Cities Embrace Street Art: Murals Go Mainstream

Marka27, Bring Back 90’s Rap, limited edition, archival print, 17” x 17”.





By Brian Goslow

At what point did street art go from being seen by most as an unfavorable blight on a neighborhood to being considered a highly desirable commodity?

In 2009, Shepard Fairey was arrested for illegal tagging in Boston and thus missed DJing a sold-out party at his highly-promoted ICA show; in the first part of the 2010s, some Worcester city councilors, upset about an onslaught of destructive tagging throughout the city and unable to separate art from vandalism, called for the fining of business owners who commissioned local artists to paint murals on their walls.

Now, Boston’s City Hall Plaza hosts Art Hub Boston and invites artists to paint shipping trailers brought specifically to the site for the event and, as part of the international Pow! Wow! Worcester mural festival, official City of Worcester properties hold dozens of works by street artists from around the world, literally turning school and public housing buildings into museum spaces. Nearby, with many of the same artists, Beyond Walls Lynn reinvented that North Shore city while the Grove Hall Mural Project helped transform Dorchester.

In September, Ink Block Apartments — built on the former site of the Boston Herald, which can give the feeling of a new, vibrant city that sprung out of nowhere overnight — created Underground at Ink Block, an urban park that holds 175 parking spaces. Sitting underneath the Southeast Expressway (I-93), the property was developed as part of the Massachusetts Department of Transportation’s Infra- Space Program, intended to utilize under-used infrastructure spaces statewide.

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