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City walls replace gallery walls during pandemic

Celina Colby
Celina Colby is an arts and travel reporter with a fondness for Russian novels.... VIEW BIO
City walls replace gallery walls during pandemic
“999 Cranes” by Silvia Lopez Chavez at Ruggles Station. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

Many arts organizations that have had to close their doors are turning to the internet to continue displaying work and engaging the community. Theater shows are streaming online, the Boston Symphony Orchestra is on Spotify and the Museum of Fine Arts is debuting exhibitions on Instagram. But there’s another accessible venue available as well: the street. For those in a position to enjoy social-distanced walks outdoors, public art around the city has become a crucial way of continuing to experience art in person. While breathing in the fresh air, add some positivity to your daily walk with these murals and public art pieces.

“Breathe Life 3” by ProBlak at 808 Tremont Street. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

“Breathe Life 3” by ProBlak at 808 Tremont Street. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

The “Breathe Life” murals by ProBlak

Roxbury native and Boston street art legend ProBlak began his series celebrating black children in 2017 with the “Breathe Life” mural at 324 Blue Hill Avenue in Grove Hall. The mural depicts a young boy in a fantastical landscape blowing into a toy house. Last year, ProBlak debuted “Breathe Life 3” at 808 Tremont Street, just a few blocks from where he grew up. The mural shows a black brother and sister joyfully playing together against a similarly fantastical backdrop. Both murals are meant to illustrate joy, an emotional more essential than ever during this pandemic.

“999 Cranes” by Silvia López Chavez

This vibrant mural on the side of Ruggles Station depicts two hands holding a paper crane. Around it, geometric shapes like arrows and targets mix with organic floral patterns, all in flat planes of bold color. The intention of the mural is to illustrate that a journey never goes in a straight line. The mural references both physical journeys, like those taken on the nearby Orange Line, and metaphorical journeys. Now, the piece speaks to the current climate, in that the COVID-19 pandemic is full of unknowns, no straight answers or lines, but that community and creativity will allow people to persevere.

“A World of Innocent Wonder” by Cedric Douglas at Northeastern University. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

“A World of Innocent Wonder” by Cedric Douglas at Northeastern University. PHOTO: CELINA COLBY

“A World of Innocent Wonder” by Cedric Douglas

Hidden within Northeastern University’s campus is a mural that perfectly illustrates the possibilities of imagination and creativity. “A World of Innocent Wonder” depicts a small child holding a spray paint can. From that can, an energetic splash of hues and shapes emerges, including a dinosaur, a mountain landscape and a burst of primary colors. The mural shows how art and imagination can create a whole world where there was once just a wall, just like Douglas’ works do all around the city.

While Bostonians are now confined within their walls most of the time, that doesn’t have to stop the spread of invention, exploration and artistic joy.

On the web
Find more Grove Hall murals to explore: