Culture Tap

Coming out of the Boston Center for the Arts after seeing the excellent play Tribes, I came across the temporary art installation called “Culture Tap”.  The set of two industrial-looking orange boxes allow you to use your CharlieCard to hear recorded stories of South End residents during the day and see a light show at night.  Each unique card ID should produce different stories and lighting.  The pieces were created by artists Dan Sternof Beyer and Bevan Weissman of New American Public Art, an artist collaborative which aims to elevate public art to “a community-based process of dialogue, involvement, participation and interaction.”

CultureTap

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Boston Fashion Week: ICA First Fridays – Fall Fashion

As Boston Fashion Week starts to wrap up, I brought two of my colleagues to the Institute of Contemporary Art’s First Friday Event – a monthly event included in my membership – which was fashion-themed this month.  The lobby turns into a lounge where guests can turn in a drink ticket for a beer or cocktail from a sponsoring brand – this time it was Boston-based Harpoon – and mingle while checking out the changing lobby exhibition which is usually gargantuan in size.

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The galleries, café and gift shop are open during the entire event (no food or drink up in the galleries though).  After a quick tour of the new temporary exhibits (my friends were not impressed), we headed to the Barbara Lee Family Foundation Theater for the main event.  First there was a clip from the Artist Talk series with Proenza Schouler, which had taken place the week before, talking about how they got started in fashion.  Next, Boston Globe style columnist Christopher Muther gave a talk accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation about fall fashion trends.  Eh.

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After this was the “alternative” fashion show from Louis Boston.  The shades on the windows of the theater (which I didn’t even know were there) were raised opening up a 270˚ view of the harbor which was fantastic.  Out came seeming non-models to EDM who one-by-one walked aggressively/weirdly down the catwalk showing some edgy streetwear-type clothing.  I suppose the “alternative” part truly came when they all reappeared and broke into dance – and then we realized they were dancers rather than models and the way they had been previously walking now made sense with that context.

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It was alright but each segment of this presentation seemed unrelated so the audience was left looking at each other quizzically at the breaks.  Last year’s was better when they showed outfits with an MC who gave commentary.

My ensemble for the evening consisted of 3 used Ebay purchases and a recycled-materials hand bag. I paired DKNY camo skinny jeans with a raw-edged tweed Banana Republic blazer.

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For accessories, I wore the Cole Haan Sawyer short boots previously mentioned and the Francisca Pop Top Evening Bag by Escama Studios handmade from recycled aluminum can pull tabs by an artist cooperative in Brazil.

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Excursion to Princeton

A recent business trip brought me to Cranbury Township, NJ.  There not being much in the way of lodging in the township itself, led me to seek a hotel in Princeton.  I spent two years studying in NJ years ago, but at the time I never made journey south to see Princeton.  Luckily my business ended early enough in the day to check things out.  To get from the train station to the center of town requires a bit of work if you want to avoid a cab.  There is a short (2-car) connector train from the Princeton Junction Amatrk/NJ Transit station that winds closer to town.  From there it is about a 15-min walk which is not very comfortable with luggage or heels.  The downtown is very quaint and picturesque with the university campus sprawling next to clothing stores, trinket shops, pubs and restaurants.  Many stores sell locally made jewelry and craft items.  Below are a few suggestions for the eco-conscious visitor.

Princeton University Art Museum
Browse through Princeton’s collections covering virtually every time period and region for free.

 

Green Design
42 Witherspoon St
This eco-goods store sells quirky gifts and household items.  They also provide recycling services for hard-to-recycle products.

 

Infini-T Café
4 Hulfish St
This tea house/vegetarian café is open from breakfast until midnight.

 

Copper River Salon & Spa
6 Moore St
Full menu of services at a salon that prides itself on “earth-friendly” products, low-energy usage and recycling.  Day Spa Magazine reviewed the salon including more details on their eco-philosophy.

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Public Art Stroll

It has been said that Boston has a dearth of public art and what there is sprinkled about appeals more to residents from prior centuries.  The Boston Art Commission (BAC) is responsible for approving all new works of public art.  One analysis of the BAC’s Public Art Walk – a map of 100 works to view from the North End through the Back Bay – notes that the majority of sculptures commemorate events or people prior to 1950 and only 32 are non-historic  in subject.  There have been calls to start redefining Boston’s public art spaces away from the bronze statues and plaques that have dominated over the last century.  The significance of promoting new works of public art lies in the ability of these pieces to establish a stronger connection with contemporaneous society.  The themes and aesthetics of artists today resonate with us as public viewers today.  Bound up with the work itself is the environment in which it is placed.  Connection to the art then results in a connection to the location.  Disconnection from the natural environment is among the many reasons to explain apathy towards environmental issues.  Busy lives spent in cars or other modes of transit make it easy to barely notice our surroundings much less feel an emotional connection.  Although rural settings typically come to mind when we think of threats to the environment, urban areas are just as vulnerable, especially low-lying cities like Boston.  A striking installation of art meaningful to the public has the potential to increase the bond between viewer and space, and can perhaps start to overcome some of the apathy.

To this end, I spent a Sunday afternoon checking out two temporary sculpture exhibits: Convergence by the Boston Sculptors Gallery and the travelling exhibit Cool GlobesHappily, more such projects are on the horizon to hit our streets and lure passersby.

With pieces spread throughout the Christian Science Center, Convergence is a mix of eclectic styles of monumental proportions celebrating the 20th anniversary of the gallery.  Some of the works appear so naturally situated it’s as if they were always there.  The artists’ intentions are gracefully described by co-founder Murray Dewart: “We plant our sculptures in the ground and watch the seasons change around them. Their work is to humanize the sometimes anonymous and commercial urban landscape. Some sculptures tell stories, reminding us of our ancestors and of our origins. Some sculptures manage magically to restore silence to the world and thereby yield a vision of peace. Sculptures stay in the world being looked at, not like movies and plays that leave town, or books that go back on the shelf, more like flowers in the public garden, vulnerable in their beauty, easy prey to thoughtlessness, but they can burn with their own curious moral authority and generosity of spirit, reminding us of what matters most, what we hold most sacred. They help us face the irrationality of the world. They help us find courage…”

 

Cool Globes: Hot Ideas for a Cooler Planet has been shown in different cities around the world since 2007.  Dozens of spheres five-feet in diameter artistically render solutions to combat climate change and other environmental problems.  Along with the pieces making up the traveling exhibit are those made by locals including artists and school children.  Most are lining the Tremont street side of Boston Common and others are located in Copley Square, the Esplanade and Logan Airport.  Brightly colored and employing an amazing range of materials, the exhibit is infused with an irreverence and positivity that is unusual for the sobering subject matter.

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