Art in public places may focus our attention on history, heroes, beauty, whimsy, controversy or even possibilities for the future. Boston’s Art Commission is charged with overseeing the commissioning, procuring and care of public art for the city, and some of that art lives right here in South Boston.
“Aqueous Humour” is a set of steel and granite interactive sculptures in South Boston Maritime Park. Award-winning artist (and professor at Rhode Island School of Design) Ellen Driscoll completed the kinetic work in 2004. Mosaics set inside stainless steel wheels depict images of marine life and the fishing and shipping industries, both from contemporary and historical times. When passers-by spin the wheels, unanticipated combinations of images appear. The rotating circular forms of the sculptures refer to the wheels that drive cranes at the nearby Conley Terminal, part of Boston’s shipping port.
A sculpture of Boston’s first Olympic champion, James Brendan Connolly, can be found in Columbus Park, near Old Colony Road. Connolly, a South Boston native, competed in the first Olympic Games of the modern era in Greece in 1896. The opening event of those Games was the “hop, skip and jump,” perhaps akin to the triple jump athletes do today. (Connolly seems to be landing a long jump in this bronze sculpture by Thomas Haxo.) He went on to win the same event at a later Olympics, before turning to writing. He was a correspondent during the first World War for the Boston Globe and other publications. He also wrote novels and short stories, and passed away in 1957 at age 88.
The PaintBox program of the Boston Art Commission offers opportunities for artists to paint utility boxes within their own communities. South Boston has some creative and vibrant boxes as a result of this program, including a black and white one called, “Fizz,” by Rebecca Greene on East Broadway near the library, and one called, “Man Hole,” by Dan McCole, featuring the likeness of a worker on a ladder, locating the source of a problem. “Man Hole” is on West Broadway, just west of where it meets East Broadway.
Check out the Boston Art Commission’s interactive map of public art throughout the city.
Blog post by the Joyce Lebedew Real Estate Team.