One of the best things about working in travel for me is the opportunity I get with my work to visit new, interesting, historic, unique, and exciting places. Sometimes the places are distant countries with incredible locations to explore and at other times I get to visit areas that have long been on my wish list. Boston is one of the former types of places and I was thrilled to hear that it was on my list of cities to explore for the Art on the Road project from SpringHill Suites.
Boston and my hometown of Montreal share a lot of history and one heck of a hockey team rivalry as well. I’ve always considered Boston to be one of Montreal’s sister cities since they have so much in common, so it was nice to finally get the chance to explore the city. Getting a chance to visit Beantown, discover the art scene, catch up with some friends, and photograph some of the cool iconic Boston areas made for a wonderful time on my first visit here. While I still have not fulfilled my childhood dream of seeing a baseball game at Fenway Park, I can always come back and use that as just one excuse to re-visit one of America’s most interesting cities.
On my first day I met up with renowned local landscape artist Joseph McGurl at Fort Revere Park to take his portrait and talk about his career as an artist. The setting was pure New England and made a perfect backdrop for Joseph’s portrait. The sky was full of billowing clouds, the sea was teeming with sailboats, and Joseph was already busy at work painting a new canvas when I arrived. The painting that he was working on had a very sepia monochromatic look to it and this is what influenced me to add the same type of colour (or lack of) to Joseph’s portrait.
There is a tradition of art in the McGurl family. Joseph’s father James was also a painter who had a deep influence on his son. As Joseph described his dad and all the different types of art that he was proficient in, it was easy to see that the father played a significant role in moulding his son’s career as an artist. The apples most certainly do not fall far from the tree in the McGurl family and Joseph’s children are both pursuing careers in the arts today.
Boston and Ireland have deep ties that date back centuries. The term Irish-American and Boston will always be interwoven since so many Irish immigrants chose the city to start a new life in. Today over thirty million Americans can trace their roots back to the Emerald Isle. In fact, the total population of modern day Ireland is only one sixth that of the number of Americans with Irish roots.
After a good breakfast and several cups of coffee to to start the day, I headed out on the road in search of public art and some cool locations that in a glance will make one think of Boston. Thanks to advice from Randy, Beth, and Kate, as well as my Twitter followers I had a good idea where I was going. I started the day exploring the deCordova Sculpture Park just outside of Boston and was even treated to a fun display of giant bubble art. There were several fascinated young children in the park being entertained by a man who was creating these amazing bubbles of all shapes and sizes. As you can see in the photo, the kids were enthralled and I had a huge grin on my face as I observed them having the time of their life chasing and popping the soapy orbs as they floated by. I kind of felt like a kid myself for a brief time, as I too got lost in the moment. To me these huge bubbles are temporary or momentary art and I think the children would agree.
Moving on into the city, I stopped a few times along the way to photograph some stunning murals, then finally arrived at the more somber and sobering statue dedicated to the memory of the Irish Famine from the mid 1800s. The hours of the day were melting away and I wanted to be sure to get to one special place to capture another incredible New England summer sunset. There is no better place to do just that than the Massachusetts State House. Once again the sky was filled with a variety of clouds that were perfect for capturing the shades orange and yellow as the sun slowly dipped below the horizon.
One more shot to go! That seems to be a phrase I use a lot when I’m on the road on a photo shoot. I never want the days to end, but they must. The best way to feel a sense of finality to a day for me is to pick one last “hero” location to photograph. In this case I chose the Ray and Maria Stata Center that was designed for the Massachusetts Institute of Technology by world famous Canadian architect Frank Gehry. Architecture for me is such a wonderful form of art and the blend of form and function makes it perhaps the most challenging of art forms. Gehry is one of the best of all time and his buildings are masterpieces as I’m sure you’ll agree. This building in particular came alive at night with the mixture of artificial illumination that cast different shades of colour on the various surfaces of the building.
The night ended when an MIT student stopped to chat with me and tried to take a photo of the building herself. She was having trouble getting a nice shot and I took a moment to lend a hand by helping her adjust the camera to the proper settings. To see the expression on her face go from disappointed to happy within a few minutes made my day. What a nice way to end the first leg of Art on the Road.
On the flight home I was treated to a nice view of the city from my window seat and had my own happy look on my face as I could now look forward to the next stops on my list.
Thanks Boston and see you soon Seattle and New York City!