Franklin Park’s Picnic Grove to host ArtWeek Boston event Sunday afternoon

Boston has so many special arts events that it’s sometimes hard to keep them all straight. But this weekend the folks at the Franklin Park Coalition will co-sponsor for the second year a one-afternoon Art Grove as part of the citywide Fall 2016 ArtWeek Boston, which runs from this Friday to Oct. 9.

This ten-day award-winning festival features unique and unexpected experiences that are participatory, interactive, or offer behind-the-scenes access to artists or the creative process. Each ArtWeek event promises to be a one-of-a-kind celebration.

Locally, the most intriguing of those “celebrations” will unfold in Franklin Park’s Wilderness Picnic Grove with sculptural installation, music, performance, dance, and food. This free event runs noon to 6 p.m. this coming Saturday, Oct. 1, with a rain date on Sunday.

The programming includes local activist artists: Emcee “Mistah” Matt Parker, A2Z Talent, Carolina Prieto, Cagen Luse, Castle of Our Skins, Danza Orgánica, and Odell “O.F.A.T.S.” Ruffin.

The artworks in this year’s Art Grove respond in different ways to the theme of “The Density of Home” suggested by Barbara Lewis, director of the Trotter Institute for the Study of Black History and Culture at UMass Boston.

In a telephone conversation with the Reporter, Lewis explained the multiplicity of connotations of her proposed motif: “‘Home’ is such a fraught term these days. In fact, the value of home is always and has always been constantly changing. I was thinking of some of the new challenges ranging from national ones like the ongoing unrest in Ferguson to the gentrification, displacement and evaporation of affordable housing right here in Roxbury and Dorchester.

“Some communities are dense in that there is little breathing space; in others, homeowners are surrounded by more private property,” she said.

Art Grove 2016 Creative Director Carolyn Lewenberg explains that the event received less funding than last year (though the group is grateful to the Boston Cultural Council for the thousands they did get).

Instead of being able to fund installations in the midst of the woods that intrepid art-lovers could explore as they did in 2015, this year the organization opted for a “linear” event, a succession of presentations with the first and last, the more uplifting ones, in the open lawn space by the Valley Gates.

For the two middle ones, which deal with the challenging theme of incarceration, the audience actually has to follow the performers into the woods.

The artists selected for the 2016 Art Grove came at Lewis’ suggestion from many different angles.
The afternoon opens with young people singing hits from the ‘60s to the present ,which helps people “feel at home.” Deeper in the woods, Puerto Rican dance artist Marsha Parrilla and her contemporary dance troupe Danza Orgánica will present “Running in Stillness,” her current work exploring the impact of mass incarceration on women and the community.

Then educational arts ensemble Castle of Our Skins will explore the theme of home “through a black lens” including reflections on imprisonment of men.

The afternoon will end on a more festive note with Dope Art Gallery sharing “homegrown” visual and performing art.

Spectators are reminded to blankets or easily moved folding chairs to sit on as the show moves around.

The Franklin Park Art Grove hopes to bridge “community art” and “fine art” through high quality, relevant, and participatory opportunities for audiences to connect with the arts, Franklin Park, and other people in a new way.