Join us for presentations by the Dudley Square
Municipal Center Public Art Finalists!
In early November, a group of six finalists were chosen to develop public art proposals for the Dudley Square Municipal Center. Since then, the artists have been hard at work on their proposals, and they will be presenting their conceptual designs at public meetings on Monday, January 20th and Tuesday, January 21st from 6-8pm in the Community Room at Central Boston Elder Services in Dudley Square. Each short-listed artist will have twenty minutes to present their concepts for either the Wall Design Project or the Outdoor Sculpture Project. Two artists will be chosen (one from the Wall Design group, the second from the Outdoor Sculpture group) to develop their designs for installation at the Dudley Municipal Center in November 2014. Images of the proposed designs and a schedule of the meetings can be seen below.
In addition to showcasing exciting, site-specific work by professional artists, the Dudley Square Municipal Center will also celebrate the artwork of Boston Public School Students. We are currently accepting proposals from current BPS students for the Acoustic Panel Project. The deadline for entry is Monday, January 20th. Please encourage any and all Boston Public School students to fill out the application found here!
Take a look at the proposals and join us on 1/20 and 1/21 to hear the artists talk about their designs! Comment cards will be distributed to the audience during the presentations for selection committee review. If you are not able to make the presentations, send us an email at email@example.com. with your thoughts!
Our design presents a conceptual interweaving of Dudley’s past, present, and future by knitting together Ferdinand’s iconic ghost-sign with a representation of a quilt that features historical design elements from Boston’s Elevated Railway. While the ghost-sign serves as a reminder of Roxbury’s bustling mercantile past, the flowing quilt is made up of fragments of Boston’s transportation history to represent the momentum of Roxbury’s vibrant, progressive, and diverse community. As the sign merges into the quilt, it begins to blow gently in the wind, suggesting a presence of movement—a force essential to the flow and transformation necessary for development. The bare brick exposed beneath the quilt suggests a burgeoning future of yet untapped possibilities for Dudley, Roxbury, and the City of Boston as a whole.
As sign artists and historians, we were intrigued by the mural advertisement that endured on the side of the Ferdinand building for so many years after its original use had ceased. Signs are one of the many features that help define a city’s character by lending a semantic meaning to places whose historical purpose may otherwise go unrecognized. We believe that the sign, as much as the historical structure itself, contributed to the iconic status of the Ferdinand Building, in part because its message remained steadfast in the face of many changes in the neighborhood over the years. Since the original sign had been painted in a time before the regulation of lead and other toxic chemicals in paint, it had to be removed. We propose a re-creation and a re-imagining of this prominent landmark consistent with the architectural developments of the Dudley Sq. Municipal Building project as a whole. ¬
By knitting the faded Ferdinand’s ghost-sign into a colorful quilt, we aim to evoke both a unified sense of nostalgia and aspiration as well as a unified sense of community. The geometric shapes that make up the pattern of the quilt are inspired by the structural elements of the Elevated Railway. The bright, glossy colors represent Ferdinand’s Blue Store, the Orange Line, and the green of the Elevated Railway’s structure. The modular architectural components of the El are presented in a fragmented, yet consistent way to celebrate the use of existing building blocks to construct a new and purposeful object. As the El connected different communities through public transportation, the interlacing of its aesthetic and structural components suggests a connection between the varied cultures and traditions of Roxbury’s dynamic community.
The quilt as a metaphor for diversity is an analogy deeply rooted in American tradition; a quilt represents a unified whole that’s been stitched together from disparate parts without any piece losing its distinctive characteristics. Like hand-made signs, quilts operate as functional pieces of art. But while signs are impassive, fixed, and have a commercial purpose, quilts are warm, flexible, and invite comfort. The conflation of a traditionally commercial art form with a conventionally domestic one represents Dudley’s future as a reinvigorated place of commerce, but also a place that many call home. By re-purposing the ghost-sign and the modular design elements of the El into a tapestry that laces together history and potential, we present a unique mural that addresses the complex and multi-layered dynamics of this vital neighborhood.
