Outdoor Art Adventures

Published in the April 2010 issue of Boston Parents Paper

Not all art lives inside museums and galleries. Wonderful, whimsical pieces – perfect for exploring with children – pepper parks, playgrounds and public places throughout Greater Boston. Now that spring is here, consider exploring these destinations that have creations to delight all ages.

Art-Filled Acres
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum in Lincoln features contemporary art indoors and out. Says DeCordova's Victoria Glazomitsky, “Kids and families love the park. It gives little ones 35 acres to run around on while providing a creative backdrop that lends itself to family discussions.” The changing exhibition of about 75 works includes many for kids to enjoy – such as Doug Kornfeld’s outsized Ozymandias figure and Paul Matisse’s xylophone-like Musical Fence. The museum offers many family programs including a kid-friendly Sculpture Park audio tour.
DeCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, 51 Sandy Pond Road, Lincoln; 781-259-8355; http://www.decordova.org/. Park open daily dawn to dusk, admission charged during museum hours: Tuesday-Sunday, 10am – 5pm. Adults, $12; kids ages 6-12, $8; kids ages 5 and under, free.

Water Works
Enjoy sea and city views as you discover art along Boston’s Harborwalk, a public path that runs along or near the water’s edge from East Boston to Dorchester. About 38 of the Harborwalk’s planned 47 miles are completed, with plenty of long stretches perfect for family outings. Pick a route from the Harborwalk Web site, pack a picnic, and set off to find delightful works, including marine animal sculptures, fish-shaped benches and fanciful aluminum panels in South Boston’s Eastport Park. There are also mosaic walls and a spiral tower in Charlestown’s Paul Revere Park and eye-catching, large-scale sculpture at Arts on the Point on the UMASS Boston campus.
Boston Harborwalk, www.bostonharborwalk.com/art.

Outdoor Gallery in Cambridge
The Cambridge Arts Council (CAC) has helped turn Cambridge into a giant gallery of accessible art, much of it outdoors. “Because we serve the public, all of our projects are for a multigenerational audience,” says the CAC’s Lillian Hsu. There are interesting works in a variety of media all over the city, with lots of engaging installations to make kids smile. Check out Danehy Park’s half-mile-long “glassphalt” path by artist Mierle Laderman Ukeles and Nancy Selvage’s Waterwall in Trolley Square. The exteriors of public buildings, restaurants and stores host vibrant murals like Crossroads, Crosswinds and Potluck that celebrate the city’s diversity.
Cambridge Arts Council, 344 Broadway, Cambridge; 617-349-4389; http://www.cambridgema.gov/~cac/ .

Cemetery Sculpture
Don’t get spooked. Founded in 1848 as a park and arboretum as well as a burial ground, Jamaica Plain’s Forest Hills Cemetery offers a 250-acre oasis of paths, trees, and a lake alive with frogs and turtles. It’s also home to an extraordinary sculpture collection. In addition to elaborate Victorian grave art, there’s a Sculpture Path of contemporary pieces that “children and families enjoy exploring,” says Forest Hills Trust’s Cecily Miller. Favorite pieces include interactive works like Mitch Ryerson’s Poetry Chairs, inscribed with poetry written by teens, and Andrea Thompson’s Knock on Wood, with knockers that make different sounds. Forest Hills’s summer camps host more than 800 children, and July’s Lantern Festival draws people of all ages for Japanese drumming, dancing and the sunset launching of lanterns across the lake.
Forest Hills Cemetery, 95 Forest Hills Ave., Boston; 617-524-0128; www.foresthillstrust.org.