Sleeping Moon: Peabody Square Ashmont

First in a series about Dorchester projects I’ve been fortunate to help to fruition over the years:

click on image for sleeping moon mapSleeping Moon, dedicated in October 2010 in Ashmont, Peabody Square Dorchester, MA In 2005 the Dorchester Arts Collaborative (DAC) started planning for a public art identifier for Peabody Square in Ashmont, Dorchester MA. The public art installation was timed to coincide with a $16.5 million initiative by the city of Boston to address intersections along the Dorchester Avenue Corridor – part of that initiative was  a $2.5 million project to reconfigure the busy intersection at Dorchester Avenue, Talbot Avenue, and Ashmont Street for enhancing pedestrian safety and calming traffic flow. This Peabody Square ReDesign* project was in turn linked to two more projects – an $84 million complete reconstruction of the MBTA’s Ashmont Red Line terminus, and The Carruth, a $50 million mixed-use transit-oriented development (TOD) adjacent to Ashmont Station.  The thinking was to integrate public art into the planning and construction mix, rather than insert it after the fact.

About the Site:  In 1879, a snowstorm detour led Colonel Oliver White Peabody (1834-1896), founder of the brokerage firm Kidder, Peabody & Company, and his wife to invest in the Ashmont area – over  time they helped build All Saints Ashmont church and the elegant Peabody Apartments, and donated the land out front to the city of Boston in 1893 for use as a park. The Square was later named in honor of Colonel Peabody, and a commemorative granite horse drinking trough and a distinguished street clock were also added to the park. See this link and this other link for lots more on the Colonel and the nineteenth century development of Peabody Square. Today Ashmont Peabody Square is a bustling focal point for surrounding residential neighborhoods, biking and driving commuters, and over 17,000 daily Red Line transit riders.

DAC and the Saint Mark’s Area Main Street (SMAMS), a local small business and economic development organization, collaborated on the Peabody Square Public Art Project** to help enhance the economic, environmental and cultural vitality of the Square and surrounding neighborhoods. A planning grant from the Edward Ingersoll Browne Trust supported the community-led artist selection process that culminated in choosing renowned local sculptor Joseph Wheelwright to create the “Sleeping Moon,” a 9 foot diameter bronze sculpture dedicated in October 2012.

In June 2005 the city of Boston’s Browne Fund awarded DAC a $15,000 planning grant for Phase I of the Peabody Square project. By September 2005 the Peabody Square Public Arts Committee (PSPAC) was formed to oversee the planning and artist selection process, and a consultant chosen to help develop a framework and timeline (see below). That consultant, UrbanArts, guided the community process, which was deliberately and consistently made open to the residents of Dorchester – PSPAC meetings drew between 15-60 residents who represented the diversity of this community. Once underway the process moved quickly, it took less than four months – from January 15, 2006 date of the first community meeting to the announcement of the selected artist on May 1, 2006. Key components of the process – artists were required to submit their proposals anonymously, all 20 submissions were exhibited at a local library for community review, a transparent voting process and public invitation to all meetings, which were open to the public – insured a successful outcome (despite a subsequent site change from the city of Boston-owned historic clock park to the MBTA-owned Ashmont Station plaza), a high quality public artwork that has been incorporated into community life in Peabody Square.

Sleeping Moon TIMELINE

Dorchester Arts Collaborative begins Public Art Planning meetings, applies for Browne Fund grant 2005
Browne Fund Phase 1 planning grant awarded June 2005 $15,000
Interview 3 and select 1 consultant (UrbanArts) Summer 2005
Peabody Sq Public Art Committee (PSPAC) formed Sept 2005
1st Community meeting Jan 12, 2006
RFP to Artists released by UA Jan 30, 2006
Pre-proposal  / site visit Feb 4, 2006
Intent to apply deadline Mar 6, 2006
Proposals due – deadline Mar 27, 2006
Community review of all 20 proposals, exhibited (anonymously) at Dorchester’s Codman Square Branch Library Mar 31 – Apr 7, 2006
Community reception with residents and artists at Codman Library Apr 3, 2006 (5:30-8pm)
Notification of 3 finalists Apr 12, 2006
Finalists panel interview with PSPAC Apr 25, 2006
Winning artist announced May 1, 2006
J. Wheelwright Community Talk/Phase II June 2006
Construction begins Ashmont T Station & The Carruth TOD August 2006
Presentation to the Browne Fund for art installation grant Jan 2007
Community Fundraising brainstorm meeting, fundraising consultant retained (Becky Butler) Feb 2007
Boston Arts Commission presentation Feb 2007
Grant application – City of Boston Small Changes $9,999 Apr 2007 Not funded
Grant application – Henderson Fund $35,000 Apr 2007 Not funded
Grant application – NEFA Apr 2007 $30,000 Jun ‘07
Community fundraising begins (inc. Trinity Financial, developers of The Carruth TOD) June 2007, ongoing ’til install $15,000
Browne Fund Awarded July 2007 $50,000
Grant application – LEF Foundation LOI $15,000 Sept 2007 Not funded
Sculpture fabrication begins Fall ’07-Spring ‘08
The Carruth TOD completed Spring 2008
Ashmont T Station construction 2009/finished 2011
Sleeping Moon Installation, w/ additional Browne Fund grant for supplemental expenses 2010 $45,822Final Phase II – $140,822
Sleeping Moon dedication Oct 2010 Total Cost for Phases I and II $155,822

Listing of current (2014) online references:

http://www.dotnews.com/2010/large-crowd-gathers-welcome-sleeping-moon-sculpture

Video of Joseph Wheelwright for the Boston Art Commission – http://vimeo.com/10617297

http://sketchboston.tumblr.com/post/46928037090/i-absolutely-loved-the-sleeping-moon-statue-by

http://www.dotnews.com/columns/2011/ashmont-dedication-caps-long-road-red-line-justice

http://restoringtheurbanfabric.blogspot.com/2010/10/blog-post-no-2010-20-carruth-makes.html

http://www.boston.com/realestate/articles/2007/08/19/exclamation_point_on_the_dot/?page=full

http://www.historicboston.org/info/centers/other/documents/St%20Marks%20Area.pdf

Here’s a link to the complete January 2006 Call To Artists designed and written by Urban Arts in close collaboration with the PSPAC participants (list also included). Here is the Project Budget from one of the grant applications.  If you were involved in this project and have more information to add, please be in touch via email.

*The Peabody Square ReDesign Team included the Project Manager: Boston Transportation Dept. (Vineet Gupta, Director of Planning), Consultants: Judith Nitsch Engineering and Carol Johnson Associates, City of Boston Departments:  Public Works, Boston Art Commission, Boston Parks & Recreation (who nixed the original plan to site the sculpture in the Clock Park), and local residents.

**The Peabody Square Public Art Project team included the selected artist: Joseph Wheelwright, co-sponsors: Dorchester Arts Collaborative and St. Mark’s Area Main Street, and consultant: UrbanArts Institute at the Massachusetts College of Art.

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