In a Blow to the Boston Arts Scene, The Boston Globe Cuts Back on Its Arts Reporting

As the saying goes, another one bites the dust. As if this week couldn’t get any worse, on Tuesday June 14, we learned that pages from the arts section of the Boston Globe were being cut and that freelance critics will no longer write art, music, theater and dance reviews for the paper. Long-time Globe art critic Cate McQuaid posted this news to her Facebook page and mentioned that she “will be writing a short review of one gallery show each week.” The review will be published in Friday’s paper, instead of Wednesday as usual. McQuaid also wrote that she will still be writing feature stories about art.


This is really disappointing news coming from the Boston Globe given the enthusiasm around the Boston Creates plan which outlines the city’s newly found commitment to the arts. With the dwindling of arts coverage in Boston, so does the quality of the work being produced here. And as Cate McQuaid mentioned, this means that smaller venues will get less coverage because of this decision, limiting the coverage to the big museums and productions.

Thankfully, we still have WBUR’s The ARTery as well as a handful of local art blogs, including The Arts Fuse, The Evolving Critic and Big Red & Shiny to pick up the pieces left by the Boston Globe, but this is really unfortunate.

Citing Serious Financial Shortfalls, the American Textile History Museum Will Close Forever

Unfortunately, the American Textile History Museum in Lowell has announced it will be closing its doors permanently citing “a significant financial deficit.”

In November 2015, the museum announced that it would be closing its doors to undergo a “significant transformation.” From the press release sent in November, it was unclear when the museum would open its doors again or exactly how large was the budget deficit. In that same announcement trustees of the museum had announced a new fundraising campaign that would allow the institution to open in a much leaner and stronger phase.

Sadly, this morning we’ve learned that the American Textile Museum will close its doors forever. “This was a very difficult decision for all involved and certainly not the outcome we had hoped and worked for. However, due to serious operational challenges and financial shortfalls, our Board of Trustees has realized that this is the only responsible option,” read an email sent to friends and colleagues of the museum by ATHM Board of Trustees Chair Matthew Coggins, and Todd Smith, Interim Executive Director.

The museum has begun the process of transferring their collections to other organizations and is asking for donations to ensure that their renown collection is well taken care of. This is a huge loss for the people of Lowell and the State of Massachusetts since the American Textile History Museums boasted of one of the finest collections of textiles and related objects in the United States.

More details will be available on the museum’s website in the coming days and months.

PHOTOS: Among the Majestic Oaks and Azaleas at the Arnold Arboretum, John Luther Adams’ “Inuksuit” Lifts the Human Spirit

Sunday June 12, 2016 was a day we will never forget. Waking up to the horrific news that fifty people were shot dead at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida felt like having been hit in the gut for hours and hours without stop. While details of the unspeakable events that transpired in Orlando were still unfolding, many Bostonians experienced the premiere of John Luther Adams’Inuksuit, an outdoor performance consisting of 92 percussionists with 650 instruments that was sure to lift everyone’s spirits.

Performed on a stunning pre-Summer—albeit chilly for June—day at the Arnold Arboretum in Jamaica Plain, the Boston premiere of Inuksuit was organized by Kadence Arts in collaboration with the Arboretum. Directed by Maria Finkelmeier and Amy Garapic, the work for percussion ensemble brought together musicians from across the United States and the world, who for 75 minutes used conch shells, gongs, maracas, air horns, drums, sirens, cymbals and glockenspiels to create sounds that simultaneously harmonized and clashed with one another.

The work, which was designed to “heighten awareness of the sights and sounds that surround us every day,” took place among the Arboretum’s Oak and Azalea Collection—one of my favorite areas of the Arboretum for its proximity to the Explorer’s Garden, Birch and the world renowned Lilac Collection. Meditative at times and energizing in others, participants in the Boston presentation of this work were encouraged to walk throughout the entire Oak and Azalea Collection to form a personal connection to the work and the natural beauty of the arboretum.

The roaring wind, the birds chirping and the chit-chatter of those in attendance made for a magical afternoon among the tall oaks and the azaleas. I got there early, roamed around for a bit, took lots of photos and saw many familiar faces among the hundreds of people in attendance. It is has widely been written that nature and music have many healing properties, especially when combined as in John Luther Adams’ work Inuksuit. In context to the events of Sunday morning, Luther Adams’ work gained a new layer of meaning and those of us in attendance have started the healing process with nature and music.

All photos by the author.

Inuksuit (27)

Inuksuit (23)

Inuksuit (22)

Inuksuit (29)

Inuksuit (24)

Inuksuit (1)

Inuksuit (2)

Inuksuit (3)

Inuksuit (4)

Inuksuit (5)

Inuksuit (6)

Inuksuit (7)

Inuksuit (9)

Inuksuit (10)

Inuksuit (11)

Inuksuit (12)

Inuksuit (13)

Inuksuit (14)

Inuksuit (15)

Inuksuit (16)

Inuksuit (17)

Inuksuit (18)

Inuksuit (19)

Inuksuit (20)

Inuksuit (21)

Inuksuit (25)

Inuksuit (26)

Inuksuit (28)

Inuksuit (30)

Inuksuit (31)

Inuksuit (32)

Inuksuit (33)

Inuksuit (34)

Inuksuit (35)

Inuksuit (36)

Inuksuit (37)

Inuksuit (38)

Inuksuit (39)

Inuksuit (40)

Inuksuit (41)

Inuksuit (42)

Inuksuit (43)

Inuksuit (44)

Inuksuit (45)

Inuksuit (48)
















Exploring the Landscapes and Structures of Boston with Common Boston

As I wrote last week, Common Boston held its first “open house” festival in Boston this past weekend and I had to take part in it. The format for this year’s festival was different than anything the organization had ever done before and while I had seen all but three of the buildings on this year’s list, I still opted to explore buildings and the landscapes I was already familiar with. I wanted a fresh take on the landscapes that have come to define the cities of Boston and Brookline, especially those landscapes designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and his firm.

