Restored and New Art Combine in Renovated Clarendon Avenue Playground: Bronze Birds by Juliet Kepes with Leaf-Pattern Fence by Bart Uchida

Bronze birds by Juliet Kepes on stone wall below metal fence designed by Bart Uchida, Clarendon Avenue Park, Cambridge, summer 2021:

In 1980, artist Juliet Kepes designed five bronze birds for the brick walls of Clarendon Avenue Park in Cambridge. A longtime admirer of her children’s book illustration, I wasn’t aware of her range of creative work until a few years ago when I read the Cambridge Arts/ Public Art listing below. By the time I managed to visit the park in 2019, it was closed off for extended renovations after almost forty years of use.

“The five bronze-birds, frozen in various stages of flight on a low brick wall next to the playground, are the creation of an acclaimed illustrator of children’s books, Juliet Kepes. With a great affinity for animals, Kepes wrote 17 children’s books with calligraphic drawings of birds, frogs and other creatures, three of which were designated in the top ten children’s books of the year by the New York Times.” ( three photos and quote excerpt from Cambridge Arts, Public Art Tour Map)

Recently I learned that the renovated park had opened, so I headed there one early evening in July. The bronze birds were back, set against a stone wall that replaced their brick background. Floral plantings enhanced their new setting, with the promising addition of a flowing plant-patterned fence that certainly added to my appreciation of the whole park. I couldn’t find the name or signature of the fence designer in the park or any of the web searches I usually rely on, but at last I came upon the name Bart Uchida!

“Bart Shigeru Uchida is a Sansei sculptor and multimedia artist. Born in Vancouver, Canada, Uchida has studied and worked in Canada and Italy, and currently shares his time living between the United States and Argentina. His work has evolved from carving to include large scale installations, performance art and public and community artworks. ” ( quote excerpt from Bio in Japanese Canadian Artists Directory)

Wishing that both artists’ names were featured somewhere, I was newly motivated to post, just to establish/celebrate their contribution to the inviting spirit of the restructured space. Here I can at least offer each artist’s background and links, along with the city’s information about the park improvement project. Someday soon I hope to post about other places with work by both artists.

Key Resources: Juliet Kepes (1919 -1999) Archives, ARS LIBRI LTD.

Clarendon Avenue Playground Repairs and Upgrades

Bart Uchida, art in Cambridge

4 comments

  1. Linda Coyne · · Reply

    This is beautiful! What an inviting park – thank you for posting.

    1. Thank you, Linda, for your attention and encouragement!

  2. Cathy Ballou Mealey · · Reply

    Those sidewalk shadows – wow!

  3. Thanks very much for your comment.
    Yes, sidewalk shadows are a fascinating feature of the fence design.

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