Central Square’s iconic murals are vanishing, with funds being raised for their replacements
A mural brightening Norfolk Street in Central Square since 1997 has been painted over, and the “Crossroads” mural on the Pearl Street Parking Garage since 1986 is going too – but each are due to be replaced as part of a project set to bring 10 new murals to the square.
The Norfolk Street mural – now a wall of stark, white brick on the side of a planned marijuana dispensary at the former Out of the Blue art gallery space at 541 Massachusetts Ave. – had been a colorful tribute to the artist Marc Chagall by Easthampton’s Pasqualina Azzarello. But white paint has replaced a number of aging painted works around the area.
“The mural had a solid run, and we thank Pasqualina for her contributions to Central Square. Her work helped reinforce Central Square as a place of wonder,” said Michael Monestime, president of the Central Square Business Association. The artist was contacted in advance of the changes, though, and “I’ve asked Pasqualina if she would come back in spring of 2019 to paint a new one on a new wall.”
Just as the Chagall-themed mural was peeling badly, the “Crossroads” mural – a 1,200-square-foot collage of people and architectural landmarks by Oakland’s Daniel Galvez – was found to be beyond repair, Monestime said.
Murals are so identified with Central Square that the Off the Beaten Path tours company runs a regular Central Square food and mural arts trip it calls “The Most Instagrammable Tour of Boston,” charging $55 per person for a sampling of Central Square cuisine and a walk that shows off “a vibrant public art scene from Graffiti Alley, which changes daily and is a sanctioned graffiti walkway, to colorful and impressive large scale murals that were commissioned by the city from award winning local talent.”
“It is sad to see the murals be painted over, but they had a good run,” said Lizzie Bell, founder of Off the Beaten Path. “They typically only last for five to 10 years.”
Monestime and the city are already looking ahead.
The Central Square Mural Project – a video describing it includes comments from Monestime, Mayor Marc McGovern and Cambridge Arts director Jason Weeks – seeks to crowdfund $25,000 by Oct. 26 to qualify for matching funds from the state’s MassDevelopment, with the total being used to pay for new murals to celebrate Central Square, the local creative economy, equity, inclusion and social and environmental justice, according to the project’s Patronicity fundraising page.
“Iconic and easily spotted buildings are the canvases,” including the Gas & Light building, the Green Street Garage, a wall overlooking Lafayette Square and the Central Square Library, the page says. Some work has already been done, including the old Blockbuster Video sign (atop the same Out of the Blue art gallery space) remade by artist Kenji Nakayama to celebrate the square’s designation as a cultural district, and an ancient rooftop “Syms” tag being painted over atop H Mart by Marka27 into a vibrant mural called “Queendom.”
On Tuesday, the fundraising passed the halfway point, with more than $13,000 raised from more than 70 people with 17 days left. The campaign is here.
This post was updated Oct. 11, 2018, with comments by Lizzie Bell.