The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum have collaboratively organized a temporary public art project for Boston's Rose Kennedy Greenway. Urban Garden is a group exhibition of contemporary outdoor sculpture, curated by deCordova's Deputy Director for Curatorial Affairs Nick Capasso, on display on Parcel 21 of the Greenway's Fort Point Channel Parks, between Pearl and Congress Streets. Urban Garden is made possible thanks to the generous support of Boston Properties, and in collaboration with the City of Boston and the Boston Public Arts Commission. The exhibition is free and open to the public from summer 2011 into October 2012. Urban Garden is intended as a pilot program to further encourage contemporary public art on the Greenway and in the City of Boston; to serve as a model for future cultural collaborations between the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy and other non-profit instutitions; and to stimulate corporate support for future endeavors.
Urban Garden features the work of James Surls, Tom Otterness, and John Ruppert. The final selection of works was based on scale, variety of materials (steel, bronze, aluminum), and range of aesthetic approaches. The sculptures all reference botanical forms—trees, flowers, vines, and vegetables. Surls' Walking Flower Times the Power of Five—the largest of the three sculptures—is located in the center of the lawn, oriented toward the main pedestrian approach from the southwest. It references the circular shape of the lawn and the site’s curving pathways and landscape contours. Otterness' Tree of Knowledge is located in close proximity to the pedestrian path to allow close inspection of its animal actors. Ruppert’s Pumpkin Series is arranged toward the south end of the lawn, “scattered” in a way to suggest an actual pumpkin patch.
About the Rose Kennedy Greenway
The Rose Kennedy Greenway is a ribbon of contemporary urban parks that connects people and the city by providing beauty, fun, and a sense of community in Boston. Now, four of Boston’s most diverse and dynamic neighborhoods – formerly divided by a massive structure of steel and asphalt – are linked by beautifully landscaped parks, gardens, and plazas and reconnected with the harbor. For more information, visit www.rosekennedygreenway.org.
The Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion
The Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion, located on the Rose Kennedy Greenway, was created to welcome visitors to the Boston Harbor Islands national park area. In the evening, video programming will be shown on two 8 x 10 foot LED screens, transforming the Pavilion into a compelling destination.
To begin a series of future commissioned video installations, deCordova's Associate Curator for Contemporary Art, Dina Deitsch, has guest-curated a video program called Nature Special, that features five videos about our mediated relationship to the great outdoors by artists Jim Campbell, Sam Easterson, William Lamson, and Suara Welitoff.
Nature Special will be on view in the Boston Harbor Islands Pavilion each evening, and features work that presents the natural world through the mediating lens of the camera. The videos in this program underscore a more common interaction with nature—through the screen—not unlike our favorite television nature specials. The Boston Harbor Islands, in contrast, offer a rare, unmediated experience of the natural world, framed, not by roads or the television monitor, but by water.
Click on the arrow for stills from Nature Special and images of the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion.
Please see the Bio tab for information on the featured artists:
In Wall Works, six artists were invited to create site-specific wall installations in response to the Museum’s collection of modern and contemporary American art. In preparation for the exhibition, artists Kysa Johnson, Natalie Lanese, Caleb Neelon, Alison Owen, Justin Richel, and Mary Temple trolled the Museum’s database of 3,500 objects and selected an artwork to serve as a source of inspiration for their proposed “wall work.” The artists identified artworks that resonated with their varied interests and aesthetics and have consequently assembled an eclectic assortment of objects from deCordova’s collection. Sited both in the gallery and the Museum’s Café, these new installations reflect each artist’s own practice while creatively engaging the Permanent Collection as an educational, historical, and inspirational entity.
Additionally, the artists reference longstanding artistic traditions of working directly on the wall. Caleb Neelon’s piece draws on the history of slogans through street art, placards, bumper stickers, and buttons in his graphic portrayal of the visual language of political activism. Alison Owen’s subtle investigation of space emerges from the conceptual practice of Sol LeWitt’s architectural wall drawings, while Natalie Lanese’s pop-tastic assemblage refers to the tradition of murals as narrative epics. Justin Richel’s delicately rendered sweets and Kysa Johnson’s dense chalk drawings on blackboard call upon early fresco techniques, whereas Mary Temple’s use of the wall as conduit speaks to the history of site-specific artwork.
Wall Works is part of a new initiative to rethink Permanent Collection exhibitions at deCordova. This “artist as curator” project invites the artists to curate their own exhibitions from the institutional vault, mining the collection for new relationships and meaning. By illuminating both the unique holdings of deCordova and the work of the participating artists, Wall Works aims to create a new space for dialogue between the collection and contemporary art practice.
Participate in Wall Works! Share "someone else's secret" by completing the "Secret" form and have it included and performed in Mary Temple's site-specific, sound piece Someone Else's Secret. (Form no longer available.)
Watch Natalie Lanese as she creates her installation, "Retro Future" for Wall Works.
Ursula von Rydingsvard works on a monumental scale. For over thirty years, she has worked with red cedar, a soft and fragrant wood. Using both carving and construction techniques she painstakingly cuts, assembles, and glues the cedar beams which have been shaped by a circular saw. In a final, unifying action, von Rydingsvard rubs the sharply textured, exposed surfaces with graphite powder to create works of enormous grandeur and stirring intimacy.
