By Chuck Tanowitz
Innovation doesn’t come just from a lab or a computer screen or an engineering bench, it emerges when people blend the arts and sciences to create something entirely new.
With that in mind, the N-Squared Innovation District is working with the Newton Upper Falls community and the artists collective Studios Without Walls to bring an outdoor sculpture exhibit to the Upper Falls Greenway this summer.
The project will feature 15 sculptures along a portion of the mile-long greenway. The free exhibition opens June 25 with a celebration in Pettee Square and will remain on view through Sept. 9.
One of Newton’s hidden gems, the Greenway is a one-mile multi-use path that runs parallel to Needham Street, along an abandoned railroad spur. It is at once a bucolic setting and a connection back to the area’s industrial path when it once carried the gravel from Needham that filled in Boston’s Back Bay.
“We want the greenway to be a place where ‘happy accidents’ happen this summer as artists, arts lovers, area employees, shoppers, dog walkers, cyclists and others converge,” said Newton-Needham Regional Chamber President Greg Reibman.“By joining the arts community with local residents and businesses, the N-Squared Innovation District initiative aims to activate the greenway as a gathering point for everyone.”
All the exhibition’s sculptures are designed to fit into the landscape, with some being commissioned specifically for this property.
This includes a piece titled Qwgklak of Upper Falls, a plant creature that could reach 6 to 8 feet tall. Other artwork will extend up trees, hang overhead and line the fences along the path. Still others will be stand-alone pieces of all types and style. One will literally force you to choose your direction, including peace, love, money, etc.
“The Village Bank believes in the potential being unleashed in the N-Squared Innovation District,” said Village Bank CEO Joseph De Vito, one of the exhibition’s presenting sponsors. “We are big supporters of the arts and it’s great to see when business, arts and culture collaborate to bring people together. It’s this type of project that strengthens our community and makes Newton a vibrant place to live and work.”
In addition to the support from The Village Bank, the Greenway Arts project is supported by presenting sponsor Northland Development Corp, with additional support from Crosspoint Associates’ Newton Nexus, the Charles River Neighborhood Foundation, Bay Colony Rail Trail and the New Art Center in Newton, Inc.
Twenty private individuals also provided generous support through a crowdfunding campaign making the project a true community endeavor.
“This is the kind of community effort that we want to see in this neighborhood,” said Kent Gonzales, vice president with Northland Development Corp. “The Upper Falls Greenway is a great asset to the area and the local residents certainly understand its value. We hope that the exhibit can bring in others to show off the beauty and tranquility we have in this otherwise busy setting.”
The mile-plus linear Greenway begins behind National Lumber on Needham Street and terminates at a scenic overlook of the Charles River. Development was a community effort that that resulted in the opening in 2016.A spur connecting the trail to the Newton Nexus shops opened in May. The trail surface itself is rolled stone dust, a nice surface for walking and bicycling.
The art will be at various points along the trail starting at Oak Street near the Depot Café and extending down the trail to the Avalon Apartments.