Metro, Arts, Newton

Submissions Now Open for Newton FenceART Initiative

Newton Community Pride (NCP) is calling on Newton artists to submit to FenceART, a year-long public project dedicated to bringing beautiful art to neighborhoods throughout the city, according to the NCP website

“The artists love this project,” Ellen Fisher, the curator of FenceART, said. “Everyone is very excited about it, and the fact that the public also seems to be pretty happy [with it] is really nice.”

According to Fisher, each year a jury selects 20 works—ranging in styles and mediums—to be printed on high-quality vinyl banners. Submissions for next year’s display will be accepted until Dec. 1, according to NCP’s website. Banners will be put up in February 2022 and will stay in rotation for the remainder of that year. 

As FenceART is sponsored by NCP, the artists participating do not need to pay a submission fee or pay for the production of their banners, something that Fisher said is an important element of any public art project. 

Fisher said what makes FenceART so special is the fact that the banners change from location to location. The banners, placed in groups, are rotated to five fence locations around the city for roughly 10 weeks at a time. 

“We try to vary the work a lot in each group so there’s a good likelihood that you’re going to really like something in that group,” Fisher said. “So you always get to be looking forward to what’s coming next.”

Banner locations for 2021 included the Newton Free Library, the Newton Senior Center, Watertown St. at Bridge St., Good Shepherd Church, and the Newton Cemetery. 

“[At] almost every location … there’ll be at least one person who stops and says, ‘This is wonderful. Thank you so much. I’m looking forward to what you’re putting up next,’” Fisher said.

Gloria Gavris, the chair of NCP’s board of directors, said walking by and seeing about 20 pieces of original artwork on various fences throughout the city is whimsical, entertaining, and beautiful. According to Gavris, this will be NCP’s seventh year holding FenceART, which is just one of the nonprofit’s numerous projects in public art, such as the Newton Out Doors project, service, and city beautification.

“You’ll see a particular location [while] you might walk your children to school every day or go to the post office … but then all of a sudden, it’ll change,” Gavris said. 

The initiative started in collaboration with Linda Plaut, Newton’s former director of cultural affairs, who was looking to experiment with different public projects like it. FenceART was also partially inspired by Justine Wiltshire Cohen, owner of local yoga studio Down Under Yoga, who was already running a similar art banner project in Newton Highlands for several years, Fisher said.  

“It’s very heartwarming [and] it’s really fun to be out there doing that for the public,” Fisher said. “We like the idea that we’re putting quality work sort of just in the way of people who happen to be coming by.”

Featured Image Courtesy of Ellen Ishkanian

November 7, 2021