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First public mural opens on Charles River Esplanade


The award-winning, Boston-based artist Silvia Lopez Chavez is commissioned to paint the first public mural on the Esplanade. PHOTO BY CHLOE GRINBERG/ DAILY FREE PRESS STAFF

The Esplanade Association is set to unveil the first public mural on the Charles River Esplanade next week. The Esplanade Association commissioned Now and There, a nonprofit dedicated to the arts, to commission local artist Silvia Lopez Chavez to paint a wall of the underpass.

The mural is set to open Monday but due to weather, the opening may be delayed until Friday, according to Chavez.

Jessica Crimmins, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said the association has been looking for artists to help liven up the area connecting Storrow Drive and Charlesgate.

“The Esplanade Association has wanted to do public art for quite a while, and we’ve been researching various artists and opportunities that we have to do public art,” Crimmins said. “The Esplanade is filled with recreational opportunities … but art is something that hasn’t been in the Esplanade.”

Crimmins said they chose Chavez to paint the mural because of the vitality of the colors and shapes in her art.

“The goal is to take these vibrant colors and take things from the space around the Esplanade: the birds, the bikers, the runners, the sun, the plants, and kind of emulate it onto the mural,” Crimmins said.

Crimmins said she was glad to see the response the mural has already had on the community.

“We hope that they get excited to see a brightened space, a space that was prior filled with graffiti and quite dark,” she said. “We’re hoping that they feel more energetic. It’s already captured a lot of attention by the people that have already come by it while it’s being painted.”

Kate Gilbert, executive director for Now and There, said graffiti had dominated the area closest to the Bowker Overpass since the highway project which constructed the Esplanade was formed.

“The overpass was created for a highway project and … was designed more for the cars that hold it than the people that go along it,” Gilbert said.

Gilbert said Chavez was a top choice because of her color choices and for being a Boston-based artist.

“Her sense of color and patterns creates really joyful expressions and I felt that the mural should be very expressive and colorful and represent the color of Boston and the color of the people of Boston,” Gilbert said.

The mural is called “Patterned Behaviors” because of the rhythm Chavez noticed the people and cars coming through the area had.

“I wanted to make this piece be very site specific and very reflective of how humans interact with this space and hopefully change it so they will have a new connection to it as the artwork happens,” Chavez said.

Chavez said each color she used was intended to help reflect the diversity of the city.

“People come [here] from all over the world,” Chavez said. “There’s so many different cultures coming together and connecting in this piece and in this city. I wanted it to be alive and colorful like people are in Boston.”

Chavez said there have been over 40 volunteers who have wanted to help paint the mural alongside her.

“It’s been a really positive response from all kinds of people who use the space and people who have heard about the project and want to come help,” Chavez said. “People have responded by feeling so empowered by painting on the wall and also proud by being able to say they helped make this happen.”

Several Boston residents said they were excited to see the finished product.

Kelly Ibsen, 54, of Brighton, said she enjoys going to museums but loves the idea of finding unexpected artwork.

“I like outdoor art,” Ibsen said. “I think it’s cool to find unusual artwork where you don’t expect to see it.”

Ibsen also said she thinks the mural will make the community seem safer.

“I think it creates a better sense that it’s a good community,” Ibsen said. “It makes you feel like, if you’re in an area that you don’t know and you see artwork, I automatically feel more reassured that it’s an area I can walk through.”

Armani Nova, 22, of Brighton, said although he isn’t on the Esplanade a lot he will make a point to come see the new mural.

“I like seeing people’s artwork put up on display,” Nova said. “We don’t get new art if people don’t support it.”

Defne Surujon, 25, of Brighton, said because she’s never been a skilled artist she appreciates the work of others.

“I’m sure local artists need the support and [the mural] is a nice thing to add to the city,” Surujon said.

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One Comment

  1. What a great way to liven up the city and bring the art work out into the public eye as opposed to inside a museum! ??‍????