‘Modern technology has made it possible for us to view events originating anywhere in the world simultaneous to their occurrence. Unlike pre-satellite days when a population nervously awaited word from a catastrophe or war zone, we now view world events as easily as a television mini-series. Media packaging leaves the two resembling one another, with the large concentration of information thrown upon us, leaving us temporarily entertained, but unable to fully evaluate and understand what we have viewed.’
I wrote the above words to serve as an introduction to “Instant History,” a 1992 photography exhibition I presented at Worcester Polytechnic Institute’s Gordon Library. The exhibition looked at London’s reaction to the Tiananmen Square Massacre and arrests of Chinese Democracy Movement protestors in the days that followed through the eyes of its Chinese community in June 1989 and the final days of the Soviet Union before Latvia and Lithuania gained its independence in August 1991.
That feeling of “Instant History” returned as recent events unfurled on the streets in response to the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis; I also remembered that our modern attention span has showed how fickle even the most well- meaning movement can be. As it became obvious that calls for change weren’t going to go away anytime soon, it became essential to feature art- work intended to leave the lasting message that Black Lives Matter.
I first met mural artist Marka27 and Liza Quiñonez of Street Theory at the invitation of the owners of Theatre Café in downtown Worcester when Marka27 was in town to paint a large-scale mural as part of the POW! WOW! Worcester mural festival in 2016 and watched Marka27 paint his mural at Underground at Ink Block in Boston the following year. After Street Theory announced its “Murals for the Movements” project, I wrote Quiñonez asking if she’d be willing to contribute a story about it for this issue.
As June unfurled, Instagram posts from Cedric “Vise1” Douglas (@vise_1_boston) and Julia Roth (@julzroth) of people holding their “Tools of Protest” banners at marches and protests not only in Boston, but around the country, showed how art activism could play a role at this critical time in our country’s history. This issue begins with Cecily Miller, an independent curator and community arts organizer based in Cambridge, Massachusetts, documenting the history of their “Tools of Protest” project as well as Douglas’ “Street Memorial” and “Rose Memorial” projects to honor Black men and women killed by police in the United States and give people ways and public places to grieve and celebrate those lives lost.
Nancy Nesvet, our national correspon- dent, monitored protests over Confederate and Columbus statues around the country that soon encompassed anyone believed to have a racist past. As she began writing her article on their fate, our thought was they would be removed and stored safely until it was decided where their final resting places would be. Before she could submit her story, some people took the discussion in their own hands, in some instances, painting over the statues, while others found ways to topple them onto the ground and in some instances, into water.
Our March/April 2019 13th Anniversary Issue featured Rhode Island-based, Georgia-raised artist Becci Davis and her “In the Shadow of Dixie” performance art presentations that urged county, state and federal government officials to remove their Confederate Civil War memorials from public parks in eight southern cities. In this issue, as some of those statues were coming down, Suzanne Volmer reconnected with Davis to get her observations as history was being made.
As we self-examined our individual roles in “how did we get to this point and what role might we have played” in the country’s inequal- ity, Elizabeth Michelman “campaigned” for covering “Intervisible: Red Lining and Blind Stitching in the Fabric of Greater Boston,” an exhibition at Boston’s Bromfield Gallery by Caroline Rufo who uses her art to remind us of what happens when people remain silent in the clear sight of injustice and discrimination.
One of our biggest challenges in putting this issue together was waiting to find out when New England’s museums and galleries would be able to reopen. As I’m writing this, the Bennington Museum in Bennington, Vermont, has opened its doors for the first time in three and a half months; Marguerite Serkin reviews its timely look at “Our Voices, Our Streets: Photographs by Kevin Bubriski” that documents the first decade of protests in the 21st century.
As the region slowly reopened, many venues opened their gates to artwork being displayed outside its doors to rejuvenate the souls of their communities. Linda Chestney visited the Alnoba Art Park in Kensington, New Hampshire, to view its impressive collection of large sculptures.
Ogunquit, Maine-based Eric J. Taubert was dropping off some of his photographs for display at Bowersock Gallery in Provincetown, where he also visited with playwright Ryan Landry to talk about his paintings that have recently found favor thanks to social media.
Few who visit Provincetown for any period of time don’t drop in for a meal at Napi’s, which reopened as we were going to press; its namesake died at the end of 2019, leaving a tremendous art collection that is shared through the “Director’s Choice: In Memoriam: Napi Van Dereck” exhi- bition at Provincetown Art Association and Museum, which reopens on July 11, and reviewed here by Laura Shabott.
J.M. Belmont investigated what COVID- 19 times life is like for millennials looking to establish themselves professionally through the experiences of actor Chris Kandra, painter Andrea Lee Manning and graphic designer Brianna Coleman.
Claudia Ruiz Gustafson’s “Historias de Tierra y Mar/Stories of Land and Sea” collection of images from her Peruvian homeland that are on view virtually at the Multicultural Arts Center of Cambridge website and reviewed by Beth Neville will rekindle and warm the hearts of anyone who’s made an unforgettable family pilgrimage.
We have much gratification for the galleries, museums and artists who have advertised and listed their events in this issue and encourage you to support them in any way that you can. We’d also like to thank the City of Quincy for their support.
Please stay safe, continue wearing a mask, and keep looking out for and supporting each other. Enjoy this issue.