Upcoming Candlelit Labyrinth Walk Tops off Year of Original Programs

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BOSTON — Lucas Cowan, public art curator of the Rose Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, spoke recently at a HUBweek event and had the following to say about the Armenian Heritage Park on The Greenway: “Every day the Park is filled with families, children and adults…Just as the sculptural element changes yearly and is reconfigured…this place grants permission for contemplative thought, meditation and solace…”

So many are visiting, spending time at this “gem on the Greenway” (Boston Globe 2015). Some relax on a bench or read, and some enjoy lunch or share a moment with a friend or colleague. Many walk the labyrinth — a daily ritual to quiet the mind — and most marvel at the abstract sculpture, returning each year to view its newest sculptural shape, and all pause to read the inscription on the reflecting pool.

On Sunday, December 17, the annual Candlelit Labyrinth Peace Walk will wrap up a series of programs at the park for the year. All are invited to enjoy the sparkle of the park in the evening from 4:30 to 6 p.m., considered “Boston’s Newest Holiday Tradition” (Metro, 2015). Many will walk the candlelit labyrinth, some will tie a colorful ribbon with a wish on the Wishing Tree and all will enjoy hot chocolate and delicious cookies, hosted by the Bostonian Hotel. At 5:45 p.m., Ladies First, an a cappella group from Wellesley High School, will perform. Although there is no charge, an RSVP is appreciated by email hello@Armenian HeritagePark.org.

During the year, programs are varied and interesting to build community, to come together on common ground. Several programs are supported by one of the Park’s endowed funds; most all depend on generous gifts-in-kind. Some are featured programs during ArtWeek Boston and HubWeek. Most programs are offered in collaboration with leading organizations and institutions among them Age-Friendly Boston, The Bostonian Hotel, The Bostonian Society/Old State House, City of Boston, The Eliot K-8 Innovation School/Boston Public Schools, Faneuil Hall, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Friends of Christopher Columbus Park, Greenway Conservancy, Hollister Staffing, Labyrinth Guild of New England, MEM Tea Imports, Museum of Fine Arts, NorthEndWaterfront.com, Sharon Merrill Associates, US District Court Massachusetts and Webster Bank. Friends of the Heritage Park, open to all, plan and implement many of the programs. The Friends is an initiative of the Armenian Heritage Foundation. Dedicated volunteers also oversee the Park’s care and the annual reconfiguration of the Abstract Sculpture.

Each new year begins with the annual reconfiguration of the abstract sculpture. Every year, during a Sunday morning in late March or early April, the sculpture, a split rhomboid dodecahedron, is reconfigured into a new sculptural shape, symbolic of all who were pulled away from their country of origin and came to these shores, establishing themselves in new and different ways. A crane lifts and reconfigures the two halves, made of steel and aluminum, under the direction of A&A Industries, fabricator of the abstract sculpture, their generous gift-in-kind. The park’s Charles and Doreen Bilezikian Endowed Fund supports the annual configuration.

During April, the annual April 24 Genocide Commemoration at the Park, planned by the Massachusetts Armenian Genocide Commemoration Committee is a “remembrance that both honors and commemorates lives lost…and to reflect on the lessons it holds for our lives today.” Speakers included the Primate of the Armenian Diocese (Eastern) Archbishop Khajag Barsamian, former US Ambassador to Armenia John Evans, Middlesex County Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and performances by Sayat Nova Dance Company and violinist Sammy Andonian.

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Also in April is the annual Walk Against Genocide at the Park, planned by the Massachusetts Coalition to Save Darfur. The walk starts at the New England Holocaust Memorial and proceeds to Armenian Heritage Park. Speakers at both sites focused on the genocides during the 20th and 21st centuries.

On the first Saturday in May, Experience Public Art, an ArtWeek Boston featured program, was held at the park. The two-part program opened with World Labyrinth Day: Walk as One at 1 p.m. followed by the reception to view the abstract sculpture’s new configuration. On May 6, several walked the labyrinth under the mist, some under umbrellas, joining people in cities and towns in 35 countries world-wide, all participating in World Labyrinth Day, the international initiative of the Labyrinth Society. The reception to view the 2017 configuration of the sculpture was to follow with WGBH Arts Editor Jared Bowen offering remarks, if it were not for the rain. Tea and Desserts were to have been hosted by Eastern Lamejun and MEM Tea Imports.

