Playground Enriched by Collaborative Art

Here are my recent photos and notes about the Boston Common Tadpole Playground, which I had often passed by on my walk to work for years. Finally a deliberate visit there during December holidays got me to focus on the art that has been integral to that playground for more than a decade. 

In 2002 a major makeover transformed the climbing, seating and play capacity of a worn-out public playground near the Frog Pond on the Boston Common. For information about the TADpole Playground project, see the following links: tadpole playground, highland street, culture now


Three visual artists developed distinct features that have endured more than a decade of daily activity. They were 1) David Phillips, who sculpted six engaging frog characters, 2) Lilli Ann Rosenberg , who created a frog-themed mosaic at the entry, and 3) Mark Cooper, who collaborated with school children to contribute animal-themed tile panels at the base of the playground fence.


For more about David Phillips’ sculpture, see the following:  Meet the Frogs, Phillips Sculpture

Each of his six bronze frogs has a name (on a plaque nearby), a purpose or pursuit, special posture and possessions. Children and adults respond to the individual personalities.


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For information about Lilli Ann Rosenberg (1925-2011) and her collaborative creative projects in New York, Boston and Oregon, click these links:  Muralist Sculptor Adorned Public Spaces, Culture Now_Rosenberg team 

The mosaic survives frequent foot  and stroller traffic.


For more about Mark Cooper’s work, see the following link: Cooper portfolio

Children’s drawings were incorporated in his design of the tile panels.


As I learned more about the artists, my original appreciation of their collaborative  energies expanded.  Notably each artist had to consider constraints and conditions of constant use by children in all seasons without the protection or preservation accorded to other forms of creative work. They had to humbly anticipate that children might enjoy the art without recognizing the craftsmanship or intricacies and that many adults would not notice it at all. Yet the artists’ plans, drafts, responsive revisions, technical expertise, and creative spirit produced the impressive  lasting pleasures of this playground.


  1. The frogs are charming! I didn’t know about them — so it’s a neat discovery. Next time I’m on the Commons I’ll go see them “live.”
    What fun! Sharon

    1. Thanks very much for your comment, Sharon.
      I knew about the frogs, but I only just began to know them as individual ( and photogenic) characters a few weeks ago.

  2. Your lovely pictures brought back fond memories of times spent at the Tadpole playground when Katherine was little. I’ve always loved the frogs but didn’t know they had names! Thanks for sharing. Eve

  3. […] With her husband Marvin, Lilli Ann Rosenberg created these mosaics installed in 2003.  I photographed and wrote about the mosaics within the context of collaboration among artists and community for a post from 2014. […]

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