A throng of people chanted “Fenway Rocks! Fenway Rocks!” led by Councilor Tito Jackson, as the Kickoff Ceremony of the 13th annual Opening Our Doors (OOD) festival officially began on Monday, October 13. The event, organized by The Fenway Alliance, is a seasonal favorite featuring over 60 live performances, art exhibits, public art installations, and experiential activities such as kite building, mural painting, and theatre improve workshops, all provided to the public at no cost.
This year, Opening Our Doors featured several new highlights, one of which was a new smartphone app developed by New Art Love. With over 60 choices occurring in 20 locations throughout the Fenway, the app allowed people to learn more about each activity and hosting organization/artist, locate them on an interactive map, and to even curate their OOD experience ahead of time by selecting and saving activities of their choice. In addition to the app, the event presented for the first time a 30-piece Cymbal Jungle of Sound, organized by Maria Finklemeier of Kadence Arts, on Evans Way Park, whose cymbals were placed underneath the shimmering beauty and aural delights of Sparkle+Chime, a public art installation. Sparkle+Chime, designed by Jean Kim of Shepley Bulfinch, is a part of the Alliance’s Public By Design initiative, which aims to support artists and introduce more public art to the Fenway Cultural District: the installation will be up through the month of October.
On the Christian Science Plaza, Alex Cook, an artist based out of Jamaica Plains, and another new addition to Opening Our Doors, invited children and passersby to help paint a community mural piece with the words “You Are Needed” embedded in the design. The message embodied the mission of Opening Our Doors in not only providing opportunities to experience the cultural riches of the Fenway, but in also recognizing the importance of every individual, whether as an artist, policymaker, citizen, etc., in creating a livable and inclusive community. Indeed, even when experiencing Opening Our Doors just on the Christian Science Plaza, a person could wander into the astounding stained-glass Mapparium at The Mary Baker Eddy Library, sit in on an organ concert at The Mother Church, draw on the Plaza with Sidewalk Sam, listen to the talented youth of the Sociedad Latina Music Club Hose, watch a drumming and dance performance by La Piñata, hear vocalists from ZUMIX—all of which underscores the value of recognizing and collaborating with a wide range of community partners.
And the above is just a small piece of Opening Our Doors. At Northeastern University’s Fenway Center, Mission Hill poet Brian Williams and his team shared inspiring words and songs; a chamber group from Handle and Haydn performed pieces by Beethoven and Haydn; massmouth, inc. storytellers held a storytelling workshop and slam. On Huntington Avenue, the newly renovated YMCA opened its doors and welcomed people to kite-building and indoor kite-flying with Archie Stewart, and to take part in dance workshops held by Sociedad Latina and Urbanity Dance. In addition, Wheelock Family Theatre, Boston Children’s Theatre and the Huntington Theatre Company each provided a sneak peak at their Fall season shows, along with theatre improve workshops and behind-the-scenes tours of the design of various stage sets. Fenway Studios also held an Open House, showcasing several artists’ works and studios in a building that is the oldest, continuously functioning space dedicated solely to artists.
In recent years, the Fenway has become a place in transition, with the opening of new businesses and academic centers, in addition to the designation of the neighborhood by the Massachusetts Cultural Council as one of the first in five Cultural Districts in the Commonwealth in March 2012. The Fenway Alliance has played a significant role in ushering in this change through building collaborative partnerships with the area’s cultural, academic and business entities, and through hosting events such as Opening Our Doors that allow the greater public to experience the cultural riches of the Fenway Cultural District. As Councilor Michelle Wu stated at this year’s Kick-off Ceremony, arts and culture are essential in cultivating vibrant and healthy neighborhoods, and the Alliance looks forward to inviting everyone to the 14th Opening Our Doors in 2015.