By Kiri Coakley, news staff

Boston Cyberarts, Inc. and the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) have worked for almost five years to display the talent of local artists on the largest urban screen in New England. “Round 19” of “Art on the Marquee,” an exhibit that features nine pieces of art by nine different artists on an 80-feet tall multi-screen LED marquee at the Boston Convention & Exhibition Center in South Boston, opened on Oct. 25.

The opening night highlighted the artwork by cycling through all nine pieces without interruptions from paid advertisements or public service announcements. The artists specialize in different styles, but this variety creates a more interactive exhibit. Although some rounds have themes, which create a more cohesive style, the current round – which features moving imagery of water, air and people – has no particular set theme.

George Fifield, director of the non-profit organization Boston Cyberarts, made rounds on opening night to discuss the exhibit with artists and viewers over small appetizers and sundaes. The lofty art features movements and colors that catch and hold the attention of onlookers.

“It is very satisfying to see how happy artists get when they see their artwork 80 feet tall on a well-trafficked building in New England,” Fifield said, “It really is a thrill to have artists participate.”

The artists were chosen via jury panel, rather than by Fifield, as some have been in the past.

“It was an open call to all artists in Massachusetts, since the MCCA is a state agency,” Fifield said. “Artists send in a storyboard of what their exhibit might be like, a description, link to their past work and a CV. For the jury rounds the project does not have to be complete. We see their intent. Their CV tells us that they can do this and the past work shows that they are competent.”

The jury panel typically involves members of both the MCCA and Boston Cyberarts.

“We were introduced to the MCCA people by the architect who had been working on the Marquee, since we had been having a good experience collaborating on a project at the Harbor Island Welcome Center,” Fifield said. “The MCCA invited us. They wanted to have art, and they thought that we were the right people to bring it.”

The MCCA has multiple convention centers through which a community arts program cycles.

“The program features exhibits from different neighborhoods, such as South Boston and the South End,” said Philip Crohan, MCCA communications and external relations manager. “A logical next step to include in the arts program came when the Marquee was built, and Boston Cyberarts has been a great partner.”

The Marquee is located in an area through which thousands of Boston residents and commuters traffic to and from work.

“We have preview nights for these rounds for which we invite people to come have an initial look at the Marquee alongside the artists, and especially on those nights you see everyone stopping to check out the art,” said Mark O’Leary, communications and external relations coordinator. “Even besides that, there are always people looking at it. There are a lot of buildings in the area but it’s such a huge display that you can still see the Marquee. It definitely catches everyone’s eyes.”

The art draws attention for both its size and the dynamic movements on the Marquee. The nine features include “My Three Sided Moon” by Sarah Brophy, “The Waters of Life: A Refuge” by Justin Freed and “Greenland Ittoqqortoormiit,” a collaboration between Ellen Wetmore and Adriene Hughes.

Jon Forsyth, creator of “Aquarium Dreams,” teaches music video production in Valencia, Spain for six months every year.

“This past year when I was there I took some footage in their wonderful aquarium,” Forsyth said. “They have one of those underwater glass tunnels with the fish swimming above you. There was a school of huge fish that I took some footage of. For the artwork here, you might not realize that it’s actually fish since I altered it, enlarged it, recolored it. But the undulating movements are very natural, and when I mention the inspiration you can see that they’re actually fish.”

Fifield believes that such displays are the future of public art.

“Public art like this builds a large media signage. It’s instantaneous,” Fifield said. “This signage is going to not only be in public art, it’s going to be in interior design, in fashion. The day is going to come where we have to decide what piece of video we want to download to our t-shirt. The world is becoming more media-based and public art should reflect that. That’s what the ‘Art on the Marquee’ does in a bright, shiny way.”

Photo by Dylan Shen