Arts Today in Back Bay...
Part 1 by Ian Sawan
Our group decided to take a walk together around the Back Bay Area, to really get an idea of the different artistic elements of the region. Though we all go to school right next to the Back Bay area, and we’d all been to this area before, taking a trip solely for the purpose of viewing and observing the art was an eye-opening and educational experience. The first thing we all noticed was the architectural art. Within one block, there is an old, brownstone colonial church standing directly next to a huge, glass skyscraper. This is really reflective not only of the wealth that exists in the Back Bay area, but of the way it seems Boston is attempting to preserve historical sites and keep them an integral part of even the most urban and populated areas. From the beginnings of Newbury Street by the Public Gardens, all the way to the reflection pool by the Boston Conservatory at Berklee, there were certainly many differences between the areas with very rich, large, colonial buildings that were mostly repurposed to be buildings for new stores, and the areas where the older buildings were less restored, and had more homegrown, family businesses and art shops. Religion is certainly a main artistic element of this area, with tons of churches interspersed within the city, and even synagogues and temples on certain streets. Our observations of the architecture, religion, and the many different organizations and businesses that exist in this area to give us a strong idea of how populated, busy and wealthy this area is. We certainly have a lot to choose from when it comes to our memoir and profile pieces, and there area many different directions that we can go in. All in all, the art of Back Bay is reflective of a busy combination between historical and contemporary artistic cultures- whether they are harmoniously blended or clashing is to be determined!
Part 2 by Max Winter
Back Bay is far from deprived of art, however, it may be a bit expensive for someone who can't afford to live in Back Bay. If one walks down Newbury Street, they will see a plethora of art galleries, many of which are extremely close by each other, if not right next door. If one goes to Copley Square, they will find the McKim Building of the Boston Public Library. Copley Square was also the original home of Boston's Museum of Fine Arts. If one enjoys the fine arts, they will find plenty of it in Back Bay.
However, the most striking form of art in Back Bay may be its architecture. It is mainly from the nineteenth century, but there are a few newer buildings. The neighborhood is famous for its townhouses from that era. Many of them look similar, often having red brick exteriors, and bow windows. On Newbury Street, many of these townhouses are now retailers. The townhouses look lovely. Back Bay also has many old churches, and you can often see art displayed outside of a few of them. For example, Emmanuel Church, was built in 1860, and it takes up almost half of its entire block. Today, a Black Lives Matter flag hangs on it. It is one of the most beautiful churches on Newbury Street. The McKim Building of the Boston Public Library is one of the most impressive buildings on Copley Square, even with a skyscraper a block away. On the outside, there are two statues, one with the names of famous scientists beside it, and the other with the names of esteemed artists beside it. It is very spacious inside. It is partially illuminated by natural light, but because it was cloudy when we went, it was somewhat dim indoors. The building evoked Europe during the Renaissance, and has murals on its walls. It is one of the most beautiful buildings in Back Bay, and that is saying quite a lot. Not far away, is the more modern Prudential Center, which can feel a bit underwhelming after seeing so many gorgeous townhouses, old churches, and a grand library. The tower looks like a tall, yet fat blue box. The Shops at the Prudential Center is a bit more aesthetically pleasing, with numerous skylights and simple glossy white walls. Otherwise, the architecture in Back Bay is beautiful. Even if you cannot afford some of the art, that should not discourage you from taking a free picturesque stroll through Back Bay.