The Embrace Statue honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King | Daybreak of Monument Unveiling on Boston Commons

photo caption: Daybreak photos on Boston Commons, January 13, 2023, a few hours before the Embrace unveiling ceremony- and the rain.

Hank Willis Thomas Monument to the Kings

The memorial by Hank Willis Thomas is installed just inside the Boston Common Parkman Plaza entrance (across from 151 Tremont St.). Today’s event precedes the public access to the site. Note: The area will be fenced off for a few more weeks before public access is cleared.

In addition to photo documentation of how the Embrace looks today as its readied for the unveiling event, there are photos of the art featured on the temporary fence wrap; the surroundings alongside the new installation and how the Embrace is set into the Boston Commons to give an idea of scale; and photos of the Robert Kraus Boston Massacre / Crispus Attucks Memorial (dedicated 1888), the Augustus St.-Gaudens Robert Gould Shaw | 54th Regiment Memorial (1897), and the John Paramino Signing of the Declaration of Independence tribute tablet (1925) for context and to illustrate their proximity. With the addition of the Embrace (2022) commission, three centuries of striving for equality– now including a tribute to a woman* rather than an allegory for the spirit of Freedom– are located on the Boston Commons within sight of the State House.

*Cyrus Dallin’s Ann Hutchinson and Sylvia Shaw Judson‘s Mary Dyer statues are on the State House grounds.

2023 January 13- morning of Embrace unveiling

Embrace is by American artist Hank Willis Thomas, with Mass Design Group architects. It’s 22 feet high and was fabricated in the Walla Walla Foundry. Thomas was inspired by a photograph of the spouses hugging when MLK was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964. When it’s open, people can walk through the heart of the sculpture. I’ll write more about it later. Hank Willis Thomas is now represented by Pace Gallery, NY.

American History – For Freedoms

The Embrace will fall on the Freedom Trail and Black Heritage trail. It’s incredibly moving to visit these liberty milestones sited in such close proximity.

Jan 23, 2023 photos emphasize site lines in relation to the new Embrace commission.

1888 Boston Massacre – Crispus Attucks obelisk

Boston Massacre – Crispus Attucks bronze by Robert Kraus. The 25 feet high obelisk marks the day of the Boston Massacre and includes a tribute to its victims.

Crispus Attucks, a freed black man, whaler, and sailor, was the first revolutionary killed in the battle for liberty.

The sculpture was inspired by Delacroix’s Liberty Leading the People commemorating France’s battle to overthrow the King in 1830 (decades following the French Revolution). France’s National Assembly disclosed the Declaration to the Rights of Man and Citizen in 1789. Olympe de Gouges pamplet, Déclaration des droits de la femme et de la citoyenne (the Declaration of the Rights of Women and the (Female) Citizens) came soon thereafter.

Boston Commons: Boston Massacre | Crispus Attucks Memorial on left; Embrace King tribute between the trees, past the temporary fencing; State House dome on right. Rainy day scenes are 2023. Blue skies were March 2018. All photos: C. Ryan


Sculptor John Paramino, after (John) Trumbull’s monumental painting completed in 1818 and installed in the Capitol, The Signing of the Declaration of Independence (Aug 1776), tablet set into granite with eagle carving and produced at the Gorham foundry, Providence, RI.

Closer to home in Gloucester, Massachusetts, the bronze doors on the A. Piatt Andrew bridge are by Paramino.

1897 54th Regiment Robert Gould Shaw memorial

Augustus Saint-Gaudens took nearly fourteen years to finish. The memorial was unveiled May 31, 1897. Charles McKim designed the site. The names are carved at the back The paths slope down in the direction of the new statue.

People on their phones that morning whether standing, seated or walking.

June 2022- BEFORE installation

site work

Rainy day scenes, today, Jan 13, 2023. Before scenes depicting site preparation and leafy trees dated June 2022. photos: C. Ryan

About the Embrace memorial Fence Wrap Artists

featuring Rixy Fernandez, Yotron the Don, Malakhai Pearson, Harry Scales, Zahirah Nur Truth, and Ngoc-Tran Vu

1960 – Religion, Learning, Industry

Wayfinding: Commissioned for a 1958 build out for Parkman Plaza designed by Shurcliff and Merrill, this tribute celebrates Boston’s industriousness, scholarship and spiritual history. Sculptors Arcangelo Cascieri & Adio di Biccari completed the series before a 1960 installation. The unveiling dedication was in 1961. This is the closest park entrance to see the Embrace.

