Two Medicine Wheel Projects,  were named as among the 15 best Public Art Projects of 2016!

“South of Hy-Brasil,” by Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile's "South of Hy-Brasil" floats in Boston's Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile’s “South of Hy-Brasil” floats in Boston’s Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile’s “South of Hy-Brasil” floats in Boston’s Back Bay Fens. (Greg Cook/WBUR)
Gazing down Boston’s Back Bay Fens, it emerged from between the trees — a mysterious concoction of fabric and plywood and thatch, resembling maybe an overturned boat or some sort of shell-cottage.

In fact it was a sculpture, temporary floating in the lagoon behind Boston’s Museum of Fine Arts this fall. It was inspired by Hy-Brasil, an island that began appearing in maps of Ireland’s west coast in the 14th century — but perhaps not in reality. Connected with the Irish belief in Tír na nÓg — the “otherworld” or “land of eternal youth” — it was an elusive place, said to appear only once every seven years, shrouded in mist.

“It would come and go like a mirage,” visiting Irish artist Caoimhghin Ó Fraithile explained. “It would appear and disappear. They couldn’t find it.”

“Medicine Wheel,” by Michael Dowling and friends

The 25th annual Medicine Wheel procession began at Boston City Hall, which was lit red for the occasion. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

The 25th annual Medicine Wheel procession began at Boston City Hall, which was lit red for the occasion. (Greg Cook/WBUR)

It was raining at 11 on the night of Dec. 1 as about 30 people gathered under the overhang of Boston City Hall, the concrete building lit all in red (taking advantage of the new, outdoor LED lighting that debuted at the structure in October), to begin the 25th annual “Medicine Wheel” vigil to remember the millions of people lost to AIDS.

“In the early years, artists marked this day to hold the human heart, to hold the human condition,” Boston artist Michael Dowling, who founded the event, said to launch this year’s 24-hour vigil. It began with a solemn lantern procession and dancing from City Hall to the Boston Center for the Arts, where a monumental shrine was set up in the Cyclorama.

“I’m 62 years old. Of my generation, one in four of us died from AIDS,” Dowling said. “I’ve always believed art is the thing that guides us through those difficult times, and those wonderful times.”

WBUR article by Greg Cook