forward, despite vandalism
By Rosemary Ford
LAWRENCE -- Haverhill artist Jack Welch uses his sculptures to convey
Last year, he wanted his gigantic shopping cart called "Resurrection"
part of an outdoor sculptural exhibit called ArtWalk along Lawrence's
Canal -- to inspire public debate about the cleanup of the canal. But
also became a recepticle for trash and the target negative comments.
So this year Welch wanted to give the public what they wanted -- something
pretty. He built three 19-foot flowers in pots and set them adrift in
"It's just a goof on what is pretty and what is art and how some
considered pretty to some," said Welch.
This year no one is laughing, including the artists. Vandals attacked
exhibit, throwing one piece into the canal and spraying anti-war slogans
along a railing bordering the canal. They also spray painted an anti-war
message across a sculpture called "The Way of Peace." This,
inaugural ArtWalk last year suffered from vandalism in the form of a
This year's ArtWalk is going forward as planned, with 10 exhibits along
Lawrence canal, minus three vandalized items that will soon return.
"Everything is going back like (the graffiti) didn't exist,"
Terry Bastian, a co-organizer of the 10-artist exhibit. "(The artists)
have something to say. This is about a dialogue. It's evolving into a
thoughtful exhibition. I can't wait to see what is going to happen next
year. We are not going to be silenced, that's for sure."
An opening reception will officially kick off the exhibit on July 27,
most of the exhibits are in place, and organizers vow to go forward,
regardless of the vandals.
"Every time there is art in any community there is always vandalism
sort," said Bastian, also the executive director of Environmental
Lawrence organization dedicated to outdoor artistic expressions. "We
already started a dialogue with the people who spray painted the railing."
Lawrence Police Chief John J. Romero has an idea about who vandalized
show, too, but the police have no official suspects. He assigned community
police officers to investigate the graffiti.
Controversy isn't something Bastian and co-organizer Sara J.H. Ashodian
Nahant want to court with the exhibit, but so far, it does seem to follow
"It's good to shake people up a little," said Ashodian, who
was one of four
artists who participated in the show last year. "It's not good to
Last year, Bastian had his own sculpture -- a nude called "The Homeland
Secure" -- stolen and decapitated.
The evolution of that sculpture gave him the idea for his current piece,
"Currents." The rope-like structure slung across the canal collects
plants and trash in the water. With the addition of more plant life, Bastian
says "Currents" will evolve into a floating garden built on
"It's not macramé," he joked. "It's a machine that
will clean the water."
Bastian and Ashodian wanted to bring positive attention to the canal through
their exhibit while promoting contemporary art.
"I am just as interested in the truck drivers and the kids who walk
as the critics and the collectors," said Bastian, who wants to bring
the people in the public even when its risky. "It's important to
relevant as part of their lives, not just part of a museum."