Fort Point and Seaport Neighborhood Forum on the Arts, Culture and Planning at the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston
The neighborhood forum of Boston’s historic Fort Point and the Seaport District at the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) on October 22, 2015 focussed on the arts, culture and planning. The event was organized by Mayor Walsh’s administration in partnership with the Fort Point Arts Community, the Institute of Contemporary Art and the Urban Culture Institute.
The Fort Point and Seaport Forum brought together leaders, residents, artists and professionals from Fort Point and the Seaport as well as from other Boston communities for an informal conversation on neighborhood life and planning initiatives of the City of Boston.
ICA Executive Director Jill Medvedow welcomed the speakers and attendees, followed by a brief overview of ICA history and programs. This important cultural institution with a 80-year history moved to the waterfront in 2006. Contemporary art in all media—visual arts, performance, film, video, and literature—and educational programs foster an appreciation for contemporary art.
Jen Mecca, Chair of the Board of Directors introduced the Fort Point Arts Community (FPAC). Founded in 1980, FPAC has developed three artist live/work buildings at 249 A Street and at 300 Summer Street as well as the Midway Studios on Channel Center Street. FPAC hosted the 36th Annual Open Studios in October, complemented by two other open studio weekends every year in the spring and during the holiday season. FPAC also operates the FPAC Gallery, the Made in Fort Point artist store, and offers numerous other programs.
Christina Lanzl, co-founder of the Urban Culture Institute, gave an overview of her 20-year history in Fort Point and highlighted current projects in partnership with the City of
Boston, the MBTA and FPAC. She then introduced the speakers and facilitated the question-and-answer session following the presentations.
City of Boston presenters were Julie Burros, Chief of Arts and Culture, John Fitzgerald, Deputy Director of Imagine Boston 2030, and Rich McGuinness, Deputy Director of Waterfront Planning. The speakers introduced their plans and vision for Fort Point and the Seaport, followed by a discussion with attendees. The goal of the forum was to engage a group of
diverse community members for a joint conversation and to
further communications within the area and with the City administration. It also provided an opportunity for residents of both historic Fort Point and the emerging Seaport to meet each other.
Richard McGuinness shared his current work on the downtown waterfront and his insights on the series of planning projects he completed for the Boston Redevelopment Authority in Fort Point and the Seaport from 2000 to 2015. He concluded his remarks with lessons learned and inspirations drawn from a recently completed research trip to Seattle.
Julie Burros gave an update on the ongoing Boston Creates city-wide cultural plan, which is expected to build a shared vision for arts and culture for the first time in the city's history. Of note are her plans to update the BRA's Artist Certification program and to increase the number of artist housing units. To bolster the capacity of the office of Arts and Culture, a new planner has been added to the team in October 2015.
John Fitzgerald, the Deputy Director of Imagine Boston 2030, introduced the recently launched municipal urban design plan. The City's last master plan was completed 50 years ago. A robust community participation process is part of this initiative, similar to the cultural plan process.
Many thanks to the hosts and presenters, as well as Kelly Gifford and Kate Shamon of the ICA and Urban Culture Institute Fellows, Thu Ngan Han and Hilary Buskirk of Stantec.
The City of Boston is the proud home to one of the oldest public schools in the country: the Mather School. This exciting Green Space Improvement Project will result in the creation of a permanent public art installation with surrounding landscape improvements. The permanent project will be located at the Church Street entrance of the building. The area is highly visible, very active and serves as an important bridge between the school and the surrounding neighborhood. The aim of the project is to transform the existing greenspace and its surroundings into a more welcoming, comfortable public site and functional school entrance.
A search to find artists/designers for this project is currently underway. Artists, designers or teams comprised of an artist and a landscape architect are invited to forward their qualifications for this exciting public art and improvement project by May 22nd. As this is a historic site with many uses, collaborative teams of artists and landscape architects or a landscape architect with expertise in public art are particularly encouraged to apply. Preference will be given to local and regional applications.
This project is a collaborative effort between the City of Boston's Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust (BF), the Boston Art Commission (BAC), the Boston Public School Department, the Mather School Parent Council, and the Art Selection Committee of the Green Space Improvement Project. Christina Lanzl of the Urban Culture Institute is facilitating the project.
