Brutalist Crush: Explore Boston’s Concrete Architecture with this New Map

Brutalist Boston Map

The Brutalist Boston Map everyone has been waiting for, is finally here. And by “everyone,” I mean those with even the slightest interest in the concrete architecture of the sixties and seventies in Boston.

Written and edited by Mark Pasnik, Chris Grimley and Michael Kubo—the authors behind Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston, the critically acclaimed monograph that historicizes Boston City Hall and many of the buildings built around its time. The new Brutalist Boston map, published by Blue Crow Media—an independent publisher based in London—is the latest map in the publisher’s series of maps highlighting brutalist architecture around the world.

The map features more than 40 buildings found in and around Boston, including perhaps the city’s most famous building: Boston City Hall by Kallmann, McKinnell and Knowles. Le Corbusier’s only building in North America, the Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts at Harvard University is also featured.

You can purchase a copy of the Brutalist Boston Map here, or in person at the launch at pinkcomma gallery in the South End on Tuesday August 1, 6-9pm.

Images courtesy of Blue Crow Media.

Librería Donceles, A Brilliant and Uplifting Installation at Urbano Project

It’s been a while since I’ve written anything for anyone, let alone for this blog. I intended to publish shortly after the election of Donald Trump, but felt that no post—regardless of how good I felt about it—was worthy of being published. It goes without saying that the times we’re currently living in, are dark and terrifying. The anti-immigrant, white-nationalist rhetoric that launched the political career of Donald Trump has exposed many ugly truths about our society. While many of us continue to be in shock following the events of November 8, many more are determined to continue fighting for equal rights, liberty and justice for all.

It’s fitting that the first post of 2017 on The Evolving Critic is about Librería Donceles—an installation by Pablo Helguera currently on view at The Urbano Project in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood.

Practicing within the realm of performance, visual art, community outreach and social activism, Mr. Helguera conceived Librería Donceles as a socially engaging, part-functioning used bookstore and part-installation that aims at fostering a greater sense of community and cultural understanding in Boston. It also simultaneously exposes the social and economic inequalities that continue to plague Spanish-speaking, tax-paying New Americans in the United States.

The installation—brilliant and uplifting in so many ways—comprises of more than 10,000 used books in Spanish in all subjects, from the arts to travel and everything in between. Titled after Calle Donceles, a street in the historic quarters of Mexico City, Librería Donceles has been—until April 22nd—the only Spanish language bookstore in the City of Boston and the only I’ve ever been to in the United States.

Pablo Helguera performes at Libreria Donceles opening night at Project Urbano

Pablo Helguera performes at Libreria Donceles opening night at Project Urbano. Photo Courtesy of the Urbano Project.

Begun in 2013 in Brooklyn, New York, the project has gone through several iterations and has been installed in Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, Indianapolis and finally, Boston. Those who visit the installation have access to all the books and events associated with it, regardless of income or socio-economic status. Those who wish to make a purchase are asked to limit it to one book per visit and donate what they wish for it. The funds collected through the sale of books will go towards Urbano’s arts education and social justice programs, something everyone should stand behind.

To further drive the point that bookstores are the pillars of communities, one of the most important components of Librería Donceles are its salon-like gatherings that bring members of the community together around conversations and workshops that foster and encourage social activism and tolerance. These community gatherings are what make this installation by Mr. Helguera one of the most powerful I’ve experienced in recent memory.

On the day I visited Librería Donceles, an intimate group of people gathered to hear poet and Wellesley College professor Majorie Agosín and her colleague Chris Mollica discuss among many things, the role poetry plays in our lives and the importance of listening to one another.

Librería Donceles reminds us all that celebrating our diversity and humanity, matters now more than ever in these uncertain times. Rather than focusing on building walls and closing our minds, we should focus on engaging and celebrating the many ways that make each and every one of us, human.

Libreria Donceles Helguera

Photo Courtesy: The Urbano Project


Libreria Donceles. Photo Courtesy: The Urbano Project.

Urbano is open Monday through Friday 1-6pm; Saturday 10am-2pm or by appointment. 29 Germania Street, Jamaica Plain, MA, 02130.

Finally, the Challenge Has Been Accepted. 16 Boston-area Museums Swap Instagram Accounts for One Day.


This past February, I blogged about 18 New York City museums who swapped Instagram accounts for one day with the goal of not only highlighting each other’s collection and architecture, but also introducing another institution to their audience—all this while having fun. In that same blog post, I wondered what it would be like if Boston-area museums organized their own #museuminstaswap and showed their social media followers that museums in Boston can also have fun.

Boston museums have come a long way since publishing that post. Historic New England began to embrace Instagram as a tool with which they can engage with an audience unfamiliar with their house museums. On a similar note, the Museum of Fine Arts has not only stepped up their Twitter game, but has even gone as far as inviting guest Instagrammers to take over their account for special events and openings, adding someone else’s perspective of the museum and its patrons.

This is great and all, but the best news for Gardner Museum lovers came in March when I wrote about the Museum’s newly enacted, but very confusing photo policy. I urged the Gardner Museum to clarify their policy for the sake of their visitors’ experience and to my surprise (and many of my followers on social media), in less than a week after publishing the post, the Gardner Museum rewrote their photography policy and began allowing photos throughout the museum.

While Boston-area museums were continuing to engage with their followers on social media, it wasn’t until June when 12 Los Angeles museums switched Instagram accounts that I lovingly reminded Boston museums that a #museuminstaswap needed to happen.


And then it all began to take shape.



On Thursday December 1st, 16 museums in the Boston area have swapped Instagram accounts for one day to share the collections, stories and make connections from the North Shore to the South Shore, from the eastern to western part of the Commonwealth. And here we are.

In the Boston iteration of #museuminstaswap, the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston has taken over the John F. Kennedy Library and Museum, The Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum will be Instagramming on behalf of the Boston Children’s Museum (this is perfect in so many ways) and the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem with will take over the MIT Museum. Other swaps include Historic New England with the Harvard Art Museums which will in turn take over the USS Constitution Museum in Charlestown.

Show us what you got, Boston. Follow along #MuseumInstaSwap and #BostonInstaSwap on Instagram.

Evolving Critic


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