This past weekend I was mindlessly wandering around Facebook when I came across the “Boston, Massachusetts” page and noticed that someone had posted a picture of our city’s newest public art by the graffiti artists, Os Gemeos. I thought it was bright and colorful and was happy to see that we are starting to embrace street art in Boston. But I speak too soon- I was shocked to see the responses. There are currently 947 comments, and 623 more at Fox News– I won’t make you read through them all. They all fall into two categories:
The first half went something like this: “Looks like a terrorists wife. It is a slap in the face to all those who lost someone on 9/11 & another slap in the face to our military who is over there risking there lives.”
The second half went something like this: “How does this represent Boston or the people that live and work here? I don’t like it. I don’t understand it.”
Firstly, in what sick world do we live in that anyone with a head covering is automatically a terrorist? Just because someone is muslim, doesn’t mean they are a terrorist. And just because someone drapes a shirt over their face CERTAINLY doesn’t mean they are Muslim. And while I know this wasn’t intended to be a Muslim- what would be so wrong if it was?
Secondly, where is the rule stated that everything in Boston must “fit in” with the rest of the city? I’m pretty sure the Prudential Center was revolutionary architecture at the time, and the Zakim Bridge certainly isn’t lined with cobblestone… We don’t live in the 17th century anymore, and not every sign in the city has to have a picture of Paul Revere and an American Flag on it. Just because you don’t understand something doesn’t mean its bad- maybe it means you should expand your horizons and learn something new!
Additionally, I don’t care how great of a picture you get on your computer screen – it’s pretty hard to judge art until you see it. Think about someone trying to appreciate the colors of a Rothko, or the glow of a John Singer Sargent painting without standing in front of it…. Luckily, this is down the street from us, so Nick and I took a stroll to the Greenway, with cameras in hand, ready to take in our new mural.
I don’t know about you, but I really like it! Love the colors, love the scale and the creative use of the building. I have to be honest that it is a lot more bold than the rest of the buttoned up greenway, and I’m surprised they got the approval- but I’m all for it. Its unlike anything I’ve seen before in Boston (or anywhere for that matter) and this is a good thing! The definition of what makes good art is continually evolving- to me it certainly includes a well thought out piece that inspires creative thought and discussion.
Os Gemeos, “the twins” in Portuguese, are actually Otávio and Gustavo Pandolfo, two street artists with a growing presence in the urban art world. Their yellow characters are a recurring theme in their work, as are the hats, hoods and scarves they are often depicted in. In the past, Os Gemeos has been quoted as saying they paint what they dream. I would really like to step into one of these dreams- they seem so colorful and fantastic! The mural is privately funded and has been put up in correlation with an exhibit at the ICA featuring the art of the duo. (Time for a field trip!) I think that public art installations are a fabulous way to exhibit the work of street artists- obviously the work they are most known around the world for cannot usually fit inside a museum, so to also leave their mark in more “traditional” ways throughout the city offers greater exposure and understanding to what makes the artists great.
I don’t think any picture I take could make you truly appreciate the size of this mural. It is 70’x70′ and it was impossible for me to get a close up shot of the entire piece. It is crazy picturing them on cranes painting, not even being able to step back and view each addition of color, and yet at the same time they were able to fill in each nook and cranny with detail.
With all of the controversy surrounding the mural, the hatred seems to be fueled by a limited few who hide behind the shield of their computer screens: as issued in a public statement- the ICA has only received one formal complaint. GOOD. I hope it is here to stay and this doesn’t become a “one step forward, two steps back” moment for our city.
What do you think of it?