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    letters | Boston’s public-art landscape

    A place for both bold and bronze

    A detail from the Boston Irish Famine Memorial.
    Lane Turner/Globe Staff
    A detail from the Boston Irish Famine Memorial.

    As a young working artist born and raised in Boston, I disagree with Sebastian Smee’s taste in art (“Moving beyond the bronze age,” Page A1, Oct. 6). I love bronze, and I love depressing or morbid subjects. I really like the melodrama of the Irish Famine Memorial, and I love all the historical works in the city.

    However, I agree with Smee that public art in Boston is a little dull. It blends into the background. You don’t notice it unless you have a particular interest in history. There’s nothing whimsical, striking, or otherwise fun about it (unless you happen to walk past the Irish Famine Memorial when a pigeon lands on the girl’s head, and it looks like she’s raising her arm to shoo it off).

    But as Smee suggests, a lot of contemporary art can stand out in the wrong way. Color can appear grating, impermanent materials can look cheap, and clever ideas can wind up looking silly. Bronze, on the other hand, always has a certain weightiness to it.


    I would like to join with Smee in calling for public art that’s more exciting and easily accessible, but at the same time I want to make sure we maintain Boston’s traditional love of art that’s grand and historical. We should be able to do both at the same time. It would be a bad idea to ignore one side or the other.

    Peter Bass

    Roxbury Crossing