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water dragon


Enter the Dragon

This dazzling sculpture (right) greeted visitors last summer at the gateway to ARTventures, a public art project I helped conceive in the historic mill city of Lowell, Massachusetts. The sculptor Jay Hungate worked with community members and resident artists from Lowell’s Brush Gallery to create the piece, which used overlapping CDs for scales. Called Water Dragon, it invoked both the powerful waterways of Lowell and the culture of the city’s Cambodian community, now the second largest in the country.

ARTventures—mounted by Lowell’s Revolving Museum, of which I am the founder and artistic director—was a citywide celebration that included fire twirlers, Japanese drums, a Native American powwow, and banners inscribed with the words of Jack Kerouac, who was a native of Lowell. Neglected landmarks were transformed. The canal bridge in Lucy Larcom Park, for example, became an homage to generations of female mill workers as brightly colored dresses by various artists were suspended across it.

The smokestack you see in the background served as a beacon. We projected onto it a montage of animation, text, archival material, and other footage that brought the history of Lowell—once the world’s largest textile city—to life. The face projected onto the smokestack here is that of Sophy Leng, a member of a Cambodian dance troupe. —Jerry Beck, G92

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