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Art on the Plaza: MAAM launches free music series

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
Art on the Plaza: MAAM launches free music series
Veronica Robles’ all-women mariachi band performs at MAAM's Art on the Plaza, July 20.. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MAAM

The MassArt Art Museum (MAAM) continues its mission of accessible art experiences with the Art on the Plaza event series, where community members can enjoy free live performances and interactive arts activities on the museum’s exterior plaza. The summer performance schedule this month includes local East Boston musician and arts advocate Veronica Robles and her all-women mariachi band.

The Art on the Plaza series officially debuted in 2022 with kite-making, a chalk festival and a celebration of Afro-Indigenous music and dance, and the program continues to highlight that kind of public engagement, interaction with the outdoors and cultural diversity.

Participants enjoy art-making during last year’s Art on the Plaza. PHOTO: COURTESY OF MAAM

“Originating in the rural areas of western Mexico, mariachi music embodies the heart and soul of a proud nation,” says Robles. “With its distinctive blend of brass, strings and vocals, this unifying art form has become synonymous with both celebration and cherished moments, speaking to the transformative power of arts to bring people together.” The notion of collective art-making has been particularly poignant in the wake of the pandemic, as communities and artists come back together.

Currently on view inside the museum is an interactive sound installation by Massachusetts native Jace Clayton. In one part of the installation, “40 Part Part,” visitors can play their own music in a circle of 40 speakers and listen to how the sounds are manipulated and changed by Clayton’s audio program. In another area, guests can interact with a suite of digital music-making tools that draw from North African musical traditions instead of the typical Western canon. MAAM and its activities are always free and open to the public.

“I think it’s important to have a space where people feel welcome and can experience both the visual and performing arts free of cost,” says Lisa Tung, MAAM’s executive director. “We want to be able to welcome both arts aficionados and also art novices, or people who are just walking by Huntington Avenue.”

On July 20, the event features a full performance by Veronica Robles’ all-female mariachi band as well as ice cream novelties and mocktails, a little sweet something for all ages. The following week, July 27, live music at MAAM continues with a performance by jazz duo Mary Halvorson and Tomas Fujiwara.

Ultimately, the goal of Art on the Plaza is to uplift the community and make art and artistic inspiration accessible to all. Robles says, “Our all-women mariachi band seeks to deliver a message of peace and unity, inspiring audiences, and in particular young women, to pursue their dreams.”

Art on the Plaza, arts, MAAM, MassArt, music, Veronica Robles