In the historic courtyard of the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum—or, more accurately, in an hour-long wait line extending out the door and down the street—a crowd of varying ages and backgrounds congregated on Sept. 17 to enjoy good music, good drinks, and well-dressed company. Part of an ongoing modernization initiative at the Gardner and a partnership with Discover Roxbury, this particular iteration of the Gardner’s monthly Third Thursdays series created a space for artistic exploration of all sorts. Visitors milled about the moonlit garden, browsed galleries stocked with craft supplies, and soaked in live jazz music and visual art by the John Kordalewski Trio and Percy Fortini-Wright, respectively. While lingering in the new Renzo Piano-designed wing, a few attendees, whether due to the boredom of waiting in line, mild intoxication, or a mixture of both, graciously agreed to speak with this Roving Reporter. Here’s a look into the bubbly and bubbly-filled night.
Martine, student at Boston University
Roving Reporter: What brought you here tonight?
Martine: I actually used to work here, so I’ve been to Third Thursdays before. I’ve wanted to come back for a while. I love the jazz aspect of tonight’s event. And now that I’m 21, it’s way more fun.
RR: Way more legal, you mean?
Martine: Yeah, that.
Percy Fortini-Wright, graffiti artist
RR: What’s the inspiration behind your work tonight?
PFW: [Listening to] the music. I’m just vibing out myself. Spontaneity, jazz rhythms. It’s not really a deliberate painting—I’m kind of freestyling.
RR: I see many circular forms in the painting. Is that deliberate?
PFW: Yeah. Oh, yeah. Some circles, some jazz motifs—jazz is so fluid. There’s a circularity, an ovalness in jazz instruments. [That’s] what resonates sound. The notes tumble into each other; the lines move and weave, you know?
RR: It sounds like you think of jazz as a live art, very vibrant and colorful. But your painting is in black and white. Why is that?
PFW: Jazz to me is very monochromatic. I imagine musky bars, you know, kind of darkly lit with smoky light coming through—that kind of smokiness feels truest in black and white.
RR: Has your art ever led to any interesting encounters—girls, the law?
PFW: I’ve been arrested a couple of times. It sucked, but I’ve been doing art my whole life. It feeds me, you know, and you meet beautiful people.
RR: If you weren’t doing art, what do you think you would be doing right now?
Danielle, learning and development coordinator at Staples
RR: Any memorable moments so far tonight?
Danielle: Not really…. [Tonight’s been] very chill, something nice to do after work. You don’t have to go home, but you don’t have to spend a lot of money and deal with crazy Boston crowds. [It’s] musical and artistic—something different to do, something relaxing. [As for something particularly memorable], maybe the drinks—
RR: Drinks are always good. Is there a particular favorite?
Danielle: Definitely the sparkling ginger. It’s amazing—I’m actually waiting in this line for a second one.
Jim & Marilyn and Angelo, local B&B owners and an Italian international student
RR: Could I get a brief introduction?
Jim: Well, we’re very important people. [laughs]. I’m retired, so I have a lot of time on my hands…. I’ve been here a couple times, so I told my sister we had to come and bring Angelo tonight. This guy just got off the plane from Italy.
RR: What do you guys think of Third Thursdays?
Jim: I love art, I love music, so I’m always happy to be here.... Also, the restaurant in the museum is awesome—we’ve met opera singers there. Tonight we met a new opera singer, and he performed while we were sitting there for dinner. It was absolutely lovely.
RR: What language was the opera in?
RR: Perfect. If you could use Italian to describe tonight—in just one romantic sentence—what would you say?
Angelo: It’s difficult because I’m not so romantic…
Marilyn: Just one sentence.
Angelo: Okay, okay. La gente qui è spettacolare, l’átmosfera è incredibile, è molto bello stasera qui… É grandioso!
RR: Could you translate that for us?
Angelo: It goes something like: “The people here are amazing, the atmosphere is really lovely, and it’s really beautiful tonight.”
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