Public art is one of Boston’s biggest draws when it comes to inexpensive things to do in town. There are hundreds of pieces strewn across the city for those who know where to look. Some are obvious and others are subtly tucked away on the facades of buildings or in the very sidewalks of the city. The best pieces are unusual, skillfully done and/or represent something important. Look around whenever walking through the city or take a tour to find the hidden gems.
Paint And Henry By Deborah Butterfield
Copley Plaza Mall
Dartmouth St. and Stuart St.
Boston, MA 02116
www.publicartboston.comPaint and Henry is a strange abstract bronze sculpture of two horses. The inspiration behind the piece is the establishment of Neiman Marcus in Texas. The horses and Texas go together, but it really doesn’t say much about retail. What makes it special isn’t its tenuous allusion to a retail chain, but the horses themselves. One is a sad creature, looking almost as if it is a decaying piece of history standing in the grass of a modern plaza. The other looks fierce and perhaps alien. Together, they are among the best art in the city.
George Robert White Memorial By Daniel Chester French
Forest Hills Cemetery
95 Forest Hills Ave.
Boston, MA 02130
www.publicartboston.comThe George Robert White Memorial is a classic bronze and granite statue of an angel. It balances on a small pedestal at the rim of a fountain made of the same materials. The angel is spreading bread out into the water in a reenactment of the Biblical quote “cast thy bread upon the waters.” It is a tribute to a wealthy philanthropist who not only donated to institutions of art and health during his life, but left millions to beautify the city upon his death. French is also responsible for the massive statue of Abraham Lincoln in Washington, D.C.
Related: Boston’s Best Art Walks
Post Office Square Park
Intersection of Congress St. and Milk St.
Boston, MA 02110
www.publicartboston.comHaving been erected in 1992, Immanent Circumstance is one of the city’s newer art installations. It is a sculptural fountain that is minimalist in design. When the water isn’t flowing, it is a simple circular glass structure. The water flows out of the top and into the center, adding a bit more dimension. The fountain sits within a brick pool and is a popular place for visitors to sit and have lunch during the work week.
Bronze Panels By Thomas M. James
Between 75 and 101 Franklin St.
Boston, MA 02110
www.publicartboston.comThe Franklin St. building upon which there are original Thomas M. James bronze relief sculptures is private, but anyone can see the beautiful pieces from the road. The art deco panels date back to 1929 and feature a variety of scenes representing human accomplishment. There are sailors, aviators, farmers and more glinting in the sun above and below the building’s windows. The building features other works of art to admire, but these are the most eye-catching.
Massachusetts Fallen Firefighters Memorial By Robert Shure
Massachusetts State House
24 Beacon St.
Boston, MA 01233
www.publicartboston.comLike every state, the safety of Massachusetts’ inhabitants sometimes depends on its firefighters. In the process of protecting its citizens, these men and women sometimes perish in fires or as a result of their jobs. This stunning sculpture by Robert Shue captures the heroism, harrowing experiences and teamwork of the firefighters Massachusetts has lost. The bronze statue features men in their firefighting uniforms fighting a fire. It also features a ring of bricks with the names of the fallen and the Prayer and Bell.
Shelly Barclay is a professional freelance writer and amateur author. She writes on a variety of topics from food to mysteries. She loves to share the culture and rich history of her birthplace and home, Boston, with the rest of the world. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.