This summer I was invited by FIGMENT, producers of local community-based art events, to participate in a mural festival at Bartlett Yard just outside of Dudley Square in Roxbury. As a resident of the Fort Hill neighborhood of Roxbury for the past five years, it was something I could not pass up. I was grateful to receive a prime spot right on Washington Street, visible to passersby. There was free spray paint donated to the event as well as a lift. This enabled me to produce the largest mural I had done to date. I met a large community of local artists. To the right of my designated spot was an artist named Ricardo Gomez. He produced a fantastic mural of the elevated Orange Line with details only someone who grew up locally could execute.
It's been over six months since that inspiring weekend. I regularly drive down Washington Street to visit the site. Unfortunately, it is scheduled to be demolished in the near future for a new development. The event at Bartlett Yard has been such a positive experience on so many levels. It was proof that there is a thriving arts scene here in Boston. It brought beauty to our neighborhood and brought people together. I've gained new friends and strengthened my ties to the community.
When I was short listed as one of the finalists for the Dudley Mural Design, I knew right away that I wanted to use the idea of a collaboration between Ricardo Gomez and myself as an inspiration for the mural. While working on my preliminary drawings, I've been studying the history of Dudley and Roxbury. I've come to learn quite a bit about my neighborhood. Since the proposed mural is for the central location for the Boston Public School Administration, I felt the content should contain an educational component. At the bottom of the mural will be a copy of The Liberator, the abolitionist newspaper founded by William LLoyd Garrison. Above this will be the elevated Orange Line coming through a tunnel into the foreground. The train coming through the abstracted black and white grounds is a reference to the underground railroad. Above, sitting on the beginnings of a hill is an abstraction of a building. The darker side of the building will be painted in Ferdinand Blue, a trademark of the historical building. And finally, in the sky will be the letters R-O-X in the Pan-African colors weaving through an abstraction of black and white stripes. My intention with the mural is pay homage to the history of Roxbury while also, through elements of style, to represent its current state of transformation.
Title: Roxbury Rhapsody
I have for over three decades conceived and fabricated a number of commissions that have enhanced the environments in which they are located. These projects have been both large and small. Some are in large transportation facilities, schools, board rooms, institutions and private homes. In addition to the afore mentioned, I have created works that address the public landscape where people just walk about and generally get on with their daily lives.
This project is compatible with my approach to public art as a vital element of the lived environment we call community. Process is as well extremely important. The creation of a work that will enrich and enliven the landscape in which it is located should engage the community residents from its inception to the unveiling. They are in fact the co-collaborators of this entire enterprise. I have always engaged as many individuals as have wished to participate in the creative process of concept to fabrication. Never has there been anything except a satisfying outcome.
Usually I seek to include individuals and institutions within the given community to review my conceptual ideas and from that generate possibilities of further conceptual development into a final project design. This may involve short workshops or projects with schools, discussions with businesses in the area of immediate impact, churches and civic organizations.
My overarching concern is to create a work that will inspire and enliven the community landscape, open the hearts and minds of the people of that community in such a manner that they sense an ownership of the entire process and the subsequent work. I endeavor to embody my work with what I call “Visual Music”: a syncopated rhapsody of colors shapes, symbols and rhythms that stimulate the senses.
The imagery of the mural will investigate several areas of emphasis:
1. Early history of Roxbury beginning in 1603
2. Boston School Dept. educational historical highlights
3. Significant persons-events-contemporary and historical
4. Train a couple of apprentices in my technique of enamel working
5. Train docents to conduct public PowerPoint presentations (studio-community)
6. Develop Art-Making class workbook for area schools or entire school dept. use.
Catalyst is a sculpture that creates a public space for pedestrian connection and neighborhood identity within the revitalized urban center of Dudley square in the form of a bold new shade canopy. Located at the intersection of Warren Street and the MBTA Dudley transit station, this new artwork announces the main pedestrian entrance to the Dudley Square Municipal Office Facility with an elegant figural form composed of richly detailed and handcrafted metalwork. Catalyst offers a space for the thousands of commuters passing through Dudley Square everyday to rest, watch and enjoy the everyday dance of the neighborhood.
The overall sculptural gesture is a response to both the flowing geometry of the new Municipal Office Facility and the energy of the existing transit station context. It is inspired by the energy of physical movement and pedestrian life of the neighborhood while simultaneously offering a place of rest to enjoy the space of the new entry plaza and Dudley Square.
