Boston artists were hitting the drawing board this week as the deadline loomed for a spot on the long and windy space that’s quickly becoming center stage for Boston’s blossoming public art scene: The Rose Kennedy Greenway.
The 1.5-mile-long, 7-year-old green area on the spot that was a pre-Big Dig expressway has lots of art on its resume, including the provocative Dewey Square murals, the massive multicolored aerial sculpture by Brookline's Janet Echelman and a rotating menu of installations.
Out-of-towners make up a big chunk of that work, but the Greenway is now turning its attention hyper-local with a call-out to Massachusetts-only artists. Up to five will be selected to show off their work in the space and given a $5,000-$10,000 budget. Submissions for the project, called “The Local,” are due Monday.
“We should be showing off our local talent that is here,” said Lucas Cowan, the Greenway's public art curator.
Public art has been percolating in Boston for years, but artists told Metro the city’s new efforts over the past few years — making permitting for art easier, for example — has brought more chances than ever to make a splash in the Hub right out in the open. Area artists said they were eager to take advantage of the Greenway’s high-traffic real estate while excitement around public art in the city gains steam.
“It’s kind of addictive, the energy when something goes up in the public realm,” said Gianna Stewart, a 25-year-old recent graduate of the Museum of Fine Arts School. “Boston just seems to kind of have a spark right now.”
Stewart, who recently installed a piece called “Toll With Me” – 8,500 bells tied to a chain-link fence – on A Street, said she hasn’t settled on an idea yet.
“Details get hammered out at the last minute,” she said.
Arty veterans are also competing for a spot, among them couple Michael Moss and Claudia Ravaschiere, Boston public art co-conspirators for more than a decade.
They’ve had work featured around the city and were the pair behind “Shimmer,” the colorful plexiglass panels that were on the Congress Street Bridge last year. This weekend, they’re installing a piece under a pergola at Atlantic Wharf. It features glowing orbs and it’s called “Celestial.”
Even with all that going on, Ravaschiere was walking around the Greenway on Wednesday, taking pictures and dreaming up an artistic pitch for the couple to draft and submit by Monday — a lot to juggle, she said, but it’s exciting, if intimidating, to have so many opportunities all at once.
“You have to be nimble as a public artist,” Ravaschiere said. “I liken it to rock climbing. The fear drives you up the face of the rock.”
At the same time, the Greenway has put out a nationwide call for art submissions to a monkey-themed Zodiac exhibit in Chinatown.
But there are no limits on what artists can submit for “The Local,” said Cowan. Anything from photography to sculpture to painting to light shows, or whatever else Massachusetts can come up with, is all fair game.
“Really we’re looking for engaging pieces of artwork, so please just encourage everyone to apply.”