Whatever progress the Hub has made in recent years in improving the plights of struggling up-and-coming artists, it goes without saying that there’s always more work to be done.
So when Tavern Road chef-owner Louis DiBiccari devised CREATE Boston, the initial idea was simple: Develop a new and novel approach for fostering and hyping the local artistic community. Period.
“People don’t pay enough attention to [the artists],” he says. “The media doesn’t, the city doesn’t. And they’re a vital part of the community. Cities like Montreal and San Francisco, Chicago and New York, understand that artists are an incredibly vital part of a balanced community.” That, he says, is why the talent drain afflicting Boston is perpetuated itself—artists simply must leave in order to survive. And that’s not just a pithy observation from an outsider.
DiBiccari’s Congress Street restaurant, Tavern Road, is something of an homage not only to the arts community in Boston (and his master sculptor uncle), but to the very neighborhood it sits in, with a 30-foot collaborative wall mural installation by three notable local artists, Dana Woulfe, Josh Falk, and Kenji Nakayama.
Eventually, DiBiccari’s dedication to the local arts scene provided a possible a possible solution to the lack of city-backed planning for artists, especially those who once were part of the Fort Point Channel network and relocated to the likes of Providence, Lowell, Brockton, and Lawrence after a decade of urban development sent them packing became evident.
“This city gets down on its knees and fucking blows anyone in the restaurant industry, and they love it,” he says. “So we use [CREATE] to get beyond the four walls of our restaurant. There’s so much else going on in the city; we can help to sort of pick it up a little bit.”
In this case by orchestrating an event in which local artists pair their talents with chosen rising stars of the Greater Boston restaurant scene, fusing the two creative industries together.
“I thought [if] I can’t get Tom Brady to come stand up next to an artist [at an event], I can certainly get chefs from places like Clio, Puritan and Company, Toro, Bondir, and Menton, and I can put them next to artists,” he says. “If you look at Fort Point, which is New England’s oldest and largest artist community, all the renovations for the last 10 years or so have displaced the [actual] artists living there. So the idea was to create that sense of community for them [again].”
Fast forward four years and as many versions of the unique-to-Boston day of food, music, drinking, and interactive art, and you have an event that joins both worlds in a single collective whole. The biggest change for the event this year is the way the artists and chefs plan to collaborate after initial growing pains resulted in some muddled execution.
“Now we’re looking for a wow factor or ‘Holy shit!’ factor,” DiBiccari says. “The kind of setup where you walk in the room and there’s something special about it and not easy to comprehend at first, something that forces you to think about it, maybe ask the artist questions about what’s going on, or feel compelled to ask the chef about the food they created … thus making it all the more interactive, with new risks being taken to engage [everyone] attending.”
The 2015 artistic lineup (so far) features, among others, one of the three artists who created the restaurant’s mural, Nakayama, and Lawrence-based photographic artist Markus Sebastiano, who has been working over the past year to hone and develop his work: Plexiglas photographic prints laid in with wood, metal, recyclables, and other repurposed materials. Culinary talent from the likes of Mei Mei, Asta, Blue Dragon, Deep Ellum, and Café ArtScience will join them at Fairmont Battery Wharf, with live music performances by local swamp-rock darlings TigermanWOAH!, and beloved hip-hop artist Moe Pope, who is also presenting separate artwork in addition to keeping the party going onstage.
Ultimately, collaboration and building synergy between all the creative fields here in Boston is the driving force, with each year building upon the last.
DiBiccari says: “This year is already light-years ahead of where it was in year one.”