Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (above) and State Senator Eileen Donoghue (below) formally opened their joint headquarters today at 73 East Merrimack Street in Lowell, directly across from the Lowell Memorial Auditorium.
The Global War Veterans of Greater Lowell conducted a Flag Retirement Ceremony today at Lowell’s Westlawn Ceremony. Shown above are three members of the Global War Vets (from left, Greg Page, Eric LaMarche and Thayer Eastman) with members of the Lowell High School Junior Air Force ROTC detachment and a local Girl Scout/Brownie troop also participating in the ceremony along with members of the Greater Lowell Veterans Council. In the above photo, a tattered flag is being inspected by the officer in charge of the ceremony. That flag is run up a flagpole, saluted with the Pledge of Allegiance and then run down the pole. The blue field containing the 50 white stars is then cut from the rest of the flag and is treated separately, symbolizing the inseparability of the states. The flag and others in like condition are then laid atop a fire pit and burned as everyone respectfully looks on. The Global War Veterans conduct this ceremony several times each year.
African Festival, Lowell Heritage State Park Esplanade and Sampas Pavilion, June 16, 2012. Photos by Tony Sampas.
Real Public Art
by Paul Shoesmith
The public art installation Human Construction by Carlos Dorrien sits in the heart of downtown Lowell on the Pawtucket Canal. It stands on the foundations of the former Martin’s clothing store/Strand Theatre and World Furniture buildings, perpendicularly placed off to the left and right of the Central Street bridge.
The many times I have walked through or driven by these pieces of granite in the last ten years, I never truly realized that they were even there until we walked through Lowell on the “public art” tour with my college class at UMass Lowell. The installation is so intertwined with the city, its downtown, and the backdrop of the mills that it blends into the cityscape, often escaping notice. Either it doesn’t work as a public art piece, since I never really noticed it, or works so well as public art and is so well situated in its urban context that you perhaps believe it to be the ruins of an old fallen building. This simple symbol of strength and durability mirrors the mills and certainly the city itself.
This is a powerful, strong piece of art, and with anything strong, it has evoked equally strong opinions. It does not answer all the questions of those who seek to define public art. Yes, it meets certain criteria; it is site specific and serves as an homage to the past, present and future of the community and its people. Where it fails is in its full availability to the public and because of that, it loses meaning and that interactive quality that I believe public art should have. It’s on a pier in a canal that is privately owned. It is a wonderful piece of stone with a great story and is rich with meaning. It makes a strong and abstract statement for people who are passing by to consider. . .
But doesn’t most plop art?
As with any judgmental blog entry about something that could cause some adversity, I think it is important to not only to explain myself, but to offer an answer to this dilemma. Since the air rights are owned by the city of Lowell, and not some money hungry energy company, like the canal, why not attach a walking bridge across the Pawtucket Canal on both sides allowing access to the installation from the sides that are owned by the city. There must be a way to truly include this in the realm of the wonderful Public Art collection into which the city has invested so much. Otherwise it will continue to be ignored and remain an impersonal artifact of a once great program, having the true public of Lowell wishing that the real public art of this site, The Strand Theatre, would be brought back from the dead.
Photo by Paul Shoesmith
Watch for details on ordering a new book of Lowell poems (and a few poems set on the Maine coast) from Tom Sexton, known to these blog readers for his literary exploits. Tom leaped from Lowell High School to being Poet Laureate of Alaska in not quite a single bound, but he got there. He has written and published more than a dozen books. His latest, “Bridge Street at Dusk,” will be available for purchase on July 1 from www.loompress.com. The price is $15.
The poems evoke a Lowell of the recent past as well as Lowell today through the eyes, ears, mind, and emotions of one who has been away but never really left. About his previous book, “I Think Again of Those Ancient Chinese Poets,” the New York Times Book Review wrote: “He’s an atavistic avatar of how to look hard yet write simply.” Poet Mike Casey, another Lowell writing hero, says about Tom: “He is a terrific poet, perceptive and insightful, and his poetry is coruscatingly brilliant.” Coruscatingly. You don’t hear that word every day.
The cover image is a painting by Richard Marion, inspired by the Bridge Street or Cox Bridge over the Merrimack River. Some people call this “the Central Bridge,” maybe because it connected downtown to Centralville?
By 1774 it was clear that the people of the Massachusetts Bay Colony could no longer tolerate the tightened contol imposed by England on the citzenry. Attempts were made by committees and town governements to create a constitution for all in the Colony to live by… the final document was soundly defeated as too contolling, too powerful for the governor and without a bill of rights. John Adams – one of the state of Massachusetts’ most talented and successful lawyers - was well versed in English law and philosophy and a respected authority on constitutional law. To him fell the task of crafting a document on which the people could agree. He had a brilliant mind and an elegant prose style. The document he produced in the fall of 1779 and ratified by the towns has endured, with subsequent amendments, for over 230 years.
…in 1780, the Massachusetts constitution was declared ratified. The previous fall, the world’s first constitutional convention had met in Cambridge. A committee was chosen to write a constitution for the new state; the group delegated the task to John Adams, a fortunate choice. A well-read lawyer who wrote with clarity and elegance, he completed his draft on October 30, 1779. The convention approved it with minimal changes and submitted it to the people. Town meetings all over Massachusetts debated its merits. When the votes were counted on June 15th, more than two-thirds were in favor. A fractious citizenry had approved the constitution.The document became a model for other states and nations. It is the oldest written constitution in the world still in use.