Boston at Christmas: Beauty, History, and That New England Frankness
There is a wonderful painting by the 19th-century American artist Childe Hassam titled "Boston Common at Twilight" (above)—a wintry scene that is nevertheless warm and inviting, with golden backlighting and gaslights twinkling-on at the end of the day; its street cars and formally attired people feeding the hungry wintering birds.
Hassam's vision of Boston mirrors my own feeling about the place, with its patina of history and beautiful architecture, its gardens and green spaces and its great institutions. Having lived in the city for nearly a decade, and in its nearby orbit in Gloucester for another 30 years or more, I love the place and consider it to be my home.
As most people know, Boston was founded only 10 years after the Plymouth landing of 1620, and was birthplace to many of the founding figures in American history (as well as home to the original "Tea Party" and the beginning of the American War of Independence in 1776).
Boston is a unique place in so many ways—but chiefly, to my mind, because of its educational, medical, and artistic institutions, some of the best and most time-honored in the land. Boston has five world-class art museums, among them the MFA, the Isabella Stewart Gardiner, the Fogg and Sackler museums at Harvard, and the Institute of Contemporary Art. These institutions as well as the city itself—a wonderful classroom and museum all its own—have nourished me for most of my adult life, and all my professional life.
Forty years ago, as a young artist looking for training, I moved to Boston and enrolled in art school. I slowly gained knowledge of this place and its history, and I grew to love the particular feel of its winding streets, the great Charles River dividing Boston from Cambridge, and the lovely architecture that echoes its European ancestry. I found the relatively quiet pace and tenor of city life here to be hospitable to my particular artistic dreams, which included attempting to make art that evokes a contemplative space and time.