Support the news

Our Guide: Giant Art Festival On Boston Harbor Islands Opens This Weekend

U-Haul box trucks loaded with art were barged out to Georges Island last week for the Isles Arts Initiative. (Amy Archambault)
U-Haul box trucks loaded with art were barged out to Georges Island last week for the Isles Arts Initiative. (Amy Archambault)

Last week, a group of artists loaded a trio of U-Haul box trucks onto a barge and set sail for Georges Island. They were the vanguard of the Isles Arts Initiative, a public art expo on and about the Boston Harbor Islands that launches this weekend.

For “Cove,” the art collective Middle Kingdom (Alexander DeMaria and Jamie Horgan) has installed a windmill atop Georges Island’s old powder house to power a giant music box that plays at the changing speed of the wind “giving the climate of the island a spooky voice inside the dark and virtually windowless interior of the building.” (Courtesy)
For “Cove,” the art collective Middle Kingdom (Alexander DeMaria and Jamie Horgan) has installed a windmill atop Georges Island’s old powder house to power a giant music box that plays at the changing speed of the wind “giving the climate of the island a spooky voice inside the dark and virtually windowless interior of the building.” (Courtesy)

The goals, says lead organizer Elizabeth Devlin, are “making art accessible and seeing the islands in a new way.”

Over the rest of the summer, Georges Island will host a giant windmill-powered music box, videos and wooden monsters.

On Spectacle Island, they’ll present performance art each Saturday, plus a day of music concluding with a parade.

Complementing the art on the islands are exhibitions on the mainland—at Atlantic Wharf Gallery, Boston Sculptors Gallery, the Boston Children’s Museum and the WGBH video wall. This is all in collaboration with Boston Harbor Island Alliance, Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, National Park Service, Greenovate Boston and the Boston Art Commission. (WBUR is a media partner.)

“The history of the islands are not really widely known,” Devlin notes. They’ve been home to casinos, hotels, military bases, rendering plants, prisons. “They each have such a weird, bizarre, interesting, different history.”

The Harbor Islands caught Devlin’s fancy when she first moved to Boston and was living in the North End. “I used to go out there all the time,” she says. “A lot of people haven’t been, have wanted to go, don’t know about it. It’s exciting. It’s like we’re unlocking this new space.”

“Everybody has a metaphorical boat,” says Elizabeth Keithline, whose “Two Boats: One For You, One For Me” is on view in “Cove” on Georges Island. “Sometimes we pass each other rowing in the opposite direction and we can't quite connect. And sometimes we're traveling the same way and arrive on a beautiful island at the same time.” (Courtesy)
“Everybody has a metaphorical boat,” says Elizabeth Keithline, whose “Two Boats: One For You, One For Me” is on view in “Cove” on Georges Island. “Sometimes we pass each other rowing in the opposite direction and we can't quite connect. And sometimes we're traveling the same way and arrive on a beautiful island at the same time.” (Courtesy)

How to get to the islands:

Boston Harbor Cruises leaves from Boston’s Long Wharf (at State Street) daily during daylight hours. Tickets for adults are $17. The Highland Street Foundation will cover the cost as part of their Free Fun Fridays on Friday, Aug. 7.

What to see:

Amy Archambault artwork is on view in “Cove” on Georges Island. (Courtesy)
Amy Archambault artwork is on view in “Cove” on Georges Island. (Courtesy)

“Cove,” Georges Island, July 11 to Aug. 26.
Eleven artists or collectives install a giant windmill-powered music box, sculptures, videos and giant wooden creatures in Fort Warren (which defended the harbor from 1861 through the end of World War II) and around this 41-acre island.

Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow performs "Gypsies' Picnic: The veins of Oya was always here" at Spectacle Island on Aug. 8 as part of “seen/unseen.” Inspired by “the kitsch style of the artist’s grandmother’s kitchen, the Jamaican marketplace, and Chinese Lazy Susans,” she wears a large dress stitched together from vinyl tablecloths and invites visitors “to partake in the communal event of picnicking on her dress.” (Courtesy)
Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow performs "Gypsies' Picnic: The veins of Oya was always here" at Spectacle Island on Aug. 8 as part of “seen/unseen.” Inspired by “the kitsch style of the artist’s grandmother’s kitchen, the Jamaican marketplace, and Chinese Lazy Susans,” she wears a large dress stitched together from vinyl tablecloths and invites visitors “to partake in the communal event of picnicking on her dress.” (Courtesy)

“seen/unseen,” Spectacle Island, Saturdays from July 11 to Aug. 22. 
A performance art series, curated by Alice Vogler and Vela Phelan, featuring 12 artists or collectives, including Marilyn Arsem, Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow, Dirk Adams, Daniel S. Deluca and Maria Molteni.