blue sky photo: C. Ryan, March 2018 – Religion, Industry, Knowledge Boston Tribute 1961

Celtics banner Massachusetts State House NBA Finals

9pm NBA FINALS Game 5 tonight

Love the hometown hype! Celtics banner and the dome – Massachusetts Statehouse Beacon Hill, Boston. 6/11/2022 photos – c. ryan

Boston Commons public art: Robert Gould Shaw – Mass. 54th Regiment by Saint-Gaudens | POW MIA Freedom Tree | Boston Massacre by Robert Kraus

Three memorial monuments along a small corner of the Boston Commons by the State House  remind us of those who gave their lives for freedom.

modest Freedom Tree POW-MIA tribute


“The Freedom Tree: With the vision of universal freedom for mankind this tree is dedicated to Joseph Dunn and all  prisoners of war and missing in action. 1976.”

Read more about Maureen Dunn’s advocacy on behalf of her husband, Lt. Joseph Dunn, Vietnam War. Find the book, The Search for Canasta.

Boston Massacre Crispus Attucks patriots memorial by sculptor Robert Kraus

“In the Granary Burial Ground, in Boston, rest the remains of Crispus Attucks, Samuel  Gray, Jonas Caldwell, and Samuel Maverick, who, together with Patrick Carr, led by Crispus Attucks, were the first Martyrs in the cause of Amerian Liberty, having been shot by the British soldiers on the night of the fifth of March, AD 1770, known as the Boston Massacre.” 

Crispus Attucks was a longshoreman and whaler regarded as the first casualty in the Boston Massacre (‘the first to defy, the first to die’). In 1888, the state appropriated $10,000 for the commission. Robert Kraus was the sculptor and he worked with the foundry, Henry Bonnard Company of New York. The base and obelisk are Concord granite.

“The monument is of Concord granite, twenty five feet six inches high, and measures ten feet six inches at the base. The pedestal, which is round, except where a rectangular projection is made tosupport the statue and receive the relief is eight feet two inches high. The bas-releif on the face of the pedestal represents the Boston Massacre in King street. In the foreground lies Crispus Attucks, the first victim of British bullets; the centre of the scene is the old State House, behind which may be seen the steeple of the old brick or First church, which stood on Cornhill, now Washington Street. In the Upper left-hand corner is the following inscription: “From the moment we may date the Severance of the British Empire. Daniel Webster;” and in the upper right hand corner, “On that Night the Foundation of American Independenc was laid. John Adams.” Under the relief on the base appears the date “March 5, 1770.” Above the bas releif stands “Free America.” With her left hand she clasps a flag about to be unfurled, while she holds aloft in her ‘right hand the broken chain of oppression, which, twisted and torn, is falling off the plinth. At her left side, clinging to the edge of the plinth, is an eagle. Its wings are raised, its beak is open, and it has apparently just lit. Its pose is in unison with the fiery spirit of its mistrees, shown in the serious, determined, and heroic gaze of her upturned face.”

( And crushing the crown under her ‘Spirit of America’ foot.)

Read the archived 1889 dedication program which includes a letter from Frederick Douglass 

Robert Gould Shaw Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial

Robert Gould Shaw Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial Boston Commons by Augustus Saint Gaudens_dedicated 1889 ©c ryan 2018 March 1_ (3)
Robert Gould Shaw – Massachusetts 54th Regiment memorial, by Augustus Saint-Gaudens, dedicated 1897, Boston Commons. (photo shows one of the eagles– and in the background  quite nearby you can find the POW MIA Freedom Tree and the resited Boston Massacre memorial.)

Joshua Benton Smith pushed for a memorial beginning in 1865.  It took another 20 years for a sculptor to be commissioned. A dedicated committee selected sculptor, Augustus Saint-Gaudens. The tribute was unveiled and dedicated on Memorial Day May 31, 1897 (called Decoration Day at the time). Frederick Douglass was in attendance; two of his sons were in the 54th regiment. The memorial was cast by the Gorham Company foundry in Providence, R. I., at a cost of $7,000. The Gorham Company was contracted for Gloucester’s Fisherman at the Wheel memorial by Leonard Craske, and the Joan of Arc WW1 memorial by Anna Hyatt Huntington.

from the National Parks:

“Saint-Gaudens always strove for perfection regarding realism. In this relief he wanted to show a range in facial features and age, as found among the men of the regiment. This was the first time a monument depicted blacks realistically, and not as stereotypes. He hired African American men to pose, and modeled about 40 different heads to use as studies. His concern for accuracy also extended to the clothing and accoutrements.

