The Trustees, the state’s largest conservation nonprofit, will kick off a two-year public art initiative this summer by bringing commissioned installations to two of its more than 100 properties.
In its first year, the initiative, dubbed “Art and the Landscape,” will feature a mirrored labyrinth-like structure by Danish artist Jeppe Hein at World’s End in Hingham and American artist Sam Durant’s “The Meeting House” at the Old Manse in Concord.
“[We spent] multiple hours over the course of the year thinking through how a conservation organization would not only launch something like this, but do it really, really well,” said Barbara Erickson, president and CEO of The Trustees.
Erickson, starting two years ago with a team including Rose Art Museum director Christopher Bedford and New York’s Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume, enlisted the eye of independent curator Pedro Alonzo to narrow down and decide on possible site-artist pairings.
“It was really the sites that drove the selection process,” said Alonzo, a former adjunct curator at the Institute of Contemporary Art who nabbed French artist JR’s six-story mural for the former John Hancock tower last fall. “For instance, at a site like World’s End, there’s this stunning beauty down in Hingham on the South Shore. It’s a site that once you’re there, it feels like you’re in the middle of nowhere.”
Alonzo said he selected Hein’s piece, which is made up of mirrored posts set at different heights to mimic the park’s drumlin hills, in order to literally reflect that beauty across every season. The installation, due in August at the earliest, will remain up for a year, accommodating the park’s year-round visitorship.
“We actually want to see it through three to four seasons,” Erickson said. “We’ll see how it stands up to the New England winter.”
At the Old Manse, Alonzo said, Durant’s “The Meeting House” will reflect the site’s history as a transcendentalist gathering place by hosting public meetings and community discussions within its own structure on the site’s North Field.
“There, it was history,” Alonzo said. “This is the historic home that William Emerson built. His wife watched the revolution start across their field. . . . So many of the ideas that helped define this country’s sense of self were discussed at this home.”
Slated for a July unveiling, the structure will stand for about seven weeks. Though nothing is nailed down yet, Erickson said, the group is already looking ahead at year two of the project, with a third installation at one of The Trustees’ Martha’s Vineyard reservations planned for next spring.
“I think it’s a new day for public art in Massachusetts,” Erickson said. “I hope that our initiative is an important contributor to that.”