From Dorchester where I live—just two blocks away from Olmsted’s crowning jewel in Boston, Franklin Park—I boarded two buses and a Green Line trolley and walked up a hill in a neighborhood of Brookline once part of Boston. Walking up Cypress Street and Warren Street in the Green Hill section of Brookline, I was reminded of how important the elements of anticipation and surprise are in the landscapes designed by the Olmsted firm. While those streets mentioned above with their Colonial Revival, Shingle Style and Arts and Crafts houses were not designed by the Olmsted firm, their picturesque vistas definitely contribute to the anticipation and eventually, the grand reveal of Fairsted, the Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site.

The last time I visited Fairsted was in 2009 and the landscape and the 1810 farmhouse were undergoing an extensive restoration. I didn’t get to see as much as I would have liked, since my visit was part of a class I was taking at that time at Boston University. As of 2014, the home and studio of one of the country’s most influential landscape designers is once again open to the public with guided and self-guided tours that offer a fresh perspective on the work of Frederick Law Olmsted.

Rather than take a left on Walnut Street as my Google Maps app instructed me to, I took a right to see the Principal Gatehouse—a two-story Renaissance Revival structure flanking the northern-most point of the Brookline Reservoir. The reservoir was constructed in 1848 by the City of Boston as part of its public water supply and the structure has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Its stonework—according to the nomination report for designation as National Historic Landmark—recalls the work executed under architects Solomon Willard, Alexander Parris and Gridley J. F. Bryant.


Principal Gatehouse in Brookline, MA. Photo by the author.

After spending a few minutes looking at the Principal Gatehouse, I headed back up Warren Street on my way to the Olmsted National Historic Site. After a ten-minute walk and after much anticipation, I came upon Fairsted. Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. purchased the 1810 farmhouse in 1883 and moved from New York City to Brookline, at the recommendation of his friend and frequent collaborator Henry Hobson Richardson—the famed architect behind Trinity Church in the City of Boston. A rustic arch welcomes visitors to Fairsted and hints at what lies ahead, by framing not the house and studio, but a turn-around for carriages. This leads to not only the house, but to one of the more prominent features of the landscape: the rustic scenery that extends as far as the eye can see. Depending on the direction one takes, either the house is revealed first, or the Hollow (more on this in a bit), the Rock Garden or the South Lawn.


Fairsted, The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA. Photo by the author.


Fairsted, The Frederick Law Olmsted National Historic Site, Brookline, MA. Photo by the author.

If one bears right after passing through the rustic arch and walks down the steps on the far right, one enters a part of the landscape known as The Hollow—a sunken corner that is “a miniature version of the lyrical and naturalistic ‘secret gardens’ Olmsted used in his designs for larger parks.”


The Hollow. Photo by the author.


The Hollow. Photo by the author.


The Hollow. Photo by the author.

Other parts of the landscape at Fairsted include a Rock Garden located in a shady, secluded woodland and the South Lawn, a broad meadow that was once an apple orchard when Olmsted purchased the property. On that same section of the landscape was a barn, which was moved in order to reshape, grade and replant the space to how we experience it today.


The South Lawn. Photo by the author.


The South Lawn. Photo by the author.

As a #HistoricHouseCrush fanatic, the wallpaper caught my eye:


Instagram photo by the author.

After the Olmsted National Historic Site, I meandered down Warren Street and to the Back Bay Fens, specifically, the Fenway Victory Gardens.

The Fenway Victory Gardens are one of my favorite spots in Boston to walk around and admire the many plants and flowers grown by almost 500 community gardeners that have a plot here. Part of Olmsted’s Emerald Necklace, this landscape features several structures of historic and architectural significance like the Boylston Street Bridge by Henry Hobson Richardson as well as a nearby pump house also designed by Richardson. The pump house has been rehabilitated and is now the visitor center for the Emerald Necklace Conservancy.


The Emerald Necklace, overlooking the Muddy River. Photo by the author.


The Fenway Victory Gardens. Photo by the author.


The Fenway Victory Gardens. Photo by the author.


The Fenway Victory Gardens. Photo by the author.


The Boylston Street Bridge, Henry Hobson Richardson. Instagram photo by the author.

Finally, after talking to some gardeners and admiring the many plants in bloom, I continued down on Boylston Street and stopped at the Boston Architectural College—one of my favorite Heroic buildings in the city. The College’s main building was completed in 1964 and designed by Ashley, Myer & Associates and even on a rainy day, it is nothing short of stunning. The design competition for both the Boston Architectural College and Boston City Hall were subjects of a terrific exhibition on view in the same building this past Spring.


The Boston Architectural College, built in 1964. Ashley, Myer & Associates. Instagram photo by the author.


The Boston Architectural College, built in 1964. Ashley, Myer & Associates. Instagram photo by the author.