“Saint-Gaudens, however, worked slowly. A committee member complained in 1894, “. . . that bronze is wanted pretty damned quick! People are grumbling for it, the city howling for it, and most of the committee have become toothless waiting for it!” It would still be three more years until the unveiling. In answer to criticism, Saint-Gaudens wrote:

“My own delay I excuse on the ground that a sculptor’s work endures for so long that it is next to a crime for him to neglect to do everything that lies in his power to execute a result that will not be a disgrace. There is something extraordinarily irritating, when it is not ludicrous, in a bad statue. It is plastered up before the world to stick and stick for centuries, while man and nations pass away. A poor picture goes into the garret, books are forgotten, but the bronze remains to accuse or shame the populace and perpetuate one of our various idiocies.”– Augustus Saint-Gaudens

“Many of them were bent and crippled, many with white heads, some with bouquets… The impression of those old soldiers, passing the very spot where they left for the war so many years before, thrills me even as I write these words. They faced and saluted the relief, with the music playing ‘John Brown’s Body’…. They seemed as if returning from the war, the troops of bronze marching in the opposite direction, the direction in which they had left for the front, and the young men there represented now showing these veterans the vigor and hope of youth. It was a consecration.” – Augustus Saint Gaudens


Don’t miss the Alice Gardner art exhibition at The Bookstore of Gloucester | dozens of Fiesta books already sold!

The Bookstore of Gloucester
Alice Gardner | St Peter’s Fiesta Gloucester, Massachusetts
A solo exhibition featuring the original illustrations (gouache, pen&ink, some acrylic) for her NEW children’s picture book published ©2017 the 90th Anniversary of Gloucester’s St. Peter’s Fiesta!
Address: 61 Main Street. Gloucester, MA 01930
Exhibition dates: June 3, 2017 – Fiesta and beyond!
Bookstore phone: (978) 281-1548

SAVE THE DATE: Saturday June 17

The first St. Peter’s Fiesta book launch and debut reading will be held at Gloucester Lyceum & Sawyer Free Public Library as a special part of a celebration program for the 90th Anniversary Party of St. Peter’s Fiesta thrown by the library, The Bookstore and Caffe Sicilia on Saturday June 17, 10-11:15AM 

“After coming to Gloucester so much I finally said I have to get a studio so I can spend my days here!”

She did. Alice Gardner maintains a studio in downtown Gloucester, next to the Cape Ann Museum. She has lived on the North Shore for more than 40 years. St. Peter’s Fiesta is a subject Gardner has photographed, chronicled and painted for over a decade.

Gardner says that multiple programs and contacts stemming from the Cape Ann Reads initiative and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators were critical in getting this new book into production. “Just do it!” was a motivating topic from a Steven Pressfield talk sponsored by the latter. She did. She created an entire new body of some of the Fiesta moments that have touched her most, alive with color and completed in time to coincide with the 2017 90th year Anniversary. Gardner was also inspired by Anita Silvey’s Cape Ann Reads presentations. She said Silvey mentioned “calling all these celebrities for “Everything I need to Know I learned From A Children’s Book.” It made me think that. Why don’t I just call? I wanted to talk to the Mayor. I wanted to talk to many people…This is a Gloucester story. They all grew up with Fiesta. I did not. They became part of creating the book…”  Gardner’s generous acknowledgement narrative is given great attention in the design.

The new paintings on exhibit are not for sale, but you can see a small selection of Gardner’s joyous responses to the spirit of Fiesta in larger, earlier works at The Book Store; or call ahead and visit her studio. “I am inspired by public events that make people happy, they’re doing things where there’s a unique sense of place and culture.” Gardner painted a series inspired by Boston icons– like the Boston Common swan boats– for Massachusetts General Hospital’s Illuminations. She’s also captured the seasonal charm of Manchester by the Sea at Fourth of July.



Studio next to Cape Ann Museum

The Bookstore has a substantial children’s book section The Bookstore of Gloucester Facebook link

Alice print exhibit at the books store for Sebastian Junger reading and Fiesta 2016 

Alice photos OF Fiesta featured on GMG