At the far end of the Emerald Necklace is the not so hidden jewel that is Franklin Park. Named for Benjamin Franklin and designed by Frederick Law Olmsted this 527 acre park is the largest of the parks that make up Boston’s iconic Emerald Necklace, a chain of beautifully designed and cultivated parks that almost encircle Boston and help people reconnect to nature. This sprawling verdant collage of forests, hiking paths, athletic areas, a golf course, and of course the Franklin Park Zoo offers a place of cool quiet repose, community, family and good times.

SO, It was much to my delight when it was announced that a Pop-up art Art Grove was to be happening in the Franklin Park August 8 to Aug 9, 2015, from 11am to 8pm.   In the past few years, the City of Boston has been working hard to revitalize the area and elevate the arts with an ambitious agenda of rotating public art installations but this was the first time I’d ever heard of a “Pop-Up Art Grove.” Obviously, my curiosity was immediately piqued.

Even without knowing that a Pop-Up Art Grove was planned you could probably wander beneath the canopy of the Wilderness Picnic Grove and understand that the natural beauty of the park was an ideal setting for the kind of surreal art experience waiting for you.

The Pop Up Art Grove experience could include guided tours, spoken word, food trucks, art interventions, and youth led art workshops and the performances that happened at different points in time. The installations were varied and interactive and the exhibit unfolded slowly as you meandered through the picnic grove happening across small painted houses, storytellers and strange performance pieces that could only be described as Buñuelian.   More people arrived as the afternoon went on, but it never felt crowded so much as communal.   Of all the art I’ve seen so far this summer, I think this was consistently some of the best with each piece exploring the themes of connectivity, community and longevity.  The artists and performances who were present throughout weekend, helped create an additional layer of experience through exciting interactions that helped generate new connections between the visitors, the artwork and the park.

“The Pop-Up: Franklin Park Art Grove is a collaboration between the Boston Art Commission, Franklin Park Coalition, the William Monroe Trotter Institute, and the Boston Parks and Recreation Department,” according to the press release.  

Franklin Park is currently open and has guidelines for visiting the park in accordance with CDC guidance available on their website. emeraldnecklace.org

Posted by:Julia Swanson

Julia Swanson is a multimedia storyteller, photographer and visual artist.

One thought on “Exploring the Surreal in Franklin Park

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