Artists Talk About Their Works on the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk

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Residents and artists take a stroll along the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk, led by the Tuba Guy. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

An enthusiastic group of art lovers took a stroll on a warm spring afternoon to hear about the newest additions to the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk from the artists themselves.

Four new pieces joined the first four sculptures installed in 2023. The works were selected by the Watertown Public Arts & Culture Committee from the artists applying to be a part of the exhibition.

Committee Chair Roberta Miller thanked everyone who came out, including the Tuba Guy, Zachariah Hickman, who led the procession along the path between Whites Avenue and Waverley Avenue, across Main Street, and down to Howard Street.

Archy LaSalle, vice chair of the committee, described how the group picked the pieces.

“It took us the better part of 2.5, 3 hours after which we got it down, selected the ones we thought were best, tossed around what each of us thought were the best,” he said.

LaSalle added that the Community Sculpture Walk is another addition that makes the town a special place.

“Watertown, we are a city now, is one of the places we know we are good, but we don’t broadcast it like other communities,” LaSalle said.

A new addition to the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk is R. Douglass Rice’s “Colliding Worlds II.” (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

As you walk from Saltonstall Park (near City Hall and the Watertown Boys & Girls Club) heading west, the first new sculpture is R. Douglass Rice‘s “Colliding Worlds II.”

“This is about how colliding worlds can come together and make some sort of unit,” Rice told the group on the tour of the new sculptures on May 10.

The piece has interconnected portions of circles creating a sphere-shaped abstract sculpture. Rice started working using cardboard and when he finalized the shape he created a model out of plywood. He then took it to a metal fabricator to use the wood as the model for the final piece, which is cut out of a sheet of 5/8 inch thick aluminum. He added that he tries to make it all from one piece of aluminum, which comes in 4 foot x 8 foot sheets.

The sculpture is also easy to transport, said Rice, who lives in Stonington, Connecticut, and used to have a studio in Tribeca when he ran a high end residential company in New York.

“It all fits together, I can slot it together,” he said. “I can fit it in the back of a pickup.”

Rice also has sculptures on display in Massachusetts in Maynard, Harvard, and Ipswich, as well as other spots around New England.

Ken Reker talks about his piece, “All Style, No Substance.” (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

Ken Reker‘s “All Style No Substance” can be seen from Main Street. It is a large gold rectangle framing an empty center.

“I like the way when you look at it you are looking through it,” Reker said. “What we consider art — everyone’s definition is different and valuable — art, in my mind, is anything that when you look at it you walk away and think in a different way than before.”

One of the attendees of the walk called the piece, “A photo opp waiting to happen.”

The piece is made from expanding foam usually used in homes and buildings to fill holes, he said. Reker, who has been a professor at Salem State University since 2005 and the director of Salem State’s Winfisky Gallery since 2016, has done similar pieces that have floated in the Charles River in Cambridge in 2007, and displayed in Key West, Florida in 2005. He has also had public art pieces in Salem, Gloucester, Newburyport, and Worcester, among others.

Michael Alfano describes how he made “Beacon,” a piece inspired by a quote by Martin Luther King Jr. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

On a spot along the Community Path near Halfway Cafe now stands “Beacon” by Michael Alfano. The shape of the towering sliver of bronze changes as you walk around it, and forms a face looking at it from one direction.

“It is inspired by the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. quote: ‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that,'” Alfano said.

The piece began with a 7-inch tall model, which scaled up to 42-inches tall, and the final piece is 8-feet high. Alfano said he considered continuing the curve into a full arch and hanging a swing off it, but he realized it would not support a person’s weight.

Alfano also has 15 pieces on display in a sculpture walk overlooking Lower Manhattan in a park along the Hudson River in Jersey City, New Jersey. He has also had shows in the Navy Yard in Charlestown.

“Transparencies in Time: Cuahpohualli” by Jose Trejo Maya is described by Watertown Public Arts & Culture Planner Liz Helfer. (Photo by Charlie Breitrose)

The final piece sits on the end of the gravel path that runs from Main Street to Howard Street. From afar, Jose Trejo Maya‘s “Transparencies in Time: Cuahpohualli,” looks like a tall, white four-sided rectangle, but as you get closer details are revealed.

Trejo Maya is also a poet, and the piece made from plexiglass includes writings about his indigenous heritage, said Watertown Public Arts and Culture Planner Liz Helfer. Trejo Maya could not attend the opening because he was home in Los Angeles.

“Each poem flows into the next,” Helfer said, reading from words prepared by the artist. “You can work your way around it.”

Trejo Maya was born in Celaya, Guanajuato, Mexico, and spent his early years in the small rural pueblo of Tarimoró before his family immigrated to the United States. His poetry has been published in various countries, including the United Kingdom, U.S., India, Spain, Australia, Argentina, Germany, and Venezuela.

Find out more about the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk on an interactive map by clicking here.

2 thoughts on “Artists Talk About Their Works on the Watertown Community Sculpture Walk

  1. Many thanks to the Artists for their creative and thoughtful sculptures, With the four scuptures from last year the eight pieces make for an enjoyable stroll or cycle ride. And thank you to the Public Arts and Culture Committee for their work making it all possible . I enjoyed the walk.

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