The FOSEL initiative to use the windows of the library window as a showcase for local artists, non-profits and creative entrepreneurs currently features an illustration and explanation of the two groundwater/filtration LightWells that became part of Library Park last year. Michelle Laboy, assistant professor of architecture and urban planning at Northeastern, created the LightWell project with her associates Seth Wiseman and Joshua Fiedler. It was one of the winners of the Walsh administration’s 2014 Public Space Invitational competition.
For Laboy, a Chester Square resident, the solar-powered LightWells inspire several interpretations: as an art object, a seat, a planter, a light fixture, and a vegetated dry well for storm-water infiltration. The LightWells light up at night as a softly glowing art object with the energy collected by solar receptors installed on the library's roofs during the day. The window installation also shows an LED-lit version of the LightWells, which were enthusiastically approved for Library Park by the South End's Landmark Commission. Two weeks ago, local landscape company UrbGardens generously planted and landscaped around their two locations in the park as a gift to the library and the neighborhood. A previous, and equally generous donation of plantings and landscaping by Mahoney's Garden Center fell victim to a harsh winter followed by a summer of drought.
Since it was initiated by FOSEL board member Karen Watson, an interior designer by profession, the Window Take-over project has brightened one of the many attractive window spaces in the library's building that was originally designed in the late 1960s by the prominent architectural firm, Mitchell Giurgola. The first installation was a whimsical one of kites made of newspapers and construction tape, called Throwing Caution to the Wind. A local artist specializing in wire sculptures, Will Corcoran, took over the library windows in April and May with creations based on the tales of the Grimm Brothers and Edgar Allan Poe.
The wire sculptures were followed by a cheerful and spring-like display of summer dresses and books put together by local entrepreneur Caroline Leed. Her on-line business, Smiling Button, features girls' garb based on what is worn by characters in children's books. Leed donated a percentage of her dresses' June sales to the Reading Is Fundamental charitable foundation.
FOSEL is currently finalizing the guidelines for the project, working closely with head librarian, Anne Smart. The key element is that the exhibits are informative about the library, its mission, and the community it serves. FOSEL board members are working on several potential installations of various themes, including the subject of urban birding, and how children acquire foreign language skills, among other things. All inquiries are most welcome and should be directed to Anne Smart at the South End library. Copies of the guidelines will be available at the circulation desk as soon as they are completed.