Built slowly and incrementally from thousands of small cedar blocks, each work reveals the mark of the artist’s hand, her respect for physical labor, and deep trust of intuitive process. Her signature shapes are abstract yet refer to things in the real world from the modest to the majestic. These forms typically suggest domestic objects such as spoons, plates, and bowls; shovels, axes and other farm tools; women’s bonnets and lace collars; and vernacular architecture including barns, barracks, and fences. Her work also evokes great natural forms, from a craggy cliff side to a deep canyon, and phenomena, such as the forces of wind and water or the formation of the earth’s strata. Von Rydingsvard consistently endows each sculpture with tremendous dignity. In her hands, familiar forms become archetypal objects.
Von Rydingsvard regards her connection to wood as part of her history. She comes from a long line of Polish peasant farmers for whom wood provided basic shelter and tools to work the land. Her characteristic form is the bowl in its simplicity and variety. It appears in her work as a wide, shallow basin whose physical gravity recalls the Ocean Floor (1996); and as the five voluptuous bowls that comprise Krasavica II (1998-2001), Ukrainian for a beautiful young woman, whose overall shape conveys a fluid sense of movement despite its weighty volume. In von Rydingsvard’s work a pair of huge, wall-mounted plates may weep (Weeping Plates, 2005), and the enormous, horizontal, torqued shape of Droga (2009), or bride’s veil, undulates across the floor as the artist makes cedar flow like soft fabric. In sculptures filled with contradiction, the artist succeeds in expressing something raw and elemental with remarkable sophistication and grace.
Helaine Posner, Guest Curator
This traveling exhibition was organized by SculptureCenter in Long Island City, New York and guest curated by Helaine Posner. The exhibition and its tour are made possible with the support of the Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and Agnes Gund.
Ursula von Rydingsvard was the 2008 recipient of the Rappaport Prize.
British sculptor Andy Goldsworthy may well be the world’s best-known and most beloved contemporary artist. Since the late 1970s, he has traveled to sites across the globe to create an immense body of work made primarily with natural materials, among them sticks and branches, flowers and leaves, mud and stone, and rain and snow. Some of these sculptures are ephemeral, gossamer and delicate, and last only moments. Others tend towards permanence and are built of stone and based on pre-industrial architectural forms. Goldsworthy’s many and disparate works are united by their profound and multifaceted dialogues with geometry, nature, place, ritual, labor, and time expressed along several vectors: actual, experiential, seasonal, geological, historical, and cosmological.
While Goldsworthy’s most familiar works are made of wood, stone, and leaves, snow has been a vital material for his practice since the very beginning of his career. The artist is fascinated by snow as both a natural phenomenon and a sculptural material. He takes special interest in its complexity, and explains “…it is in the nature of snow to contradict. It turns the dark earth white – it can fall softly, or with a vigour that hurts. It is at the same time tough, gentle, dangerous, delicate, powerful, and hard.”
This exhibition brings together a small cross-section of Goldsworthy’s work with this frozen precipitate. Included are several photographs of snow-related projects; two large snowball drawings, created by the residue left behind by the melting of dirty, gritty, New York City street snowballs; and the video Shadow Stone Fold, in which the artist performs in real time with snow falling gently on a massive stone at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in England.
In preparation for Goldsworthy's large-scale Sculpture Park installation, Snow House, the exhibition will include the original proposal drawings for Snow House, Goldsworthy's video artwork Snow Shadow, photographs of related ephemeral and permanent artworks, multi-media educational materials about the artist, and the historical relevance of Snow House, as well as repeated showings of the award-winning documentary on Goldsworthy, Rivers and Tides: Andy Goldsworthy Working with Time.
This exhibition provides context for a future Andy Goldsworthy outdoor installation in the Sculpture Park.
Lucien Aigner (pronounced "aye-gner") was a pioneering photojournalist in the 1920s and 1930s whose 'photo stories' (several prints on one theme with Aigner's own accompanying text) place him in a unique and important role in the history of photojournalism. Aigner worked for many of the same periodicals as better-known peers such as Robert Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Alfred Eisenstaedt, and André Kertész, but stood apart from this illustrious group because he wrote his own articles and captions—in addition to taking his pictures—at a time when few photographers did so.
Aigner was born in Hungary in 1901 and worked throughout Europe and the United States as a photojournalist for many photo-illustrated magazines. He moved to New York City to avoid the threat of World War II, and restarted his career in America in the 1940s by changing his visual style to cater to American editors' tastes. He obtained work with important U.S. publications, but in the 1950s left New York for Great Barrington, Massachusetts, which effectively turned the spotlight off his photoreporting career. He opened a photo studio there, and although he enjoyed a brief resurgence of publicity later in life, Aigner remains under-recognized today. Like better-known colleagues such as Eisenstaedt and Capa, Aigner contributed significantly to the development of modern photojournalism and the acceptance of the candid news photograph. To the reading audience and magazine editors of the time, a quick shot of an important news event was better than no image at all. The visual quality of these photographs varied—at times gritty, grainy, or blurry—but they bore important, and sometimes the only, witness to a given situation. Because of the groundbreaking photographs captured by Aigner and his peers, such images are the norm in photojournalism today.
This exhibition is organized by guest curator Jennifer Uhrhane, an independent art consultant and curator.
DeCordova is grateful to Lucien Aigner's children—Anne-Marie Aigner, John P. Aigner, Steven A. Aigner, and Katherine Aigner Collins—for their help and enthusiasm for preserving their father's work and legacy.
Lucien Aigner: Photo/Story is funded, in part, by generous grants from the Lois and Richard England Family Foundation and the Land Fund.