The hand sculpted yet modern shade canopy is composed of thousands of elliptical metal rings of various size and shape that are individually formed and welded together to form a continuous flowing surface that is supported atop four figural columns at a height of fourteen feet above the plaza. The highly complex pattern of the canopy projects a composition of shadow over the plaza
that creates a sense of visual movement. This sense of movement is also echoed in the gestural forms of the four steel columns supports which twist as they rise through the canopy’s surface toward the sky.
Materials and Methods
The production techniques used to produce Catalyst require the skills and expertise of traditional metal craftwork as well as the aid of contemporary advances in digital design and fabrication. The overall sculptural form is generated and analyzed using digital modeling and engineering software, which in turn is used to create full-‐scale sculptural templates that craftsman work from to hand fabricate and assemble the finished metalwork components.
Catalyst’s canopy shells will be fabricated in large sections from half-‐inch thick aluminum plate that is water-‐jet cut into thousands of pattern shapes prior to welding. Column supports will be assembled and welded from tube steel sections based on pattern templates developed in collaboration with our structural engineer. Once final assembly and fabrication are complete, all sections of the sculpture will be finished in a two-‐part epoxy paint system and packaged for shipment to the site.
Catalyst provides for the opportunity to experience and enjoy a reenergized public space within the geographic center of Boston, while paying homage to the historic and cultural fabric of Dudley Square and Roxbury. It is hoped that the patterns of movement and connection exhibited within the sculptural composition of Catalyst will be interpreted as analogous to the diverse cultural fabric, energy and rich urban life of the neighborhood.
The center of my creative process was to distinguish the character of the Dudley Municipal Center. This is a place where lives are shaped in so many ways. The site has a rich history, and it is currently a major center for this entire area. As a community ‘center’ it should express an idealistic vision. The artwork I am proposing is timeless, warmly engaging, and poetically expressive of the nature of the institutions housed here.
The guiding principles for the design of the building were to be iconographic and inspirational, inclusive and collaborative for city workers and city residents, and strengthen the public realm; therefore, I wanted the art to be a monumental landmark, one that would draw people in from all over as a meeting place for the community to come together. Preserving the three building facades speaks to the future with fresh revitalization while honoring the past. These three historic buildings each have a story, and I wanted to create an environment where the community could stop, pause, and reflect about the history that encompasses this area as well as the future it holds. At the social heart of Roxbury, this functional installation creates a warm and friendly gathering place for everyone, facilitating an interactive environment that engages each viewer.
The shapes of the 2 grand figures (5’ x 8’ x 5’ each) are taken from the exaggerated geometric shapes that I have seen in the 3 Corners Village Concept. The triangular and round forms in the artwork are inspired by the shapes of the windows and the original buildings. The footprints of the large sculptures are in the shape of the symbol for Infinity, representing an infinite future, showing people young and old that their futures are unlimited. Ultimately, I named this installation ‘Infinity’. There are 5 additional figures representing our youth (6-7’ x 2’ x 2’ each). Their futures are infinite with possibilities and it all starts by becoming a part of the greater community.
The grand figures (the adults) are seated in a way that conveys being grounded; they are part of their environment. The five figures (the children) are standing, excited and curious. They seek the knowledge of these elders. The two large figures will offer seating opportunities, as they are being created in my ‘Bench People’ style, representing a male and female, and they are intended to show strength and character that the children can relate to. This installation is an innovative assemblage for the community to interact not only with fine art, but to engage in conversation and get to know one another in the community.
Stone evokes value, permanence, and a sense of honor in craftsmanship. There are exquisite examples of stonework in the historic portions of this old and new center. This artwork will continue that legacy and create a confluence with the contemporary materials behind it. Stone is an important element to this building, and stone sculpture is infinite in its history and future; it is timeless.
(The images are computer generated images of the model (not actual sculpture) placed in the site for reference only.)
Title: Crisscross Signal Spire
The Crisscross Signal Spire marks Dudley Square at an historic urban crossroads with a sculptural beacon which ties the past to the present at the Dudley Square Municipal Center. Taking its cues from the role of church spires and clock towers in the past which communicated and marked time through bell chimes or illuminated clock faces, the Crisscross Signal Spire creates a contemporary three dimensional signal which communicates various temporalities of the square, the city and its citizens. The spire uses real-time controllable lighting and digital interfaces to mark time, visualize transit flows in and out of Dudley Square, and express citizen engagement in Roxbury and throughout the city.
