Friday, December 15, 2006

Boston’s New Crown Jewel – the ICA

I am not a huge fan of contemporary art, so it was with some hesitation that I agreed to accompany a friend to the newly-opened Institute for Contemporary Art on Boston’s waterfront. Am I glad I accepted! I was very pleasantly surprised – both by the architecture of the new space and by the works on display inside the gleaming cube.

The building interacts beautifully with its surroundings – using wide expanses of glass walls and over-sized glass elevators to bring the artistry and beauty of the outdoors into the building to enhance the visual experience of the man-made works of art. The space surrounding the building, which is open to the public, includes seating for outdoor concerts and events. The stadium-style benches are built of beautifully designed natural wood. The views of Boston Harbor and of nearby Logan International Airport across the water are spectacular. The smells wafting from ICA's next door neighbor, Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant, add to the overall experience, as well.

The third floor includes a media library where one can sit and use any one of dozens of iMacs to watch many of the digital works of art in the ICA’s collections. The room slopes down at a steep angle to a spacious picture window that creates a delightful and whimsical visual effect – both from inside the room from and outside the building.

I browsed with delight through the myriad of eclectic galleries. My favorite works of art included an installation by artist Cornelia Parker entitled “Hanging Fire,” the artist’s response to an arson attack. The result is spectacularly moving and evocative. Another favorite was an installation of metallic bottles and decanters set in a box that created the effect of infinite reflection – arcing gently towards infinity. I kept coming back to view the piece from different angles.

Even if you are someone whose tastes are as traditional as mine, I think you will find a trip to Boston’s newest landmark worthwhile. Target Stores are sponsoring a program that makes access to the museum free on Thursdays after 5:00 PM.



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