A $200,000 budget is anticipated. The project will be funded in part by the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust Fund, a public charitable trust administered by the City of Boston Trust Office. Three shortlisted finalists will receive $3,000 honoraria for initial concept development and presentation.
Deadline for submission of qualifications is May 22, 2015 at 1:59pm EST. The full Request for Qualifications (RFQ) can be downloaded here. Contact Christina Lanzl, Urban Culture Institute, with questions related to the project.
Having lived in the northern parts of the world, some of my best memories are of delicious summer picnics at scenic locales with friends or family. Of course, ants and other critters can overshadow these outdoor idylls, turning mishaps into anecdotes, retold as memorable stories at future occasions. My passion for eating outdoors stems in part from the depravations of the urban dweller lacking the amenities of a balcony, patio or garden. Hence, being invited to a potluck dinner at Open Room Austin by Susan Lambe and her team at Art in Public Places during a visit was a dream come true.
On approach, the spot's visual stimuli triggered many wonderful associations. I reveled in richly layered memories of childhood years spent in the verdant Bavarian countryside, visualizing our family home’s big garden and my grandfather’s farm orchard, where we picked fruits and berries all summer. To this day, I relish the inimitable taste of freshly picked, sun-warm strawberries, raspberries, gooseberries, and boysenberries or, roaming through the forest to pick wild blueberries for cakes and baking, lingonberries for preserves and chanterelles for dinner. Climbing up trees, I savored the crisp apples, juicy plums, pears and delicious cherries – my favorite – straight from the branches. Or how about those first radishes pulled from the ground and the carrots washed in the rain barrel for immediate consumption? There’s nothing like it.
These thoughts passed through my mind as I was entering Austin’s well-appointed, public living room in a small park, surrounded by young trees that have to grow for another decade before casting shade on hot days. Having chosen the amenities of the city, the cultural richness and urban creativity over my former rural existence, I cherished this possibility of sharing a comfortable outdoor experience with others.
Like a scene out of a fairytale, a long dining table covered with a white lace tablecloth invites to be seated. Fabricated in powder-coated steel, the delicate fabric being frozen in rigid metal adds to its wonder and charm. At the four corners of this imaginary room, elegant, seven-arm chandeliers in matching color frame the ensemble. Realized by Miami-based artists Rosario Marquardt and Roberto Behar, the design responds to my own perpetual desire to find harmony and sense of place. This surely is a setting I want to revisit over and over again, probably like many neighbors and out-of-town visitors who happen upon the Open Room in this newly built park next to a new neighborhood on the north side of Austin’s Lady Bird Lake. If Open Room was mine, the only thing I would add is a little hedge or a white picket fence at the park’s edge for more comfort and as delineation for passing traffic.
On this balmy, early winter evening the warming rays of the Texas sun provide perfect outdoor conditions for a social gathering. About twenty artists, architects, planners and residents had followed the invitation to join this evening of food and conversation hosted in my honor. Two photographers capture the scene, Philip Rogers is one of them, a brilliant photographer known for his portraits of artists, on leave from his native Maine over the winter. As I look at the faces in his photos, I fondly remember our shared stories of successes and challenges similar to those of other cities I traveled to.
Two artists at the table recently designed bike racks, engendering Austin’s reputation as a forward thinking city that supports sustainable and creative life styles, while fostering innovation in design, public health and leisure activities. A muralist looks to work on more public art commissions. Concern is voiced over an ongoing public debate questioning the expense of a public art commission in the form of a security wall at the nearby electrical substation. With the richness of conversation, the potluck dishes in the center of the table remain mostly untouched until someone begins passing a few bowls. Eating seems less important, here and now, though someone tells of recent barbeque feasts.
As the sinking sun paints a glowing sky, our conversation turns to quiet reverie. A vivid palette ranging from deep orange to lavender marks the end of the day. Birds are singing their last evening song. Calm and gratitude for this lavish display of nature makes me feel at peace with the universe. The air turns chilly, so we bade our goodbyes, feeling richer and happier for what we shared.
Urban Culture Institute
The Urban Culture Institute works to promote excellence in culture, planning and strategies for the public realm.