ArtWeek Boston is the annual award-winning festival that features unique and creative experiences.

In early June, Let’s Party @The Kitchen was held at the Boston Public Market to benefit the Park’s year-round care. The evening featured four Chefs preparing a signature dish — Bedros DerVartanian, Eastern Lamejun Bakers; Andrew Janjigian, American’s Test Kitchen and Cook’s Illustrated; Jason Reed, Vicki Lee’s and Nathan Kibarian, Bastille Kitchen.

Wines were provided by Tutunjian Estate Vineyards; hand-roasted nuts were courtesy of Fastachi. Wendy Semonian, publisher of the Improper Bostonian was the evening’s mistress of ceremonies.

During June, July and August and in collaboration with Age-Friendly Boston, the inaugural Tea & Tranquility series was held on the third Wednesday of the month from 5:30-7 p.m. Many working and living in downtown and greater Boston came together to meet and greet, walk the Labyrinth and enjoy Tea & Desserts, hosted by the Bostonian Hotel and MEM Tea Imports. For first-time walkers, an introduction to walking a Labyrinth was offered.

September is the month for the annual. Sunday Afternoon at the Park is a delightful afternoon on Sunday, September 17 for all ages. WCVB TV5 Cindy Fitzgibbon was emcee, joined by her young son. Greg Krikorian’s All-Star Ensemble played as many danced, including the Red Sox’s Wally the Green Monster and his little sister, Tessie. Face painting “for kids by kids” was new this year and also a highlight: HP Hood ice cream sandwiches.

In celebration of the immigrant experience on Thursday, September 21, the welcome reception for new citizens following the naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall was held at the park. Funded by the Anna and Noubar Afeyan Fund, the annual welcome reception is in keeping with a key theme of the park to acknowledge the history of Boston as a port of entry for immigrants worldwide and celebrate contributions to the richness of American life and culture. This year, Judge Indira Talwani, US District Court of Massachusetts presided over the naturalization ceremony at Faneuil Hall and, at the invitation of Judge Rya Zobel (retired), offered the welcoming remarks during the reception at the park. Talwani was introduced by Koutoujian. Each new citizen received a gift from the Bostonian Society/Old State House, the Museum of Fine Arts Boston and Greenway Conservancy.

During October, Celebrating Public Art! two HUBweek featured programs were held at the park. HUBweek, founded by the Boston Globe, Harvard, MIT and MGH, “brings together the most creative and inventive minds in art, science and technology.”

The two-day program opened on October 10 with the fourth annual “Reducing and Managing Stress: Walking the Labyrinth.” Kip Hollister, president and founder of Hollister Staffing and Hollister Institute, introduced the benefits of walking a labyrinth, or meditative walking. David Calusdian, president of the Boston-based Sharon Merrill Associates offered the introduction. A networking reception followed at Hollister Staffing, 75 State St. The October 11 program, “Geometry as Public Art: Celebrating the Immigrant Experience,” featured Greg Kerkorian, principal, GB Kerkorian Partners Insurance; Lucas Cowan, public art curator, Greenway Conservancy; Don Tellalian, AIA and Morgan Atkins, coordinator of culture and school climate for the Eliot K-8 Innovation School, Boston Public School in the North End with three students who shared experiences through poetry and verse. A reception followed at the park hosted by the Bostonian Hotel and MEM Tea Imports.

Inspired by the visits of school children to the park, a team of educators from Friends of Heritage Park have developed an innovative school-based curriculum — Geometry as Public Art: Telling a Story. The curriculum is designed to spark greater awareness of geometry as art and to celebrate what unites and connects us, while building common ground. Presently, the curriculum is being piloted by the fourth-grade classes at the Eliot School in the North End.

Fundraising continues to fully endow the park’s Endowed Fund for Care so that the park is impeccably maintained year-round. Contributions may be made on-line at ArmenianHeritagePark.org or by mail with a check, made payable to the Armenian Heritage Foundation, to Lucy Hoosian, Secretary, Armenian Heritage Foundation, 22 Richards Road, Watertown, MA 02472. Contributions are tax-deductible to the extent of the law.