Art in the Wild
By Clay McDermott
Art is better the fewer barriers put up between it and the public. A painting in a vault might as well not exist to most of us, so why talk about it? It’s the art in the wild that really matters.
I go on walks through cities to find this rare art, and Boston has been the art equivalent of the Amazon. This time, I went through Cambridge, looking for the best art I could find out there. I found some, that's for sure.
As soon as I entered Cambridge, right across the Boston University bridge, I was confronted by mosaics. And oh, what mosaics! The homeowners of Pompeii would be proud. The first piece is a memorial mosaic presumably, done in the style of the paintings of the Renaissance. There is an almost divine quality to the face, similar to the Virgin Mary as depicted by Leonardo da Vinci. It’s a pretty cool piece to run into while strolling.
The second piece at first seems to pale in comparison to its predecessor. It is a simple representation of nature.However, I was inclined to look up, and then saw the full inspiration of this piece. It is a mirror reflecting the tree above it, a colored shadow. At noon I’m guessing the shadow lines up with the mosaic. This is pretty tremendous.
In my honest opinion, it is deeply disingenuous to claim that graffiti is uglier than a blank gray wall. Even worse than that is asserting that the incongruent paint job rolled over the writing somehow is an improvement over the street art. I chose this trash can for the spotlight because it stood out. The obvious touches of multiple artists makes this a sort of collaboration like those of Warhol & Basquiat. There even seems to be a touch of Basquiat in the face. The artists included the canvas in their art, with the speech bubble coming off the logo. What is he saying? That’s up to us.
This is similar to the piece before. Art on a public utility, elevating that utility. The subject is fantastical, changing a utility box into a fairy tale. Each side has a different theme as well. In the image above, you can see the dawn scene, pegasus soaring across it, and the dusk with a wolf howling. I liked the bike locked near it as well. This truly was art in the wild, with the wild encroaching onto the art in the form of a bike missing a wheel.
I won’t lie. I love murals. There is something wonderful about turning a wall into a piece of public art. Walls do their job just fine, but are the epitome of simply surviving. With a mural, the wall transcends this sole structural purpose and helps us to thrive. This mural fits its environment well, and is oh-so-pleasing to the eye. It can be looked at closely or from far, attention paid to its colors or to the words. And some credit has to be given to the artist simply for the word choice. I left this wall feeling better than I did on reaching it, and that’s something.
With that mural, I finish off the pieces I found on my voyage. There is one more from an earlier tip I wish to share, though. It was in trash bin, and now is in my dorm.
Enjoy, and look out for art in the wild.