Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy Announces 2018 Public Art Installations

The Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy has announced a slate of artists and artworks focused on light-based installations and interactive experiences that showcase the rapidly evolving concept of light and art in many forms.

The Greenway will exhibit eight historic Massachusetts neon signs, an interactive LED light-based piece commissioned from Luftwerk, and a kinetic sculpture commissioned from local artist Anne Lilly. These projects represent an array of cultures, perspectives, and artistic styles, appealing to a wide range of audiences in this free, accessible and outdoor exhibit that stretches across a four-block section of The Greenway (Oliver to State streets).

“These installations will appeal to a diverse range of audiences” offered Jesse Brackenbury, Greenway Conservancy executive director. ”We encourage visitors to come for one of our 400 free events and stay into the evening for the light-based artworks and our beer gardens.”

A focus of the exhibit will be the installation of eight historic neon signs owned by Malden-based collector Dave Waller, which will be installed during the first half of May on The Greenway near the Rings Fountain, between India and State streets. Waller’s vintage neon signs, from local businesses c.1925-1970, serve as an illuminated monument to the neighborhoods, businesses, and everyday lives of our recent past. Many of the signs in the exhibit were once iconic landmarks in communities that have changed dramatically due to urban renewal, shifting demographics and gentrification. By exhibiting these signs together and amidst The Greenway’s permanent Light Blades, the Conservancy is creating a new geography of light.

“In placing these signs together in a contemporary urban park in Boston, we’re inviting the public to reinterpret these signs and reconsider how neon, as well as other kinds of light, can define public space,” said Lucas Cowan, Greenway public art curator.

Luftwerk’s artwork called “Transition” (to be located between Oliver Street and High Street), takes its inspiration from the I-93 tunnel system lights and the history of the Big Dig. A series of meandering wire frames shine a tunnel of light along the path in the park. Unlike the elevated highway that once divided the city, “Transition” welcomes and invites connectivity, allowing for access as a procession through and on the path. Illuminating the Rose Kennedy Greenway and its importance to connectivity and growth in the city, it celebrates the green space that has reunited the neighborhoods that were once divided.

The Conservancy commissioned Anne Lilly’s “Temple of Mnemon,” which will be installed on The Greenway just south of India Street. “Temple of Mnemon” is part of Lilly’s series of mirror-works that probe self-perception and the construction of being and otherness. In addition to the artworks, the Greenway Conservancy will hold a free panel discussion about

light, and art, and livable cities. Architectural historian and GLOW consultant Victoria Solan will engage in dialogue with contemporary practitioners, such as historians, staff of the Neon Museum in Las Vegas and contemporary artists who works with other forms of light. The event, in partnership with the Boston Center for the Arts (539 Tremont St.), will take place on July 12.

Also, through the Conservancy’s third partnership with Lesley Art and Design, the college will present neon signs with Cambridge ties, also from the collection of Dave Waller. The satellite exhibition at the Lunder Arts Center runs concurrent to the Greenway’s curatorial concept GLOW.

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