Summer Arts Preview: Visual Arts

Exploring the season’s best in visual arts by bike, train, boat and car

By Bike

This summer, the Rose Kennedy Greenway is lit—and no, we’re not talking about the return of Trillium’s beer garden. GLOW stars eight of local collector Dave Waller’s vintage neon signs salvaged from Massachusetts landmarks, illuminated daily from 8 am till 10 pm between India and State Streets. Check out a 1925 art deco General Electric Radio piece that—just two years after neon signs started making their way from Paris to the U.S.—once hung along Roxbury’s Blue Hill Avenue. June is even brighter with the arrival of Transition, an interactive commission from Luftwerk duo Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero, which takes inspiration from the Big Dig and I-93’s tunnel system lights. Somerville artist Anne Lilly also lightens things up when she installs Temple of Mnemon, a kinetic mirror work that comments on individuals’ places within a community.

By Boat

Warka Water Tower prototype

Beginning May 26, Peabody Essex Museum will be full of pure inspiration. In addition to mixed-media sculptures, installations and drawings that answer nature’s call, Wild Designs highlights two dozen natural-born prototypes and projects, from Swiss engineer George de Mestral’s burrs-inspired Velcro—which struck him while hiking with his dog—to another sticky engineering feat from the minds of UMass Amherst researchers: Geckskin, an adhesive based on geckos’ toe pads. Breathe in a plant-based air purifier sprung from NASA research or drink in a moisture-collecting Warka Water Tower that creates potable H2O from thin air. Taking a cue from Namibian desert beetles, designer Arturo Vittori’s invention can save rural communities hours of trekking to find the nearest water source.

By Car

Photo credit: Courtesy of 303 Gallery

Curator Pedro Alonzo—whose resume includes putting together the first Rose Kennedy Greenway mural and organizing French artist JR’s 2015 installation on the side of the former John Hancock building—continues the Trustees’ Art and the Landscape initiative with Alicja Kwade’s TunnelTeller. The Berlin-based artist’s first solo commissioned work in the U.S. gains ground at the Crane Estate at Castle Hill through April 2019; and it’s another first for the Trustees, this being its inaugural commission for a property once owned by an early-20th-century plumbing magnate who often collaborated with artists. Kwade’s reality-altering work spans a spinning clock in Central Park, a mirror installation at 2017’s Venice Biennale and this concrete-and-steel work, inspired by the national landmark’s former hedge maze, that offers views of Cape Ann and Crane Beach.


By Train


DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum once again stages its outdoor Platform series, beginning with Saul Melman’s Best of All Possible Worlds, which recreates the footprint of his Brooklyn apartment using translucent replicas of doors placed along an east-west axis to capture the sunlight. That’s currently joined by Nari Ward’s G.O.A.T., three concrete-cast lawn ornaments with discarded sneakers, fire hoses and other found objects that reference the racial and political aspects of athletes and music stars dubbed the Greatest of All Time. And before upcoming projects by Nancy Winship Milliken and others appear later this summer, Josephine Halvorson branches out with Measure, a 24-foot plank of wood the Boston University professor painted after she came upon a fallen tree near her western Massachusetts studio.

Summer Arts Preview: Visual Arts Q&A


Read our Summer Arts Preview Q&A with the Museum of Fine Art’s Chair of Art of Europe Frederick Ilchman on the debut of Casanova’s Europe: Art, Pleasure and Power in the 18th Century on July 8.




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