The Edgar Allan Poe Sculpture – Finally Boston’s tribute to her famous native son has arrived (officially October 5, 2014) on the south side of Boylston Street at the intersection of Charles Street. The work comes complete with a raven, a (presumably telltale) heart, slabs of quotes from the author’s writings, and other references to one of America’s most famous and influential critics, poets, and short story writers.
Alexander Calder sculptures – The special treat of this exhibit is the piano music composed by Cage, Satie, and Feldman that greats you as you wend your way through mobiles and stabiles mostly from the first half of the twentieth century. Exhibits of work by Calder, although generally popular, don’t happen often enough. The only weaknesses (and they are not major) of the exhibit are that you can’t buy CDs of the music (in terrific performances) at the gift shop and (at least when I visited) the name of the performer of Cage’s prepared piano work, Margaret Leng Tan, is misspelled on the relevant exhibit card. Also, inexplicably the term stabile nowhere is defined nor is the source of the word stabile (i.e., Jean Arp in 1931) mentioned. In fact, I could not find the term used anywhere in the exhibit galleries (although it is mentioned in the promotional materials). Calder and Abstraction is at the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem through January 4, 2015.
The Ether Monument – This monument, the oldest in the Public Garden, commemorates the use of ether in anesthesia. Located near the intersection of Arlington Street and Beacon Street, the Ether Monument includes (among other inscriptions) the statement that the use of ether was first “proved to the world at the Mass. General Hospital in Boston, October A.D. MDCCCXLVI” (i.e., 1846). You should have no trouble finding the pedestal and sculpture. It is forty feet high. A panel of scholars in 2013 picked anesthesia to be among the “50 Greatest Breakthroughs Since the Wheel” (The Atlantic November 2013, p. 57).
The Architecture of Charles Bullfinch - Charles Bullfinch, who oversaw the design of our nation’s capitol, is perhaps the country’s first architectural icon. He studied in Europe as well as under the tutelage of Thomas Jefferson. He also found time to show up to class at Harvard. There is much more to his life than architecture and design. But anyone else would be quite content to take credit for his Bullfinch Pavilion at Massachusetts General Hospital,the Massachusetts State House, and Faneuill Hall. The last two buildings are part of the Freedom Trail.
The Public Art Walk – The Mayor’s office and the Boston Art Commission have made the first steps in developing what they call the Public Art Walk. It’s a great idea. Using the free online map (two different versions) you can wander through the city looking for--or bumping into--public art. The map is pretty much devoid of prejudice, pointing out both old and new works. Especially popular works (e.g., the Arthur Fielder Memorial) are highlighted. So far the program covers Back Bay, Beacon Hill, the Financial District, and the North End. But the intention is to produce a map of the entire city. There is more information here.