This spring the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, stewards of one of Boston’s most innovative parks, will look to up the open space’s creative chops by suspending a piece of aerial art directly above it.
Last June we reported that the New England Foundation for the arts helped scrape together funding for an art installment made of fiber and knots created by Janet Echelman.
In late February, the Conservancy hosted a public hearing to let Bostonians know that the project is steadily being brought into fruition.
Echelman’s lofty project isn’t one Boston is used to seeing. Sure the city is privy to its fair share of modern art, and even has a museum dedicated to the style, but for the most part Boston’s art scene is dominated by bronze statues of patriotic figures and granite busts of revolutionary moments.
Her project is more dextrous and interpretive. The best way to think of the sculpture is that it’s a massive mesh fabric hung above the Greenway that’s illuminated with lights the colors of which essentially run the spectrum. It will flutter whimsically in the wind and showcase different hues during various parts of the day while being hung above the middling section of the park.
What makes Echelman’s project truly innovative is the size and scale of the installment itself, and the success Echelman has seen with similar variations in cities around the globe.
“Here in Boston, I’m excited to visually knit together the fabric of the city with art,” said Echelman in a statement last year. “The creation of the Greenway was a seminal event in the unfolding of our city, so I’m delighted and humbled to be a part of its transformation into a vibrant cultural destination.”
If all goes according to plan, suggested Greenway personnel in February’s meeting, Echelman’s art could be installed in early-to-mid May.
Between now and then, however, one might argue that the actual assembly of the work is an art in and of itself.
The piece will have to be suspended from hooks attached to some of downtown Boston’s more towering buildings. And, of course, these buildings will have to be evaluated to be sure they provide enough structural support – approximately 200 to 300 pounds of hanging net per primary spanning rope.
Existing lampposts, too, will have to be outfitted with the new lighting fixtures without interfering with its function already. The lamps work on a timing system so that they automatically turn on and off during a certain time of day or night. Disrupting this in any way could pose traffic and, more importantly, public safety issues.
It doesn’t help, either, that there’s still frustrating amounts of snow on the ground and rush hour traffic is as congested as ever.
But once the attachments are put into place, and the lighting deemed sufficient and safe, the net portion of the sculpture will be hoisted into the air using ropes, cranes and lifts – a surefire spectacle in its own right.
Equally as exciting, if not more, is the added dimension the project will provide for programming. Food trucks will congregate, the carousel will be revolving, performances will be held and meet ups will take place, all beneath a dynamic piece of art.