The rules: “Each artist will come over on the first ferry and leave on the last ferry on their chosen day. Artists can only bring/use what they can carry over on the ferry. … The theme will be commitment."

Silas Finch’s “Limulidae,” an assemblage of “naturally interlocking horseshoe crab sections held together by vintage drawer handles,” is on view in “Islands On the Edge” at Atlantic Wharf Gallery. (Courtesy)
Silas Finch’s “Limulidae,” an assemblage of “naturally interlocking horseshoe crab sections held together by vintage drawer handles,” is on view in “Islands On the Edge” at Atlantic Wharf Gallery. (Courtesy)

“Islands On the Edge,” Atlantic Wharf Gallery, 290 Congress St., Boston, through Sept. 26.
A group exhibition, juried by Devlin, addressing the theme of the Harbor islands as the literal and metaphorical “fringe of society."

“Isle de Monstruos Newsstand” at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center, introduces the !nd!v!duals Collective’s scavenger hunt for characters that they say “will be running amuck” on Georges Island. (Courtesy)
“Isle de Monstruos Newsstand” at the Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center, introduces the !nd!v!duals Collective’s scavenger hunt for characters that they say “will be running amuck” on Georges Island. (Courtesy)

“Isle de Monstruos Newsstand,” Boston Harbor Islands Welcome Center, 191 Atlantic Ave., Boston, through Aug. 30.
“Nobody fully knows why the military evacuated [Georges Island] in 1947 or why it lay dormant for over a decade... until now.” An introduction to the !nd!v!duals Collective’s scavenger hunt (maps provided) on Georges Island looking for “chameleon-like creatures that could hide by changing color to perfectly blend into the fort walls.” Devlin says, “They’re riffing off the islands' history and adding this fantasy narrative.”

Megan and Murray McMillan’s “This Land is a Ship at Sea.” (Courtesy)
Megan and Murray McMillan’s “This Land is a Ship at Sea.” (Courtesy)

“This Land is a Ship at Sea,” WGBH video wall along Route 90 (at 1 Guest St., Boston), all day July 16.
A new video by the art couple Megan and Murray McMillan, known for their dream-like videos that often focus on performance, architecture and giant props (flowers, chunks of coal). They'll also have a piece in "Cove" on Georges Island.

Caitlin & Nicole Duennebier’s pieces inspired the Boston Harbor Islands will be on view in “34” at Boston Sculptors Gallery. (Courtesy)
Caitlin & Nicole Duennebier’s pieces inspired the Boston Harbor Islands will be on view in “34” at Boston Sculptors Gallery. (Courtesy)

“34,” Boston Sculptors Gallery, 486 Harrison Ave, Boston, July 22 to Aug. 16.
Artists and collectives make art inspired by each of the 34 Boston Harbor Islands.

“Soundscapes,” Spectacle Island, Aug. 8.
Classical chamber, folk and bluegrass performances, curated by Leah Hennessy. Plus “a parade of dancers and brass musicians provide a riotous finale out to sea.”

“Knots Landing,” Boston Children's Museum, 308 Congress St., Boston, Aug. 8 to Oct. 11.
Jodie Lyn-Kee-Chow and Alice Vogler create an installation of cut-paper birds to mull threats to the red knot, the spoon-billed sandpiper and other species.

Greg Cook is co-founder of WBUR's ARTery. Follow him on Twitter @AestheticResear or on the Facebook.

As part of “seen/unseen” on Aug. 22, Maria Molteni and Hermione Spriggs invite visitors “to participate in a day of way-finding and sensory reorientation centered around the inner ear's cochlea and its relationship to collective sea-sickness, vertigo, and alarm-reception. Their collaboration will position the duo as archetypal Sirens who perform disruption, awakening and healing.” (Courtesy)
As part of “seen/unseen” on Aug. 22, Maria Molteni and Hermione Spriggs invite visitors “to participate in a day of way-finding and sensory reorientation centered around the inner ear's cochlea and its relationship to collective sea-sickness, vertigo, and alarm-reception. Their collaboration will position the duo as archetypal Sirens who perform disruption, awakening and healing.” (Courtesy)
+Join the discussion
TwitterfacebookEmail

Support the news