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    Boston-area arts letters

    Nancy Kaye/ap/file 1982

    An unfiltered view of Williams

    Don Aucoin’s generous article about Tennessee Williams (“Tennessee Williams’s time is now,” Sunday Arts, Sept. 22) and very generous mention of the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival made such an impact — personally, professionally, and among an international group of artists, scholars, and other critics — that I needed to wait a full week and then some to collect my thoughts enough to say thank you.

    The way we learn about a play or a playwright or a director if we don’t read the work — or go to see and hear performances — is filtered through criticism, word of mouth, and advertising. Through those filters, over time, reputations change, build, decline, disappear, erupt.


    So, for me, Aucoin’s article was important because, as reportage, it bypassed those filters. Mentioning the productions of “Green Eyes” and “Madame LeMonde,” especially, cut through Broadway advertising, gossip about movie star vehicles, or someone’s immediate consideration of how good or bad a particular production is or is not, or how much money it made or lost. The writing of Williams (right) may speak for itself, but what Aucoin wrote — and took notice of — has helped people to hear it.

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    Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival


    Artistic failure in Boston

    I appreciate Sebastian Smee’s article in Sunday’s Globe on the lack of good public art in Boston (“Moving beyond the bronze age,” A1, Oct. 6) . I have been complaining to friends and anyone else who will listen about this same subject. This has been my cause for the year, but I lack a forum. It is the one question I asked both mayoral candidates: Are you aware and will you look into this?

    Coming back from Barcelona, where the refuse containers are celebrated with colorful artwork, I started to become aware of the lack of art in Boston. In Barcelona, in large measure due to Pablo Picasso and Antoni Gaudi, there is not only good public art but also wonderfully formed buildings. Some of the latter-day architecture is stunning.


    I consider myself a man with a passion for art, but I now realize after reading Smee’s article that when I look at Boston’s public sculpture, they are memorials and serve as history lessons, but I do not engage with them as a creative and artistic endeavor.



    I’m not sure we’ve reached critical mass quite yet, but I absolutely want to laud Sebastian Smee’s piece on public art. This is all near and dear to my heart: Last January I launched an effort through the Boston Society of Architects titled BostonAPP/Lab: Art in Greater Boston’s Public Places. With a background in urban planning I figured I might be able to do something useful by pulling together various strands of a pretty fractured universe in an effort to come to grips with some of the issues that hinder (to be polite about it) a more vibrant scene in the region.

    Since January, we’ve held a series of public sessions at the BSA that have included artists, agency heads, municipal representatives, and funders who are focusing on knotty problems such as temporary art as a permanent part of art in public places, collaboration at the municipal scale, and the intersection of urban design and art in public places.




    I enjoyed reading Sebastian Smee’s article about public art in Boston and can’t agree more that it is lackluster. I have worked with the Cambridge Arts Council on a public art project called Beacon of Color located at Spring and First streets in the Kendall Square area. The council’s effort to install exciting public art all over Cambridge within pretty tight budget constraints far outshines Boston’s.



    As an Irish-American, I was very excited to go down to the unveiling of the famine statue. When I saw the statue, I almost barfed (figuratively) — it was so grossly maudlin. The crowd cheered, but I was embarrased to be Irish-American that day. Who got to review that design?



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