Since its inception in March 2006, Artscope Magazine has been based on Hancock Street in Quincy, Massachusetts, AKA, “The City of Presidents.” Earlier this year, we relocated to the fourth floor of South Shore Health Building alongside QUBIC Labs at 1495 Hancock, after the closing of Solomon’s Collection & Fine Rugs, our longtime home base, a half-mile away.
When I last visited the area, pre-COVID, much of the area in front of Quincy City Hall was boarded off for redevelopment of the area. Now, it holds a welcoming and beautiful city park, the Hancock Adams Common, hosting statues of John Adams and John Hancock, and the entrance to picturesque Hancock Cemetery, bordered by United First Parish Church and Old City Hall.
Thomas P. Koch has been Quincy’s mayor since 2008. “When I first took office, it wasn’t a pleasant experience walking downtown,” he said. “We had to create a new Quincy. Now it’s a 24-hour district, with a lot more restaurants, beer gardens and a farmers’ market.”
The statues, designed and sculpted by Sergey Eylanbekov, and dedicated in a 2018 ceremony attended by Governor Charlie Baker and the now late Pulitzer Prize-winning historian David McCullough, bookmark a wide seating area overlooked by trees, gathering spaces, seating and two water fountains.
“I’m very pleased with the way this turned out,” Koch said. “This place gets used. People are here at night. It’s the new outdoor living room of downtown. People like to have their spots.”
A more recent addition to the area is the Quincy Art Association’s QArts Gallery, which opened last fall in eyesight of the Commons at 1229 Hancock Street, in the Munroe Building.
“Mayor Koch designated a vacant retail space that is now the QArts Gallery to the QAA,” said Ellyn Moller, president of the Quincy Art Association. “We’re grateful to have a mayor, who knows the value of making art accessible and understands that art can have a positive impact on everyday life. Support from the City of Quincy; local businesses; and our volunteers make what we do every day, possible.”
Formed in 1979, the Quincy Art Association’s classes and activities ran from a tiny location on High School Ave. that is still utilized as its office space and where its studio classes are currently held.
Located on the same block as City Hall and the Quincy Welcome Center, QArts Gallery is directly across the street from Quincy College and the Adams National Historical Park Visitor Center. “This location puts us on the path of hundreds of people,” Moller said. “Our visibility has increased off the charts, our membership is up, we are being discovered by locals, young families, students, newcomers and tourists who stop and look into our windows, and often take time to come inside. They’re curious, surprised and interested to see what’s on the walls. We get the opportunity to connect to an audience. We are the first members’ gallery to showcase on a regular basis that adds a rich cultural component to the revitalization of the city of Quincy.”
The Quincy Art Association currently has 150 members and has seen an increase in attendance for its exhibition openings. Opening on September 8 and continuing through October 30, the QArts Gallery will present Tsun Ming Chmielinski’s one-woman exhibition, “A Colorful Journey,” that will feature the Quincy artist’s sumi-e painting as well as works in oil, acrylic and pastel. It will be followed by a two-person show featuring photographer Alice Donaldson of West Roxbury, and oil painter David Wang of Quincy from November 3 through December 11.
In the future, the gallery hopes to add to its visual art presentations and broaden its outreach to local artisans. “A few months ago, we hosted a performance by a local theater company, and we are looking to pursue other new venues like fashion shows; poetry slams; open mic night and a venue for business meetings,” Moller said.
Artscope’s new office shares space with QUBIC Labs, which describes itself as “a startup incubator and innovation hub focused on helping entrepreneurs and innovators to develop world-class companies to serve businesses, governments and people.”
Quincy native Ian Cain, co-founder (along with John O’Keeffe) and chairman of QUBIC Labs, and co-founder and managing partner of QUBIC Ventures, which invests non-exclusively in QUBIC Labs’ businesses, is also in his fourth term as a Quincy City Councilor.
A Boston College grad who earned a MBA at Duke University, Cain worked in commercial real estate, developed and managed power projects around the world, advance impact investing and business development before he decided to return home to make an impact there, running for and earning a council seat and more recently, developing QUBIC Labs, currently focusing on how to bring part of the blockchain industry to Quincy.
If you, like this author, are still trying to grasp the ideology of cryptocurrencies (including Bitcoin), and how they work, there’s another aspect to consider — how the currency transactions take place. This is where blockchain comes in.
To his credit, Cain doesn’t pour on facts on the format as if he’s a major expert. What he does know is that cryptocurrencies are a growing part of the world economy and he wants Quincy to be a center of that activity.
“I saw an opportunity to create something; that because the basis for QUBIC to set the tone to developer innovation south of Boston,” Cain said. The company runs courses to give a better understanding of blockchain and is working to establish a curriculum on blockchain at Quincy College.
He compared the current rate of businesses using Bitcoin (under 2%) to the amount of people using the Internet in 1998. And we know how that ended up. “We’re using a new industry to propel economic growth,” Cain said. “This has space and enthusiasm and we’re trying to share in that growth.”
To introduce new audiences to the concept, QUIBIC will be presenting Boston Blockchain Week. The event, scheduled for September 21 through 25, will be held in downtown Quincy Center and promises to be a celebration of “the people who are harnessing the power and promise of blockchain technology to transform our global community.” For details, visit bostonblockchainweek.com.
Earlier this summer, Quincy announced plans for The Adams Presidential Center which will be built on land the city purchased from Adams Academy.
“There’s no place that brings the whole story (of United States Presidents John Adams and John Quincy Adams) alive,” Koch said. “The Adamses are relevant today. They were the only two presidents who were against slavery and spoke out loud about partisanship in government — and as a result, were voted out by their party.”
Koch said the center will be used as a place for people to be inspired with the understanding that with citizenship comes responsibility. “Generation after generation, the Adamses give back to their country.”
While the city is working with two nationally-known consultants, Koch said it will hold off on searching for and selecting an architect until it has a thrust on what it wants the center to be.
As a guideline in how that story can be told and engage modern audiences, he plans to travel to Philadelphia to visit the Museum of the American Revolution, which describes its mission as one that uncovers and shares compelling stories about the diverse people and complex events that sparked America’s ongoing experiment in liberty, equality and self-government. “I’m going down to get more ideas,” Koch said.
Also in Quincy’s planning states is a performing arts center, currently planned for a vacant lot bordered by Hancock Street and Hannon Parkway. With 2025 being the 400th anniversary of the settlement of Quincy, its completion and opening would make for a great commemorative occasion but the reality of the past three years makes that a prohibitive goal.
Koch didn’t know if it would be possible to have the center built and ready to open in time for the anniversary. “The pandemic has left a chilling effect on such projects as we learn how people will gather post-epidemic,” he explained. In a survey conducted by the city to judge what its residents wanted in a new venue, a movie theater, a place for performing arts and a cultural center topped the list. “We’ve asked people to tell us what you want. Now, it’s what can we really do and what can we afford to do.”
Quincy has been advised that any facility should avoid the old style of static seating arrangement of the past. “We’ve been told, ‘Don’t box yourself in; be versatile with the space,’” said Koch, saying the goal is to find a sweet spot for all of the city’s cultural organizations. “It will add great vitality to what we do downtown.”
The downtown area is also expected to get a huge boost by Quincy-based FoxRock Properties, a commercial real estate firm that has announced plans to bring more residential and shopping, as well as a life science lab, into Quincy Center at 1170 and 1200 Hancock Street.
To learn more about Quincy, and to plan a trip to its many cultural attractions and recreational opportunities, download the Quincy Visitor’s Guide at discoverquincy.com.