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OnlineMay 01, 2024

Now + There Changes Name to Boston Public Art Triennial and Announces Plans for a City-Wide Triennial in 2025

The public art organization revealed plans for next year’s triennial, including the lineup of local and internationally renowned artists.

News by BAR Editorial

A group of visitors and staff pose in front of a scene of buildings and a black and white checker board sidewalk design.

Visitors and Now + There staff in front of Juan Obando’s installation Summer Sets, on view at Dock Square in Boston in 2022. Photo courtesy of the Boston Public Art Triennial.

Now + There, the nonprofit that has produced over fifty public art installations across Boston since 2015, has announced it will now be known as the Boston Public Art Triennial. This transformation will result in a city-wide event—“The Triennial” for short—that will debut from May 22, 2025, through October 31, 2025. The plan includes producing fifteen new outdoor public art works in partnership with the City of Boston and dozens of smaller activations and public programs dotting neighborhoods across the city.

The name change was announced to Boston audiences on Tuesday evening at a private event held at Grace by Nia in the Seaport. “I believed there was an opportunity for our city—to make it more open, more vibrant, more equitable,” said founder and executive director Kate Gilbert in her opening remarks. Locations for the first Triennial are currently planned for East Boston, Roxbury, Dorchester, and Mattapan, neighborhoods that have been historically overlooked for major public art initiatives.

In addition to neighborhood activations, Gilbert announced partnerships with local institutions, including the ICA, the MFA, the MIT List Visual Arts Center, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, and the MassArt Art Museum.

Artistic director Pedro Alonzo and Tess Lukey (who is also associate curator of Native American art at the Trustees) will curate the 2025 Triennial, whose theme is “The Exchange.” Together, they will present projects that address social issues, such as equity, climate and biodiversity, and addiction and wellness.

A public art installation representing a volcano stands in a grassy, green park area, between trees.

Beatriz Cortez, Ilopango, the volcano that left, 2023, at Storm King NY. Photo by Jeffrey Jenkins. Courtesy of the Boston Public Art Triennial.

The initial lineup of artists has also been released and includes a welcome mix of internationally renowned artists, including Cannupa Hanska Luger, Julian Charrière, Beatriz Cortez, and Delcy Morelos, alongside Boston-based artists, including Gabriel Sosa and Stephen Hamilton. Three artists from the organization’s hallmark Accelerator program will also be included.

The Boston Public Art Triennial will join a small list of American “ennials” dedicated to public art—Counterpublic in St. Louis, Prospect in New Orleans, and Desert X in Palm Desert. Gilbert announced that as of this week, the organization has secured $8 million in funding for the Triennial.

Since 2015, Now + There has been producing temporary and site-specific public art works. Signature projects have included Graft by Edra Soto, a set of sculptures at Central Wharf Park inspired by the artist’s cultural memory of Puerto Rico, her homeland, and Breathe Life by Rob “Problak” Gibbs, a mural on the South End / Roxbury border celebrating happiness, hope, Black identity, and kinship. Programs like the Public Art Accelerator and Lot Lab, an outdoor “laboratory and exploration zone” for contemporary public art, will continue to happen next year.

An artist stands by a fence in front of a colorful mural, in the neighborhood of Dorchester.

Rob “Problak” Gibbs in front of Breathe Life, 2017. Photo by G. Ortiz Photography for Boston Art Review.

An aerial view of two vibrant public art works, featuring green letters made from plant life, in the shape of a circle.

Aerial view of Now + There’s 2023 Lot Lab installation, including Massiel Grullón’s ground mural Knotical Waves and Ghada Amer’s Women’s Qualities. Photo courtesy of Boston Public Art Triennial.

Executive director Kate Gilbert said that the seeds of the Boston Public Art Triennial were planted during COVID, inspired by “being cooped up in our homes during the time of lockdown and watching people interact with public art and the works we already had up.” She hopes that, with a concentrated time frame and “a handle that people can put their minds around,” the festival can draw even more locals and further energize the city.

Those wishing to experience Now + There’s projects soon will be able to participate in this year’s Lot Lab, held in Charlestown Navy Yard. In June, the program will explore the theme of “Presence,” emphasizing concepts of gathering, community, and being present for one another. The project will feature the works of three artists, Matthew Okazaki, Ifé Franklin, and Hugh Hayden. While Hayden’s public art was created in 2022, the other two are new commissions.

Gilbert said that she hopes the Triennial will help Boston become an even stronger public art destination. “We don’t have to play second fiddle to another city,” said Gilbert. “We have great institutions and great artists here, but we can also continue to host really thought-provoking and compelling exhibitions from outside artists.”

The full list of artists includes Beatriz Cortez (b. 1970, based in Los Angeles), Julian Charriére (b. 1987, based in Berlin), Adela Goldbard (b. 1979, based in Rhode Island and Mexico City), Stephen Hamilton (b. 1987, based in Boston), Cannupa Hanska Luger (b. 1979, based in New Mexico), Laura Lima (b. 1971, based in Rio de Janeiro), Ekene Ijeoma (b. 1985, based in Boston), Nicholas Galanin (b. 1979, based in Alaska) co-curated with MassArt Art Museum, Patrick Martinez (b. 1980, based in Los Angeles), Delcy Morelos (b. 1967, based in Bogotá), New Red Order (Adam Khalil, b. 1988; Zack Khalil, b. 1991; Jackson Polys, b. 1976; all based in New York; Kahilils from Watertown, MA), Gabriel Sosa (b. 1985, based in Boston), Lan Tuazon (b. 1976, based in Chicago), Swoon (b. 1977, based in New York). Three additional local artists will be selected to participate in the Triennial via an open call for the Triennial Accelerator program.

This article includes reporting by Shira Laucharoen, Jameson Johnson, and Jacquinn Sinclair

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