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Posts Tagged ‘art’

Artwork in the square. Deceptively simple looking and especially quite elegant when a gentle breeze blows and there’s plenty of breeze in Copley Square.

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Holy Family Sculpture by Steve Rose of Boston Ice Effects

It was cold in Copley Square yesterday but well worth the layering, hand warmers jammed into pockets, etc to watch the action as this depiction of the Holy Family emerged from blocks of ice. Weather permitting you should be able to view this life-sized outdoor sculpture between 4:30 and 7:30 daily into the New Year. Located on the Boylston Street side of Trinity Church near the statue of Phillips Brooks.

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Trinity Church in Copley Square. Boston

Well, I can tell you, with a little behind the scenes knowledge, that the only things missing from this view of Trinity Church are the four large wreaths that will hang from the columns of the church’s now brightly lit west porch and a life-size ice scene of the nativity sculpted by local artist Steve Rose of Boston Ice Effects. The sculpture will be located near the Phillips Brooks statue on the Boylston Street side of the church and will also be illuminated. This decoration is just one part of the church’s reimagining its traditional Candlelight Carols. Festivities begin this Saturday December 19th including the launch of Trinity’s first ever “Christmas Peek.”

The church’s Copley Square doors will then be open for visitors to step into a glassed alcove for a glimpse of a festive tableau. Featuring a grove of Christmas trees decorated with lights, stars, and parishioners’ ornaments, and Trinity’s worship space decked with greenery, poinsettias, and crèche, the experience will be joyfully accented with the sights and sounds of Candlelight Carols playing on large screens and airing through speakers facing the Square. The Christmas Peek will then remain open from 4:30-7:30 p.m. on most evenings (including Christmas Eve) through the Feast of the Epiphany on January 6. With safety and wellness a presiding concern, the program will abide the state’s COVID-19 protocols.

Via the following link you can find out more details about the launch and how you can participate in person or virtually. https://www.trinitychurchboston.org/event/opening-night-of-candlelight-carols

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It was simply and strangely beautiful. Walking through a world-class museum. There should have been chaotic hustle and bustle, the sounds of school children, teens taking selfies, seniors dressed to the nines meeting up for tea. Instead my friends and I were part of a very small cohort of people with tickets to see the Monet exhibit at the Boston Museum of Fine Art until we we were ready to leave and create space for others to enter. It was a special treat. Even as social distancing has become a new norm of the moment in the age of COVID, there have also been created these weirdly intimate opportunities to experience the world.

I expect that this exhibit of 35 Monet and other paintings would have been curated quite differently pre-pandemic. The current curation is expansive. There’s lots of space between paintings, and you’re moved through several large rooms that provide just enough information about his life, his influences, the growth of his garden, and the creation of that magnificent pond.

We are reminded of Monet’s triumphs. He was an acknowledged success during his life time. But we are also reminded of his humanity as we learn of his struggles to achieve his artistic vision … struggles that in the end produced great beauty.

An excellent exhibit and one I hope others have an opportunity to view in person. But if you can’t visit there is a lovely preview video on the MFA’s website, a slide show, behind the scenes with the curator and much more. See link below.

https://www.mfa.org/exhibition/monet-and-boston-lasting-impression

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branches

I’ve only done one art installation. It revolved around the childhood food memories of former slaves living in the deep south. It was an installation that was visual and tactile with hanging branches and shells. Thankfully, people found it thought provoking. A new installation comes to mind based on the experiences of children enslaved in New England. The concept is based on the content of advertisements in newspapers from the 18th century. With regard to slavery, you can divide the ads into at least two categories: “to be sold” and “runaway.” And then there were a few ads I came across that one might almost categorize as “giveaway.” These ads most often involve young children.

“A negro infant girl about six weeks old to be given for the bringing up. Inquire of John Campbell Post-Master to know further …” (1706)

Imagine walking into a room lit by flickering lamplight. Against the wall there would be a simple desk and chair and on the desk accessories strewn about appropriate to the times including a ledger book. Nearby stands a period printing press. In the air are sounds one might hear to give a sense of place, perhaps the scratch of a quill pen on stationery, the shuffling of papers, the machinations of the printing press, and maybe someone whistling or playing a bone flute with some ditty of the day. And in the background, steadily becoming louder, is the sound of a child crying. And that building sound might draw the viewer’s attention to a different part of the room where there is a big wooden block, not unlike an auction block, and upon the block is a straw basket. The cries emanate from it. Hanging, or projected onto the wall, is that ad: “A negro infant girl about six weeks old to be given for the bringing up.”

