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Seven projects totaling $75,000 selected for transformative public art program

August 2, 2019

Arts and Culture

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Arts and Culture

Mayor Walsh has committed $75,000 to the program as part of the City's record-breaking investment in public art.

Mayor Martin J. Walsh and the Mayor's Office of Arts and Culture today announced seven temporary public art projects have been selected for the City of Boston's Transformative Public Art program. Mayor Walsh has committed $75,000 to the program as part of the City's record-breaking investment in public art, and artists representing a variety of art forms will carry out projects in eight different neighborhoods.

"Through this program, we're supporting individual artists, celebrating diverse art forms, and bringing opportunities for public art to communities throughout Boston," said Mayor Walsh. "I look forward to the work of these incredible artists adding to our City's rich and diverse public art."

'Afro Futurism/Breathe Life' by Rob 'Problak' Gibbs, courtesy of Chris Gaines
"Afro Futurism/Breathe Life" by Rob "Problak" Gibbs, courtesy of Chris Gaines

The City of Boston released a call for artists earlier this summer for transformative public artworks, with particular interest in murals and temporary projects with social practice, participatory artmaking, or educational programming that celebrates the diversity of Boston. Thirty artists submitted applications, and the following eight artists were selected to participate: 

  • Nick Cave with Now + There received $20,000 for the multimedia public art project "Augment" taking place in the South End and Dorchester. Augment is a singular artwork, a community parade, and a call for Boston to come together in public and cultivate shared joy. The artwork will first be exhibited inside the Boston Center for the Arts Cyclorama in Boston's South End on August 8 and again at 555 Columbia Road in Dorchester on September 18. A public parade on September 14 will connect the two sites and physically carry the artwork from the South End to Dorchester, ending in a multi-organizational street festival with partners DS4Si, Company One Theatre, and Upham's Corner Health Center.

  • Rob "Problak" Gibbs received $15,000 to create a mural in Roxbury. Gibbs is a painter, muralist and graffiti artist who was one of six urban teens to co-found the nonprofit Artists For Humanity. Gibbs has conducted art workshops for Girls, Inc., The Boston Foundation, and YouthBuild. He has been a teacher and guest artist at the Eliot Middle School and has provided innovative programming to young men at Rayne Academy. His work has been featured in exhibitions around the country. He was also commissioned by the City of Boston in 2017 to create a mural called "Breathe Life" in Grove Hall, which turned into a three part mural series and was recognized as part of Americans for the Arts' 2019 Public Art Network Year in Review.

  • Victor "Marka27" Quiñonez with Street Theory Gallery received $15,000 to create a mural in the South End. With Liza Quiñonez, Marka27 is a co-founder of Street Theory, a Creative Studio and Gallery. They both have more than 15 years of experience in education, nonprofit and arts programming. Marka27 conducts workshops and lectures on participatory artmaking and was the keynote speaker for the 2014 graduating class of the Parsons Scholars Program at Parsons School of Design in NYC, utilizing his life, art and work experiences to inspire disadvantaged youth, immigrants, and first generation college students to pursue artistic endeavors. He was also commissioned by the City of Boston in 2017 to create the mural "Love Thyself" as part of the Grove Hall mural series. 

  • Brian Beyung with the Chinese Historical Society of New Englandreceived $10,000 to create a mural in Chinatown. Beyung was born in Montreal, to a Chinese-Cambodian refugee family. Trained in graphic design, Beyung is aware of the infinite possibilities that digital technology has to offer. He paints everyday life subjects with a pronounced taste for geometric shapes and graphic design composition. Between figurative and abstract art, he creates dynamic compositions where he deconstructs forms to give a second approach to an image, an idea, or a memory. Over the past five years, he has completed murals and installations in his hometown of Montreal as well as in Cambodia, Haiti, and Lynn, Massachusetts.

  • Samantha Fields received $5,000 for "desires not even our own", a performative project disassembling one ton of used clothing that cannot be sold in thrift stores to act as a physical representation of material resources, the unseen labor of its makers, and a stand-in for our emotional person. The project will take place in Downtown Crossing over a period of eight weeks this fall. An educator for 22 years, Fields developed her project as a participant in Now +There's Public Art Accelerator. It is a culmination of her teaching experience and art practice, bringing together the classroom, the performative, the sculptural, the curatorial and the participatory. 

  • MASARY Studios received $5,000 to create "Water's Edge", a live music and projection piece illuminating narratives surrounding the climate change crisis, in East Boston. MASARY Studios is a team of artists awakening built and natural environments through live music performance and video projection mapping. The three principal members of MASARY have backgrounds that include degrees in fine art, classical and world percussion, as well as years of experience in West African music studies, new music composition, curation and direction, teaching at the university and conservatory levels, and more.

  • Levi Bedall with Pneuhaus received $5,000 to create a sculpture project in the Back Bay. Pneuhaus is a design collective made up of Matt Muller, Augie Lehrecke, and Levi Bedall focusing on the mastery of all things inflatable. With expertise in both materials and methods, they create spatial designs, temporary structures, contemporary art and large-scale immersive environments. As architects, designers, engineers, and artists, they collaborate on new forms, new ideas and new ways to define public space in ways they hope to be joyful and inspiring.

The final designs for all projects will be voted on by the Boston Art Commission prior to installation. 

This project is part of the City's ten-year cultural plan, Boston Creates, which calls for the creation of public art that embraces a neighborhood's identity and adds to a strong sense of place. The City of Boston is looking to increase its collection and availability of public art by adding new artwork that transforms and enhances our current sense of place, improves the streetscape, and creates an environment that celebrates the City's cultural vibrancy. A map of current public art locations in the City of Boston can be online.

"These projects reflect the talent and diversity of Boston's neighborhoods," said Kara Elliott-Ortega, Chief of Arts and Culture for the City of Boston. "We're going to see the City of Boston welcome new public art that creates a sense of belonging, joy, and opportunities for connection."

"I am grateful for funding from the City of Boston, which will allow 'desires not even our own' the opportunity to hold free hands-on workshops, lectures and roundtable discussions," said artist Samantha Fields. "These events will offer an in-depth look at the layered and interlocking problem of American consumer behavior and culture and empower us to take responsibility as a part of an interconnected ecosystem."

In addition to temporary public art, the City of Boston currently has several permanent public art projects underway in Jamaica Plain, Roxbury, and East Boston as part of its Percent for Art Program, which allocates one percent of the City's planned borrowing toward the creation of public art. The North Square Public Art Project by A+J Art+Design is also being installed in the North End this fall.

Building on his continued support of arts and culture in the City of Boston, Mayor Walsh dedicated over $2.5 million in funding in the past year toward arts programming, including support for 220 different arts organization, more than 200 individual artists, and 90+ free arts experiences for all residents to enjoy. Over the next five years, the City is committing $13.4 million to the Percent for Art program. This, combined with $80,000 for temporary public art projects in the next year and several new City staff positions, is the most funding the City has ever dedicated to public art. 

In this year's budget, Mayor Walsh has also included $250,000 in new grant programs for individual artists and projects, and $489,000 in grants for arts organizations through the Boston Cultural Council, meaning the City's grant funding has more than doubled in the past five years.

To learn more about the arts and culture programs and initiatives being spearheaded by the City of Boston, visit the Arts and Culture website.