South End to Get New Public Art on Friday

Several local artists and organizations are coming together in the South End on Friday to present a new public art project. 

Brookline artist and resident Tony Lopes commissioned a sculpture designed by award-winning local artist David Phillips, called “Dancing with Spheres,” to be unveiled at 2 p.m. at the Animal Rescue League of Boston’s dog play yard at 10 Chandler St. on May 31. 

Phillips, a Medford resident, is known for his sculptures which can be found throughout the United States and Japan. His portfolio of public art includes the frogs at Boston Common’s Tadpole Playground and the snails of Quincy Square Park in Cambridge, as well as many other installations across Greater Boston. 

This is the first time in several years that a large sculpture will be unveiled in Boston. Billed as “Boston’s newest icon” and “a place where art and animals come to play,” the sculpture was designed specifically to fit into the atmosphere of the dog play yard.

This particular area of the South End at the intersection of Arlington, Herald and Tremont Streets is one of the first pieces of a renaissance of development in the area, with an the Ink Block development, a large apartment complex on Albany Street, and an incoming Whole Foods market

“All involved hope the sculpture will attract more art and animal lovers to the neighborhood,” the Animal Rescue League said in a statement. 

“The Animal Rescue League of Boston is incredibly honored to receive this major gift that celebrates why we do what we do,” said League President Mary Nee. “It stands on its own as a magnificent piece of public art that enhances the South End community and the city of Boston, and will hopefully inspire more people to adopt more animals from us and experience even greater joy.”

The work of art incorporates spheres that link various animals in motion and reference a dog and a human playing fetch, according to the ARL’s statement. Some elements have personal meaning for Phillips, such as a dog holding an ice cream cone that was inspired by his niece’s ice cream business and her dearly departed dog Scoop. A bronze feline was inspired by the artist’s 19-year-old cat Luna. Another unique part of the sculpture is its production: rarely does a sculpture go from conceptualization to completion under one roof. Phillips did the bronze casting and stainless steel fabrication at his studio, Hillside Sculpture Studios, in Medford.

The man behind the statue, Lopes, is a retired teacher from the Framingham Public School system. He said he was eager to find an artist who could recreate the sense of awe and happiness he feels when looking at an exceptional piece of public art. He reached out to Phillips, whose work he had followed for many years, and discovered they shared a deep love for animals. Through this installation, Lopes said he will be able to continue to teach people about art and animals for decades to come.

“Through its many programs and services, the Animal Rescue League of Boston has brought countless joy to animal lovers for endless years. For me, they were the obvious choice to ask David Phillips to create a work for in order to celebrate that joy,” Lopes said. “In ‘Dancing with Spheres,’ his joyful sense of whimsy imbued his creatures with a feeling of majesty and grace that is captivating.  It was an honor to have been able to play a small part in bringing this iconic ork to the League and to animal and art lovers everywhere.” 

Phillips said the statue is to serve as a reminder of the love and care animals add to our lives. 

“Tony approached me as a stranger, and with his enthusiasm, generosity and devotion to animals, we have this sculpture and I have a great friend,” Phillips said. “Our shared devotion to our pets led us to the doors of the Animal Rescue League of Boston with this gift.”

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