Doherty-Gibson Site Visit and Walking Tours
July 31 and Aug. 1, 2014
Artists Joe O’Connell, Anh Tran, and Juanjo Novella met with Jean Mineo, Project Manager and Evelyn Darling (VietAID), Candice Gartley (All Dorchester Sports League), Elisa Girard (resident), Karin Goodfellow (Boston Art Commission), Liza Meyer (Boston Parks and Recreation Department), Nam Pham (VietAID), Professor Thanh Tran (Boston College), and Nghia Truong (VietAID).
Supplemental materials: updated park improvement project plan
Note: meetings were held over two days with various constituents. Comments are compiled and organized for ease of reading, not in chronological order.
• Thank you to All Dorchester Sports League and VietAID
• Project is a partnership with Parks Dept. and asks artists to be respectful of all the other uses of the park
• Excited to bring contemporary projects to expand Boston’s art collection
• Art Commission has final approval, will be concerned with public safety and maintenance requirements
• There is nothing similar to finalists’ work in Boston, no set ideas exist about concepts, committee remains open minded
• Parks has shared interests and concerns as the Art Commission
• Artists should consider how park is used: an urban setting with active and passive users, pedestrians, and kids, elderly, and families
• Would like the artwork to evoke the journey for freedom, tragic for many
• Sizable Vietnamese community in Dorchester
• Desire for artwork to communicate with future generations
• Desire for artwork to look to past, present and future. This is not a memorial just to events of the past
• Vietnamese are strongly anti-communist
• Dorchester had been hit hard by white flight in 60s and 70s
• Vietnamese arrived in late 70s and 80s as refugees and transformed the neighborhood
• While Vietnamese are not the largest ethnic group in Dorchester, Vietnamese entrepreneurship has been very significant in helping to revitalize this community
• VietAID works for community development and affordable housing, wants to see Fields Corner thrive and be a destination for culture and business
• Boston as a city of neighborhoods, Fields Corner is an important neighborhood
• Expanding programming to year round
• Adding security and lighting to Field House
• Vision to enlarge building with an addition in the future
• Desire for artwork to represent experience of Vietnamese but also of others who try to achieve freedom
• Think of concept as “freedom to… (to create, to live, etc.)” not just “freedom from…..”
• Think of park as place for people to come to be free though some think park is dangerous
• Consider rich ethnic history of Fields Corner, Vietnamese are latest wave of immigrants
• Desire to promote peace
• Area is very parochial – by street even. Boston has been centered around parishes
• Desire for artwork to be proud of, to spark conversation
• Desire for artwork people can relate to – not too abstract
• VietAID will need community support
• Vietnamese as survivors of war and of the hard journey to America
• Peace without freedom is slavery
• Approx. 15-20,000 Vietnamese live within a half mile of Doherty-Gibson park
What does freedom mean to you?
• It means being present here instead of a place where you can’t say what you want or be who you want
• Many (families, friends) lost lives on ocean so others can be here, have freedom
• Thankful every day
• Want to share this experience with others so it’s not taken for granted
• Gratitude for soldiers who came to Vietnam to defend freedom
• Gratitude as refugees seeking freedom in America after the fall of Saigon
• Not only the Vietnamese that won freedom, lots of other nationalities want freedom from persecution, from poverty, from violence
FOLLOW UP SITE ISSUES
• If required, should source from opposite side of Field House – same source that powers the Field House and the field lights. Artists should not plan on accessing power in street lights on site which are controlled by a different department.
• Trees are Honey Locusts, planted in 1987 (age 27 years in 2014)
• Can live 60 – 70 years in urban environment
• Tree pruning for health and structural reasons is done whenever possible
• Pruning can happen as part of this project, but it should be done for tree health by a certified arborist. Trees may get a bit bigger but canopies are already touching.
• Trees should be viewed as an asset – not an impediment. Proposals that undermine existing trees will not be supported.
• Light fixtures within the park are street lights (even though they are in the park).
• Artists should access electrical service for new lighting needs from a Parks Dept. electrical box (proposals can not tie into street lighting system)
• Public Works owns and maintains street lights, other lighting would be maintained as part of the artwork
• Safety and security are major issues at Doherty-Gibson. Changes (if any) should explain how lighting will address these issues and be maintained over time.
STONE ENTRANCE PILLARS
• Entry pillars have been there a long time (one was relocated 40+ years ago to accommodate a shift in entry location, but the features were retained / rebuilt)
• When the park was originally developed, piers were used to mark each of the entry points (though some of these points have changed over time), so there is a certain continuity of that vocabulary in the retention of these elements to this day.
• Committee is open to removing them, but not without some thought and consideration
WATER / DRINKING FOUNTAIN
• The drinking fountain is going to be replaced with a bottle filler which will be located near the baseball backstop
• The waterline goes through the plaza
• If the waterline becomes an issue with foundations in the plaza, we can consider sleeving it or rerouting it as part of the art project as needed to avoid conflicts
• The park renovation project anticipates repairing a leaking section of pipe and patching the pavement in that area, but does not include major plaza excavation
SAFETY / CLIMBING
• Climbing the artwork should be expected, but it still should be designed as artwork not a play element. If people are encouraged to climb, safety will be considered in an even more rigorous way.
• The Parks Department will expect a thorough and realistic assessment of safety (including safety if the piece is misused) as the selected concept is developed
• Art Commission works with City’s Risk Assessment who could also review. Street furniture is climbed on, though not designed for this.
PRESENTING MORE THAN ONE PROPOSAL
• Acceptable: applicants are allotted up to 40 minutes for public presentation in total