A very public comeback of public art

I admit it, public art has been something I kind of always took for granted. More or less it certainly existed everywhere I have lived before.

This really didn’t change a lot after moving to Lowell. I recall a conversation with a friend just a few month ago in which he shared his sheer fascination with the public art collections of Lowell. I felt I had no idea, yet it made me curious, and this conversation caused me to pay more attention to the city I love and call home and the art I [didn’t] see. 

I remember taking my kids for a walk to the Concord River Greenway, having no idea that Lowell’s Riverfest Carp is “not” just one piece in a rich Lowell Public Art collection. Suddenly, every time I walked down Market Street I would see Homage to Women through a very different lens, and this once (by me) ignored piece of art did what public art has the power to do: it made me pause, wonder, celebrate, admire, appreciate, be inspired and remember.

There are certainly many people in Lowell who can tell and share more about public art than I would ever try to do. But what I have learned is that public art is important, creates experiences and contributes to everyone’s quality of life. We don’t have to be “into the arts” to appreciate the beauty of public art maybe, just maybe, public art has the power to introduce art to each of us through its different mediums and our individual perceptions.
The last few months have been a comeback of sorts for public art in Lowell. Explore Lowell like a local and find one (or all) of Lowell’s amazing public art pieces. Start here.

The Dutton Street Mural

This week I was able to attend the official reveal of the Dutton Street Mural which was originally created in the late 1970’s by Leo Panas. The Irish-Acre mural is most likely one of the last of its kind and was original designed as part of a larger project of murals in different locations celebrating the immigrant heritage of Lowell.

Veils of Color

Veils of Color for Lowell, the Venice of America by Barbara Poole is a public art installation inside the remaining walls of an old mill along the lower Pawtucket Canal. The installation pays tribute to the textile history of Lowell and in a visually stunning way honors Lowell’s former textile manufacturing industry.

Picture Credit Lowell Cultural Council

Picture Credit Lowell Cultural Council

Pawtucket Prism

A very exciting comeback is the beginning with the restoration of the Pawtucket Prism. Artist Michio Ihara designed and built the Pawtucket Prism in 1987. After years of disrepair, Michio started restoration of this impressive twenty foot high sculpture that captures the essence of flowing water with sunlight and sound. Originally designed for water to flow through steel tubes moving 40 metal cubes, the redesigned installation will include 32 metal cubes.


Picture credit Michio Ihario

Picture credit Michio Ihario

These new and old public art installations are yet another reason to explore Lowell like a local to see all the great things to do and find out what so many people already know: There's A Lot To like here in Lowell


Other more recent public art installations and places include: Decatur Way, The Lowell Public Art Collection, Temporary Instalations included: #LightUpTheLocks, Downtown First Thursdays Light along canal, Human Powered Machines, and many others...