Then one might enter a different room, a small room, dimly lit. Scattered about would be household items appropriate to the times including clothing for young children. The sound in the air this time? Perhaps the babble of young children, the gurgle of a baby and then a mother’s voice, frantic yet calm, as she tries to rush them, to shush them, and get them moving out a door. That door slams shut, “Wham!” and then the ad is projected on the wall:

“Ran away from their Master … a Negro woman with four small children, three of them mulattos, the youngest a Negro that sucks or is lately weaned …”

In a later newspaper advertisement I would find that that same woman would runaway from that same man this time with just her now two year old Negro child. What was this woman’s story? What was her name? What happened to the other children? What choices had to be made?

The following ad particularly struck me because it helps bring to life in a different way the economic linkages between north and south long before this land was ever one nation.

“Any person with a Negro man slave or slaves to sell or to be transported to Virginia for a market may repair to John Cambpell Post-Master of Boston … transport will be free …”

For this ad the viewer would be directed to walk into a room that is a carpenter’s shop or a blacksmith’s shop or even a distillery. You’d hear the sounds of men at work, orders being placed. Then as the din dies down you hear a man with a British accent call out a list of names to come to him … Cato, Scipio, Jupiter, Prince. Maybe he’ll say, “Gentlemen, you’ve done fine work but I have need to send you away.”

Why revisit the past?

So that the past will not be repeated. But also so that we better understand what actually happened. Just these few ads paint a different picture of colonial New England for me. The historic landscape is deeper, richer and darker. It gives further credence to how the contagion of slavery is part of the very foundations of this country. We cannot move past something if we do not understand what it is that we are trying to move past.

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Settling into a new home. One corner at a time.

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athena

The Bowdoin Murals are found in the rotunda of the Walker Art Building at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine. The four murals in the building represent Athens, Florence, Rome and Venice, honoring cities that had profoundly affected western art. Each of the four artists chosen to paint the murals were considered masters of figure painting. One of those artists was John La Farge. Among his fellow artists, which included Elihu Vedder, John Thayer and Kenyon Cox, La Farge was considered the elder statesman or senior artist.

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La Farge chose as his subject Athens and the goddess Athena. Each of the murals features a central female form. In La Farge’s case his mural’s central subject is not Athena, but a nymph being painted by the goddess herself in a sacred grove.

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Due to be completed in spring 1894 just before the building’s dedication, La Farge’s mural was not actually installed until 1898.

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In the following publication you can read a very detailed and fascinating account of the Walker Art Building, the creation of the murals and the behind the scenes of La Farge at work. https://digitalcommons.bowdoin.edu/art-museum-miscellaneous-publications/2/

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bradley2

Detail from stained glass window by Margaret Redmond (1867-1948). Located at Trinity Church in the City of Boston and dedicated to her friend and fellow painter Susan Hinckley Bradley (1851-1929). You can read more about Redmond and Bradley here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Margaret_Redmond

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Hinckley_Bradley

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bluepeacockvault

With new lighting comes new opportunities to create. Trinity Church in the City of Boston has been updating its interior lighting, and with new light have come revelations so to speak as ceiling artwork once hidden in the shadows comes to life once more as originally conceived in 1877. Of course this provides new photographic opportunities like capturing this lovely blue peacock amidst green vines and rose flowers. We’re at work translating this image into merchandise for the shop. So far, we’ve created a latte mug, a decorative pen and … hold your breath … yes, a silk chiffon scarf is waiting in the wings along with a charming hand mirror. Stop by the shop sometime to see these and other items that capture the unique beauty of this National Historic Landmark and active Episcopal church. https://www.trinitychurchboston.org/visit

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Before I leaned over the stairwell to photograph the window, I asked the gentleman at the front desk to listen carefully. If he heard a thud, he should come running. Luckily there was no thud and I was able to photograph an interesting decorative detail from the window, Purity, by John La Farge.

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In the early 1900s, during a lecture to young architecture students, John La Farge made the point that “The use of color in architectural decoration is not mere arrangement of pleasing tints. It is a matter of construction by color.” His philosophy is evidenced throughout Trinity Church. The rich colors and bold patterns he produced provide great inspiration for new custom merchandise from the simplicity of a square coaster to so much more including a green bordered 36 x 36 chiffon scarf, canvas pencil pouch and fountain pen. You’ll be able to find these items on the shelves of the shop at Trinity Church starting in January. Below is a slideshow of how a new pattern evolved from its original source. Hope you enjoy!

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