Boston Street Mural Art and its Messages to History and Today

By Taylor Ernzen

Photos by Joseph Cuccio

Art is no stranger to the greater area of Boston, as theater and music overwhelm the residents with endless choices of performance. Street art is no exception, and it has a long history within Boston itself. Three murals in particular help gauge the history of Boston Art, as well as it’s future.

Genaro Ortega, or “Go Five,” was announced by Mayor Martin J. Walsh as the chosen artist in May 2017. Ortega was to paint a mural at Peters Park Art Wall, which has a history of different artists and paintings in its walls since 1980. The mural depicts a black woman wrapped in the American flag breaking from golden chains while pigeons fly away. The bold dark lines behind her give a stark contrast to the colors of the mural, making the empowering mural that much more eye-catching. Using traditional graffiti practices of spray paint and drawing out different dimensions in shapes, the piece uses the style to its advantage when flushing out the colors and shapes of the objects.

Ortega is a well-known artist around Boston, as his other pieces depicting people with shaded graffiti have gained him a reputation over the years. The mural is a popular spot for not only tennis players, but photographers and artists alike to marvel at the beauty and intricacy of the painting. The emotions that overcome a spectator are indescribable, as photos do not do this piece justice at the raw beauty of it. You can find some of Genaro’s other work on his Instagram: @gofive.

Not only does art have its history in Boston, but the city also has deep roots with the popular genre of jazz music. The city’s history and appreciation for it shines in the “Jazz mural” by ProBlak, Rath, Kwest, Marka27, Deme5, Clark, Wys and others at 94 Terrace Street, Boston. One of the longest standing murals in the South End of Boston, the mural shows different jazz legends in creative tones and colors that the music itself invokes. Legends such as Cruz Celia, Kenny Burrell, and El Rey are vividly painted onto the walls of the building—where they have remained for over the past fifteen years. Boston’s conservatories have been home to several Jazz artists in the years, including Cecil Taylor at New England Conservatory. And, although the paint has faded, the intricacy and love that went into the work of the mural are not lost on those who view it. Jazz today has lost some of its popularity in the eyes of popular radio, but it’s the artists such as the ones depicted here that give Jazz its remembrance.

Not too far from this jazz mural is a grocery store called Fuentes Market, with the back of the store showcasing a mural of diverse children and families in Boston. The contrast between the different skin tones is blended with a light blue in the background, as each detail of each child is brought out individually. The location is one not many would stumble upon, and that almost makes it just as unique. Diversity is championed in this piece, where every child is different than one another, yet all come together to form a beautiful piece. A mural such as this one is in a strange place: being out in the open of Boston but in an almost secluded location. It’s an interesting spot, with an equally interesting, complex and beautiful masterpiece.

These are only a few of the several murals around Boston and each one has a message that it celebrates to the community. The different arts are what make a foundation of rich history in Boston and these murals are the showcases of it.

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