Spinning Wheel : Navy Yard Sculpture Presentation Promises to Be Mesmerizing

An upcoming wind-based kinetic art sculpture installation has the entire Navy Yard buzzing this summer in anticipation of the spring 2020 exhibit that will coincide with the Mayflower 2020 festivities.

The Navy Yard Garden Association has received approval from the Boston Arts Commission and the Boston Planning and Development Agency to place the kinetic art in Shipyard Park and along the Harbor next spring – a follow up to last summer’s popular ‘Big Dog’ sculpture installation in the Yard.

An installation of Lyman Whitaker’s kinetic art in the Dallas Arboretum. An installation will come to the Navy Yard in the spring of 2020.

“We’ve been working on this for a while,” said Robin DiGiammarino. “These pieces are really cool and when we asked the community for support, it was very heartwarming to see the patients and caregivers so excited to see public art in the Navy Yard. We knew it was going to be fun for residents and visitors, but to get support from the Spaulding, Mass General and Ronald McDonald House was just so heartwarming.”

The opening for the installation will be in the spring of 2020 and will coincide with the Mayflower 2020 festivities in the Yard. The exhibit by world-famous artist Lyman Whitaker will be up at least three months.

There will be between three and five sculptures at nine locations, some of them as tall as 14 feet, and all of them feature movement in the wind.

DiGiammarino said they decided to do something next year instead of this summer as they just needed extra time and wanted an appropriate follow-up to the success of the ‘Big Dog.’

“We heard loud and clear it’s wanted, but we’re a non-profit and volunteer-based,” she said. “We decided that if we wanted to do this, we wanted to do it right. In retrospect, we are fortunate to have the delay we had because now, next year, we’re lining up with the Mayflower event. We had a wonderful response to Big Dog and it was whimsical and fun and we’ll continue to do this as long as we have support from the community.”

Paul Dorrell, of Leopold Gallery, represents Whitaker, and he said the 70-year-old artist is based in Utah near Zion National Park – and is as surprised by his success as anyone.

“He was living in a teepee near Zion National Park and he wasn’t expecting a lot out of life,” said Dorrell. “Like any artist, he hoped to make it big, but didn’t expect it. He built his first sculpture in the1987 and it was a big success. He had to hire workers, and get a studio and find a manager. It freaked him out.”

Dorrell said the sculptures will be on the waterfront for the first time publicly in the Navy Yard show. While they are in private collections on the water, there’s never been a public show on the water. That, he said, will contribute to their mesmerizing nature.

“They’ve been displayed in Dallas, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh and the level of fascination was great,” he said. “It will be the same level of fascination. The pieces are soothing and mesmerizing pieces. It’s kind of trippy. Mesmerizing and soothing is what Lyman had in mind when he started in the `80s.”

Although the Association did not have a public art exhibit in the Navy Yard in 2019, the did continue to work on improving the Park by applying for and receiving grant funding from the Charlestown Improvement Fund (CIF) to cover costs of purchasing light fixtures to improve lighting and safety in the amphitheater area of Shipyard Park.

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