Boston -- with its elegant, red-brick architecture and beautiful vistas along the Charles river -- is certainly a very pretty city, but it rarely thought of as a center for public artwork. However, that has begun to change. For example, last year the famed Brazilian artists Os Gemeos, in conjunction with a show of theirs at the ICA, put up a mural of a boy in pajamas in the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway in Dewey Square. The work -- which is slated to be replaced later this year -- is loud, brash, and controversial. It's also become a focal point for the discussion of public art in Boston.
As cities like Chicago -- which has subsidized public art since 1978 -- have shown, a diligent mayor can transform the artistic landscape of a city. With this in mind, we asked the mayoral candidates what their favorite piece of public art in this city is, and why. If you have a favorite piece or art, or an opinion on public art in the city, put it below in the comments section, or tweet it at #BosMayor.
Dan Conley, @DanFConley
Suffolk District Attorney
My favorite piece of public art is the Robert Gould Shaw Monument on Beacon Street. I've always been interested in the history of the Civil War and the many extraordinary men and women of that period. Shaw was a man well ahead of his time who firmly believed in the fighting ability and bravery of black soldiers. He was right, and willing to take a stand for his principles and core beliefs. I've always admired people like him. Shaw also trained the MA 54th at Camp Meigs in the Readville section of Hyde Park. 100 years later I played Little League Baseball on those same fields as a young boy growing up in Hyde Park! The monument itself is artistically impressive and it honors a true American hero: Robert Gould Shaw.
John Barros, @JohnFBarros
Former school board member
My favorite piece of public art is the monument to the Massachusetts 54th Regiment Memorial representing the sacrifice and full inclusion of the US Army's first African American regiment. This art represents both the heroes that sacrificed in a pivotal battle in the Civil War, but also the leadership that Boston has and continues to play in ensuring that all individuals are included in our society.
Bill Walczak, @BillforBoston
My favorite public art piece in Boston is The Pear in Edward Everett Square. I like The Pear because the piece is quirky and it evokes questions on its meaning. The Pear is meant to remind us of old Dorchester, a community that was known for its innovative farming methods, and invites us to look farther to the statue of Edward Everett and the Blake House, the oldest house in Boston.
Charlotte Golar-Richie, @Charlotte4Mayor
Former State Representative
One of my favorite pieces of public art is the Boston Women’s Memorial on Commonwealth Avenue, which honors three women who have contributed to our city’s rich and illustrious history: Abigail Adams, Lucy Stone, and Phillis Wheatley. These women, through their literary prowess and steadfast activism, paved the way for many others to follow – including me. This memorial makes visible and knowledgeable the efforts made by the women of Boston to not just the city but to the American people as a whole. I witnessed its unveiling with great pride, and to have it rooted right there on one of our city’s most beautiful boulevards, Commonwealth Avenue, makes clear to our visitors and residents the great respect that we have for their presence in our history, and our appreciation for the heroism of the past.
Mike Ross, @MikeForBoston
Boston City Councilor
Marty Walsh, @Marty_Walsh
I like the Clapp Pear by Laura Baring Gould in Edward Everett Square in Dorchester. The work speaks to Dorchester’s agricultural history; the Clapp Pear was cultivated on a farm that stood at the site where the pear now stands. The piece also includes 10 satellite sculptures representing other aspects of the past, present and future or Dorchester, which were added after an extensive series of conversations with neighborhood residents. The process, which I was part of, was rewarding. I especially like the bronze three decker! I know not everybody likes that sculpture, but it means a lot to the people of the neighborhood, and it enlivens an area that has had challenges. I also really love the Shaw Memorial. Boston needs more public art – temporary and permanent. It adds vitality. When elected, we will look to identify revenue sources and partnerships that will allow us to expand public art in Boston.
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