City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. is excited to announce the installation of public art pieces along the North Main Street corridor starting this week, adding a historical and artistic element to the City of Worcester’s Main Street Reimagined.
Construction of Carroll Plaza at Hanover Theatre is also underway, and will feature a public art element.
The reconfigured Main Street features bicycle lanes, widened sidewalks and new streetscapes similar to other recently completed street upgrades in downtown Worcester. The intent of Main Street Reimagined is to supplement the streetscape with custom public art installations to activate public space and develop interest through both functional and decorative elements.
Pieces will start being installed this week, beginning with “Flat Curves,” by Jennifer Rubin Gray, representing the corset developed by the Royal Worcester Corset Company; “Esther Howland Bench,” by Gianna Steward, in honor of Esther Howland, who started selling valentines through father’s stationary store in Worcester; and “Wrench Bench,” by Bartek Konieczny, recognizing the invention of the “monkey wrench” in Worcester.
“Flat Curves” will be installed at 526 Main St. “Esther Howland Bench” will be installed on the left corner of City Hall. “Wrench Bench” will be installed at 327 Main St., to the right of Mechanics Hall.
Two more installations will be installed after Veterans Day. “Guitar,” by Jose Criollo Guncay, celebrates Worcester’s musical heritage. “The Speaker’s Stand,” by Ann Hirsch and Jeremy Angier of A+J Art+Design, is inspired by 19th-century Worcester abolitionist and suffragist Abby Kelley Foster, representing the voices of women committed to social justice and equality for all women.
“Guitar” will be installed at 288 Main St., while “The Speaker’s Stand” will be put in place at 311 Main St., to the left of Mechanics Hall.
All five pieces are expected to be installed by Thanksgiving.
A sixth installation, titled “A Perfect Jump,” by Seth Hoffman, Laura Marotta and Penn Ruderman, a bike rack in honor of Worcester-resident and world-champion cyclist Marshall “Major” Taylor, is expected to be installed this winter. It will stand at 120 Main St., to the right of Armsby Abbey.
Ultimately, the installations will be accompanied by informational kiosks providing background on the art pieces and detailing the artist’s vision for the finished product. The kiosks are expected to be added next year; temporary signage will hold their place.
Work has also begun on Francis R. Carroll Plaza outside Hanover Theatre, 2 Southbridge St. The approximately $3.1-million project will include a public art installation, titled “Calliope,” by Ross Miller, composed of stainless steel and LED lights. This piece, accompanied by a water feature, will give nod to the in-house organ so popular in entertainment venues and churches in the early 20th-century. The plaza will also feature plantings, festoon lights, a seating area and a raised stage for performances arranged by Hanover Theatre.
“I’ve often referred to the arts in Worcester as the City’s secret sauce,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. said. “We started Main Street Reimagined focusing on our infrastructure by incorporating ADA-compliant streets and sidewalks to make them safer and more practical for everyone to use. Now we are adding the secret sauce. These art installations will tell the story of Worcester’s rich history. They will invite people not merely to drive and walk our streets, but to pause and look around. We want people to stay awhile, not just pass right through, and we want to tell them a little bit about our City’s great past. Collaborating with our partners in the arts community, we are doing that with this project.”
State Sen. Harriette L. Chandler, D-Worcester, who helped secure funding for the art piece honoring Abby Kelley Foster, said, “The City of Worcester deserves public art for residents and visitors to appreciate and admire. I was proud to help secure funds for the Abby Kelley piece, and I am incredibly grateful that the City is investing in a public art offering at Carroll Plaza.”
The City of Worcester’s Cultural Development Office and Department of Public Works & Parks, in partnership with the Worcester Cultural Coalition, have been working with the Public Art Working Group (PAWG) to incorporate the arts, place-making, and Worcester’s cultural heritage into public spaces around the City, noted Cultural Development Officer Erin I. Williams, who said, “These efforts will bring the history of Worcester to life through artistic expression and build on the momentum of the Worcester Cultural Plan.”
Public art, said Gloria Hall, founder and director of Art in the Park and PAWG member, is place-making.
“It has the power to energize our public spaces and stimulate memory and our mind’s imagination,” Hall said. “The additions of these sculptures on Main Street at once connects the city’s past to the present and enlivens and enhances the streetscape.”
Of the new gathering space outside the theatre he oversees, Hanover Theatre President and CEO Troy Siebels said people can look forward to diverse entertainment options.
“We’re excited to help reimagine our end of Main Street,” Siebels said. “We’re already working on performance ideas for the new outdoor stage on Carroll Plaza, to be complete in fall 2022. We will program that new space with a range of entertainment throughout the year. It gives us the opportunity to reach so many people that aren’t coming into the theatre to sit down and see a Broadway show.”
“Carroll Plaza,” City Manager Edward M. Augustus, Jr. added, “will be a wonderful addition to the Downtown Main Street landscape, and will serve as an enhancement to the events held at Hanover Theatre, while at the same time inviting people to enjoy a unique public space.”
Work on Carroll Plaza and the installation of the public art pieces along Main Street are both being done by UEL Contractors, Inc., a woman-owned, Clinton-based general contractor.