Posted by boston.com October 23, 2013 11:00 AM
By Norm Williams, Guest Columnist
The Ryerson family of three did not plan to attend Fenway’s Opening Our Doors. They were “Just coming into Boston for the train ride,” said Marionnelle Ryerson, mother to Tracy and Lexie. After discovering the event, the Ryersons attended a performance of The Fairy Circus by the Tanglewood Marionettes in The Mary Baker Eddy Library for the Betterment of Humanity. Lexie [left] also had her face painted there with an exquisite flower, which she showed off as she smiled.
Side Walk Sam’s chalk art has been part of Opening Our Doors event from its start in 2001. Robert Guillemin, known professionally as Side Walk Sam, said Opening Our Doors is, “A moment when 22 august institutions of art open their doors and say, ‘We are friends with you. Come be friends with us.’”
The mission of Opening Our Doors is to enable the public to discover all the diverse and rich cultural opportunities in the Fenway on one day and at no cost. The 22 participating institutions are a mix of the world renowned – the Museum of Fine Arts and Symphony Hall, for example -- to the locally popular – such as the Massachusetts Historical Society and Huntington Theatre Company.
Held annually on Columbus Day, Opening Our Doors offers free access to 17 arts and cultural venues with 60 programs across the Fenway, including dance, music, and theatre performances like Bloco AfroBrazil, a carnival percussion group, and Urbanity Dance, a contemporary dance company that put on a workshop for children to learn about modern dance styles.
Promoted as Boston’s largest free public cultural event, Opening Our Doors draws 14 thousand visitors. Attendance has grown more through word of mouth and passersby than publicity, according to Lesley Pitts, chair of The Fenway Alliance, which organizes the event. The alliance sees potential for more visitors.
“The greater Boston public just doesn’t have any idea that this is available to them,” said Mina Kim, assistant director of the alliance.
The Leo family found the event unexpectedly as they strolled along The Christian Science Plaza on a sunny and warm day. The plaza is the main staging area for Opening Our Doors and home to The First Church of Christ Scientist. It’s an extensive open, bricked walking area with a large reflecting pool. Martine, Sen, and their daughter Lily found families enjoying Chalk Art with Side Walk Sam, and they joined in the fun.
“The purpose of Opening Our Doors is to invite the arts to be part of humanity and humanity to be part of the arts,” said Side Walk Sam. His wife, Tina Guillemin, added, “It’s about art institutions working together on one day to show what they have to offer – a kind of bouquet of the arts.”