(Boston, Ma) A Boston organization is helping local artists get a leg up. Now and There is a public art curator that produces temporary and site-specific art throughout the city.
“Our mission is to foster artists and the public to create bold public art experiences that open minds, conversations, and spaces across Boston, resulting in a more open, equitable, and vibrant city,” their mission statement reads.
Now and There also strives to create a more equitable city through artwork.
“We give underrepresented artists a chance to showcase their art,” said Erin Sunderland, Communications Manager for Now and There. “And also, by virtue of it being public. We are putting that art in a place that is accessible to everyone. So sort of opening up spaces, opening up walls, putting things out in the open.”
Putting work out in the open can invite public scrutiny, but the organization believes firmly in freedom of speech and putting the vision of its artists first.
“The public artworks Now and There curates and produces for Boston may awe, illuminate, challenge, unsettle, confound, provoke, and, at times, offend,” their website reads. “If and when controversies arise from a work of art supported by Now and There, we welcome public discussion and debate. We believe communal conversation is integral to the experience of the art.”
The experience of art is an essential part of Now and There’s Accelerator program, a six-month, 14 session cohort that provides the local artists who are selected with a stipend to fund their projects as well as an opportunity to learn skills that may be valuable to their careers.
“It's an opportunity for them to learn from other artists in the region, from our executive director, and head curator,” Sunderland said. “We hold different sessions to talk about things like budgeting and marketing, things that would be helpful to artists entering into the public art space. It’s for early to mid-career artists or someone who really hasn't done any public art before.”
Now and There is also partnering with Greater Grove Hall Main Streets for a program called “Mentoring Murals.” The program invites established Black Roxbury and Dorchester artists to select a younger artist to work with. Together they co-create a temporary, printed mural to be mounted on a frame and displayed on a wall in the Grove Hall, Dorchester neighborhood.
Their first project called “No Strings Detached” by artists Paul Goodnight and Larry Pierce will be unveiled today at 5 p.m. It will be featured on the side of Breezes Laundromat at 345 Blue Hill Ave. in the Grove Hall.
“It’s a really great project that we’re super proud of,” Sunderland said.
“It’s about movement, it’s about joy, it’s about the neighborhood,” Goodnight said in a video promoting the event. “When you do a mural it's not for you, it’s for the people who live in that space.”
Public art has recently come into the spotlight in Boston. On May 20 , Acting Mayor Kim Janey, in collaboration with the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture, Boston Parks Department and the Mayor’s Office of New Urban Mechanics, announced a “Joy Agenda” for Boston.
The agenda is described as “a city-wide invitation, opportunity, and investment in our collective well being.” The city is accepting applications for its 2021 Transformative Public Art Program as part of the initiative.
“After over a year of incredible hardships caused by COVID-19 and acts of violence against communities of color across the country, we’re looking at ways we can foster an equitable recovery that allows all residents of Boston to thrive,” said Mayor Janey last month. “We believe that by emphasizing the power of joy in healing and growth, we’ll be able to come back together as a stronger, more welcoming city.”