While the Institute of Contemporary Art/Boston (ICA) announced it will officially open its new Watershed to the public on July 4 inside a former copper pipe factory at Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street, the ICA staff joined Mayor Martin Walsh, Massport and East Boston’s elected officials to officially cut the ribbon on the ICA new location during a soft opening last Friday.
“I want to thank the ICA Director Jill (Medvedow) and everyone at the ICA for their incredible work in bringing the Watershed to East Boston,” said Walsh. “The City of Boston is going through an important period of elevating the arts and making them front and center. We want to see arts and culture thrive in every neighborhood and that’s what the ICA’s Watershed does here in East Boston. I want to thank Jill for being a pioneer in bringing the arts to the waterfront with first ICA and sparking life in and around the waterfront in South Boston. What we are going to see here in East Boston is as waterfront development, creation of open space and parks continues, the Watershed is about the entire East Boston community and providing access to the waterfront and the arts and having residents here be part of something special. It really is a testament to the ICA’s boundless creativity and dedication to our neighborhoods. This project not only increases access to the arts but to the waterfront and to water transportation.”
According Medvedow the 15,000-square-foot, raw, industrial space is unlike anything in Boston and will expand the ICA’s artistic and educational programming on both sides of the Boston Harbor. Award-winning firm Anmahian Winton Architects has restored the historic building for new use and create a unique space for immersive artworks engaged with the site. An introductory gallery will focus on the historic shipyard, while a waterside plaza will serve as a casual gathering space.
“I want to first thank the ICA staff for delivering this beautiful building,” said Medvedow. “I have had this dream of connecting both sides of the harbor through the arts for sometime now. The arts have the power to stir the soul, spark consciousness and bring people together. This is truly a great day for all of us in the City of Boston.”
The ICA’s Seaport location and the new Watershed will connect the two historically isolated neighborhoods through a ferry services provided by Boston Harbor Cruises.The ferry service will allow visitors to the both the ICA and Watershed travel six minutes via water between both museums. The ferry will be free to ICA members, included with regular museum admission, and free to visitors age 17 and under.
“I want to thank Jill (Medvedow) for hosting this great event,” said Massport CEO Thomas Glynn. “This is a great moment in the history of East Boston.”
Glynn said Medvedow’s vision of taking an old copper pipe factory that had not been occupied for over 20 years as a location of this ICA art project is something he has never seen.
“That is vision and we are very fortunate to have Jill here in this community,” said Glynn. “She is an international leader in the arts and it was so joyess to work with her to bring something that is truly special to the neighborhood and reinforces the great success East Boston has had in the past 50 years.”
The inaugural exhibition for the Watershed will be by internationally renowned artist Diana Thater. Thater’s exhibition will center on the San Francisco native’s artwork Delphine. In this monumental work, underwater film and video footage of swimming dolphins spills across the floor, ceiling, and walls, creating an immersive underwater environment. As viewers interact with Delphine, they become performers within the artwork, their own silhouettes moving and spinning alongside the dolphins’.
In addition to Delphine, The Watershed will feature a recent sculptural video installation, A Runaway World, focused on the lives and worlds of species on the verge of extinction and the illicit economies that threaten their survival. Produced in Kenya in 2016 and 2017, A Runaway World is staged within a unique architectural environment of free-standing screen structures designed by the artist.
The Watershed will be open through October 8 in its inaugural year. Next year and moving forward, it will open to the public seasonally, from late May to early October.
“This waterfront has meant so much to this community for so many years, and it’s going to have the same importance to a whole new generation for decades to come with the arrival of the Watershed,” said Sen. Joseph Boncore. “I want to thank Jill (Medvedow) and her vision as well as Mayor Walsh for putting an emphasis on the arts in the city. This is great project that includes so many amenities we have been working to achieve across Boston, things like waterfront access, arts and waterfront transportation. This is a great project that does all those things and does them well.”
Rep. Adrian Madaro thanked Medvedow and the entire ICA staff for this investment in the neighborhood.
“This is such an exciting day,” said Madaro. “This waterfront and this shipyard has evolved over the years several times. First it was an active shipyard with longshoreman and dozens of maritime industrial uses. Then, for a long period there was nothing but a fence that separated the waterfront from the community. Now, here we are today with beautiful Piers Park and Piers Park Sailing, restaurants, HarborArts and now the ICA’s Watershed. This is truly an incredible transformation of our waterfront and shows just how far we’ve come. The Watershed really is the cherry on top of an amazing art scene in East Boston that includes the East Boston Artist Group, Zumix, and future live/work artists spaces on Condor Street To have a museum of this caliber to choose our neighborhood is awesome.”
The ICA is partnered with the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, East Boston Social Centers, Maverick Landing Community Services, Massport and Zumix to develop programming for their communities at both the ICA and the Watershed.
Like every great neighbor the ICA has done an incredible amount of work to get out and learn about their new neighborhood,” said City Councilor Lydia Edwards. “The number of community meetings and partnerships you have formed over the past year is amazing. I really think there is a real commitment of the ICA watershed not to only come to East Boston but become part of East Boston.”
The ICA Watershed will be having special preview days for the Eastie community this weekend. The hours are 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Saturday, June 30, Sunday, July 1 and Tuesday, July 3.
Mayor, ICA, Massport, Eastie community leaders and artists cut ribbon on new ICA Watershed location last Friday at the Boston Shipyard and Marina on Marginal Street.