art. Erin Swanson, of Providence’s East Side Monthly, tracked down a vigilante known as Johnny Chair Seed.

“Last summer,” Swanson writes, “a few friends were having themselves a little stroll down Power Street when they stumbled upon a broken chair, discarded on the sidewalk. A few footsteps further, they happened upon a tree stump. ‘It started as just a random idea. We figured someone got drunk and broke the chair,’ says the anonymous mastermind behind the array of stump chairs now scattered throughout the East Side. ‘I hear people have started calling me Johnny Chair Seed,’ he says with a devilish smile. ‘I kind of like it.’

“With the help of two friends (two of the ‘select few’ who know his true identity), Johnny has constructed a total of ten stump chairs including those on Hope, Rochambeau, Blackstone, Elmgrove and Larch, among others.” The full article is here.

Makes me want to do a stealth project again. It’s been too long. I have something in mind involving poetry. Stay tuned.

Photograph: East Side Monthly

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