The structure of the spire is a “braided” array of tubes that weave together to create an expressive self-buttressing bundled tower. The converging and diverging structure evokes the imagery of a rail road crossing and the Boston T network, but it also acts as a vertical timeline telling the story of the City of Boston’s formation from three original towns to a city of 21 neighborhoods. At the center of this bundling of Boston’s neighborhoods sits Roxbury, one of the original towns, which speaks to its relationship and centrality to a larger metropolitan community. Crisscross Signal Spire projects this critical crossroads from the past and into the future of Boston’s growth, exchange, and movement and communication.
Historic structures such as church spires and clock towers mark centers and act as focal points for communities. From Paul Revere’s famous lanterns--“One if by land, and two if by sea”-- to the old John Hancock building whose weather-forecasting color light pattern and accompanying rhyme--“Steady Blue, Clear View, Flashing Blue, Clouds Due, Steady Red, Rain Ahead, Flashing Red, Snow Instead--creates a low-frequency visual broadcast, legible to all who see it and are able to decode its message, signalization is at the core of our city and its history. These local markers and the lore that surrounds them produce informational landmarks and communicative architectures in the city.
The Crisscross Signal Spire updates these early broadcast structures with digitally interactive lighting. The sculpture creates a 21st century signal tower by broadcasting information through one of three different patterns. In one, the sculpture marks time hourly through the pattern of light movement up and down the spire, acting like a digital hourglass. Second, data from MBTA’s Open API turns data into real-time lighting animations of transit activity and visual arrival announcements, creating a 4-dimensional light behavior. Third, the sculpture visualizes Citizen’s Connect data feeds, allowing each 311 call logged on the city’s database to appear as a flash of light as streetlights are fixed and streets are repaired in the abstracted neighborhood matrix of the bundled tubes. Seen in aggregate are the activities and desires of residents and the city’s daily efforts to improve it. Lastly, the sculpture could allow for direct user interface through a smart phone app or website.
The Crisscross Signal Spire creates a new beacon for the City of Boston and the neighborhood of Roxbury, creating a new focal point broadcasting, like the historic chimes of church bells, new signals from daily community activity mapped in a contemporary spatial and temporal landmark.
Wall Design presentations
Monday, January 20th, 6-8pm
Outdoor Sculpture presentations
Tuesday, January 21st, 6-8pm
Central Boston Elder Services
2315 Washington Street
Roxbury, MA 02119
Map of location: http://goo.gl/maps/2Yfai
Parking is available on the street or in the Taber lot.
Welcomes and introduction to project
First twenty-minute artist presentation
Ten-minute question and answer period from committee
Second twenty-minute artist presentation
Ten-minute question and answer period from committee
Third twenty-minute artist presentation
Ten-minute question and answer period from committee
Wrap-up and thanks
More about the project:
The Dudley Municipal Building is in the Dudley Station Historic District. The building design has been devised to physically incorporate the façades of three historic buildings while providing a contemporary framework. The new building will provide additional retail commerce opportunities while relocating the Boston Public Schools (BPS) administrative body to Roxbury. Dudley Square is the historical heart of Roxbury, and Roxbury is the geographic center of Boston. With its long history as a commercial and civic center, Dudley Square has a wealth of buildings with architectural and cultural significance and is a hub of mass transit. The purpose of the Dudley Municipal Office Facility has been to provide a catalyst for economic revitalization of Dudley Square by using the neighborhood’s past as a foundation to build its future.
The selection committee members:
Ted Landsmark, President at Boston Architectural College
Tyra Sidberry, advisor at Fund for Arts at the New England Foundation for the Arts
Barry Gaither, Director and Curator of the Museum of the National Center of Afro-American Artists
Pedro Alonzo, independent curator
Derek Lumpkins, Executive Director of Discover Roxbury
Myran Parker Brass, Eexecutive Director for the Arts for Boston Public Schools
Nick Brooks, Senior Associate, in representation of Sasaki Associates and Mecanoo
Joe Mulligan, Deputy Director, in representation of Property and Construction Management
Karin Goodfellow, Director, in representation of the Boston Art Commission
Image courtesy of Mecanoo Architecten