Nominees for ‘Worst Public Art In New England’?

Locally, we know how touchy the subject of public art can be. Over the years various public art installations in Lowell and environs while generally praised have sometimes raised eyebrows and caused comments. When a certain 1980s City Councilor saw a model for a bronze sculpture proposed for downtown, he said it looked like a bunch of lobsters wrestling—but the artist was actually honoring women and the sculpture wound up being selected as the iconic Lowell image on the official 1986 Sesquicentennial poster.

Now comes Boston Phoenix art critic and blogger Greg Cook – who according to a story by WBUR reporter Andre Shea, has taken up the cause of those who cringe at some Boston and  New England public art. Shea asks:

 Have you ever walked past a piece of public art and marveled at how misguided it seems? Maybe you’ve even had a visceral response, and fantasized about making it go away.

 Boston Irish Famine Memorial at Washington &  School Streets on the Freedom Trail

Greg Cook has created a project that asks for your nominations for the  “Worst Public Art in New England.” Cook has a “negative” thing about the  Boston Irish Famine Memorial in Downtown Crossing. It has spurred him to act against “despised” pieces of public art using his blog—The New England Journal of Aesthetic Research.

“I’m soliciting nominations,” he explained, reporting he’s gotten about two dozen so far. Then Cook said, “we’re going to have some sort of vote through the New England Journal of Aesthetic Research about what is the worst piece of public art in the area, and then organize a campaign to try to get it removed and then replaced.”

Cook has already received over two dozen nominations for the “Worst Public Art.” Not everyone hates the Famine piece but there are others that evoke those same visceral negative vibes. Do you have a favorite “worst public art” nominee? Log on here to make your voice heard. 

No question that the nominees will cause controversy among public art aficionados and those citizens who live with the public art as well as with the pros from the art world.  Current nominees from around New England include:

  • Bronze of Elizabeth Montgomery as Samantha Stephens from the 1960s TV show “Bewitched” in Salem
  • Cyrus Dallin’s “Appeal to the Great Spirit” in front of Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts
  • Shauna Gillies-Smith’s “Tracing the Fore” in Boothbay Square in Portland.
  • Krzysztof Wodiczko’s 2010 LED light installation at the Cambridge Police Headquarters
  • Whale mural off Route 93 in Boston’s South End
  • Green Street Bridge in Worcester, Massachusetts

Read Shea’s article here to learn more about the project.

Some Greater Lowell Public Art:

 Homage to Women, Lowell

Jack Kerouac Commemorative, Lowell

Wamesit Indian, Tewksbury

One Response to Nominees for ‘Worst Public Art In New England’?

  1. DickH says:

    When I see a piece of art, public or otherwise, that I “don’t get”, I don’t blame the artist, I blame myself. Too many times when I was younger I turned my nose up at things that didn’t fit my preconceived notions of what art should be. Now when I see something I don’t understand I put some effort into figuring it out and usually come away admiring the piece rather than ridiculing it.