With great enthusiasm, I share my recent discoveries of three public art projects within the relatively new Louis A. DePasquale Universal Design Playground: 1. Mitch Ryerson’s “Sensory Hilltop,” 2. NuVu Studio’s “Pipe Dreams,” 3. Dominic Killiany’s paintings. Here I simply build on background in earlier ART Outdoors posts about Mitch Ryerson’s playground design, but the other two were new to me: Nu Vu Studios, the Innovation School in Central Square Cambridge, and Dominic Killiany, an artist with autism. I hope the photos, quotes, and links add to your own explorations.
Public art in Somerville has enlightened me in many ways in recent years. Here are two more examples, each enlivening my resources as a long-time volunteer guide at deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln. Both focus on fascinating aspects of Somerville’s Union Glass Company, owned by Julian deCordova through the early years of the twentieth century. One is among the seven vibrant panels of the Union Square History Murals on the building where Webster Avenue (55-50) and Prospect Street (70) intersect. The other is a bright sturdy signpost, among more than fifty others in Conway Park on Somerville Avenue. Here are photos, quotes, and notes to elaborate their connections.
Restored and New Art Combine in Renovated Clarendon Avenue Playground: Bronze Birds by Juliet Kepes with Leaf-Pattern Fence by Bart Uchida
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. ….
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.
Endurance is a quality shared by the turtle sculptures in this post. Lilli Ann Roseberg’s colorful concrete turtles in Cambridge have been ridden, jumped on, snowed in, flooded over and lots more in the past three decades. Nancy Schön’s bronze Myrtle the Turtle was bound up and relocated within Boston’s Myrtle Street Playground soon after settling in last year. These sculptures endured isolation while playgrounds were closed in the spring and then cautiously reopened.
Judy McKie’s bronze cat benches and Jay Coogan’s aluminum dogs and cats were kept off location during extensive construction of Cambridge Public school and library properties where they had become favorite features. Soon after they returned ready to resume their roles, the closing of all schools and libraries in March 2020 cut short the opportunities for children and adults to interact with them again. Though I had found opportunities to admire and photograph these artful animals, I didn’t want to share the images until the sculptures could be part of daily life once more.
As playgrounds have cautiously reopened, I can happily share photos of art by Mitch Ryerson and Gail Boyajian. This lifts my own sad restrictions on earlier posts about these artists and others with work outside Maud Morgan Arts. Now I can show and celebrate art that was meant to be where children play.
Mitch Ryerson’s Dancing Benches near the Sacramento Street sidewalk signal the start of the short walk to the gate that leads our way to workshops and studio classes at MMVA whenever art centers can open up again. Meanwhile these two benches have led my way to learn how many other enticing outdoor structures have come out of Ryerson Design.
The more I learn about sculpture by Katharine Lane Weems (1898 — 1989), the more I admire the art, the artist and the animals. An earlier post about two rhinos, Bess and Victoria, installed 1937 in Cambridge led me on to sites in Boston with work by this artist “famous for her realistic portrayals of animals.” Her art combined scientific accuracy, meticulous renderings, and creative design to bring out the animals’ majesty and character. This post notes four places in Boston to be in the presence of her elegant animals.