BSLA Fieldbook Archive - Page 24

Contemporary and Temporary Greenway Art LAURA JASINSKI Janet Echelman’s billowing sculpture As If It Were Already Here may have been raised over the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway overnight, but the arrival of six cranes and over fifty workers to the site at midnight on May 3, 2015 was the product of years of planning and preparation. The groundwork for changing the Boston skyline was laid in the winter of 2011-2012, long before the nonprofit Greenway Conservancy—established by state statute to manage and improve the park—had earned the full confidence of its various stakeholders. In many ways, building a public art program was the natural next step in a series of Conservancyled efforts to activate Boston’s newest civic space. By 2012, the Conservancy had transitioned from producing a small collection of large annual events to creating a model for hosting hundreds of events planned by third-party partners with Conservancy marketing, permitting, and operational support. That effort, combined with the flourishing organic horticulture program and a Greenway Mobile Eats food truck program that pioneered the industry in Boston, resulted in explosive growth in the quantity, quality, and diversity of programming on The Greenway. The level of increased activity primed the landscape for its next layer of activation: contemporary public art. The Conservancy then engaged consultants and the community to develop a fiveyear public art strategy for the corridor through a series of public meetings and stakeholder interviews. The object was to create the criteria around which public art projects would be selected to enliven The Greenway. At the core of this criteria was the concept that for the foreseeable future all public art installations along the corridor would be contemporary and temporary. The first qualifier, focusing on contemporary art, was important for distinguishing The Greenway from Boston’s beloved historic parks like the Boston Common, Public Garden, and Emerald Necklace. The temporary nature of each project builds an inherent sense of urgency into each, driving visitors to The Greenway to see installations before their time runs out while also reducing the costs of long-term conservation and maintenance. Perhaps most importantly, impermanency provides flexibility for The Greenway to evolve alongside its neighbors as they redevelop and adjust to abutting a park rather than an elevated highway. From this baseline, four frameworks were established to guide the curation of each project: 1) increasing connection among the diverse communities along the Greenway district by using art to promote placemaking; 2) encouraging interactivity between park visitors by engaging them ABOVE One of the piers from Landing Studio’s Marginal installation in the foreground and Grove by GLD in the background. 22 BSLA