Monday, September 28, 2009


The Andrew Square mural, depicting the area in 1940 with Electric Street Car Trolleys entering and leaving the old Andrew Square subway station. When the local Civic Association asked if I would paint a garage wall I thought, “Whoa … are they crazy?” And then … when I heard myself saying, “OK.” … I thought … “Whoa… am I crazy?”I mean … there I was … a watercolorist who usually paints in my studio hovering over the work on a horizontal surface and using dinky-sized brushes and pieces of paper. I’ve only attempted acrylic painting twice before. And trust me … it’s different, very different from watercolor painting. It’s very much like oil painting. I get nervous just thinking about it. Oil and acrylics never agreed with me. Throw in that the largest paintings I’ve been doing with watercolors are on 22 inch by 30 inch sheets of paper and you might begin to see my inner torment.I was agreeing to paint an acrylic mural with big brushes on a very rough-surfaced cement block wall 32 feet wide and 9 feet high … right out there in the public eye. It would be like a having a woman driver who … just because she can slap on eye-makeup while speeding to work on the Mass Pike … hops up on a scaffold with a ten-inch roller to help Michelangelo paint ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Not that the garage was the Sistine Chapel or that I was any Michelangelo … but you get the drift.And for more drama the garage used to belong to a funeral home. Add that to the mix. Now then … there I was … a couple of hours a day for a couple of weeks … painting outside in a parking lot at the very busy Andrew Square area in South Boston. And guess what? It was a blast … every minute was a pleasure. What better way to paint than being right in the middle of the sights and sounds of the city. There’s nothing that will clean out a troubled sinus cavity like a fire truck firing up its siren from four blocks away to blast a clearance through the six street intersection of Andrew Square. And how better to get down with the peeps than listening to the drivers at red lights chatting with each other verbally, offering advice and suggestions … some using finger-based sign language.Art critics came by and made comments all day long … the young, the elderly, those in transition, family units … crossing over from out of the subway … heading in town … and from the projects … picking up stuff from the shops … long-time residents … newcomers … baby carriages … bicycles … skateboards … scooters … and the don’t-remove-these-from-the-shopping-mall-parking-lot shopping carts. Actually the conversation was cheerful … but the Southie zinger was always evident. “Whaddaya doin’ … community-service?” Also there was mumblings about me being on. rehab-work-release. For the rhythmic sounds of the city … the boom-boxes kept blasting out from cars halted at the red lights. It brought a certain salsa and hip-hop tempo to the stroke of my brush. And the spare-change people were out and about … enjoying the good weather. One guy came up and asked for money to do his laundry. Very creative. You know … you can’t make that stuff up.Officially the mural was finished on Labor Day … but I sneaked back a couple of times to touch up or changes a few things that I forgot … and now it’s really done. The Andrew Square Civic Association people commissioned the mural and lots of their people pitched in and helped with the painting … and with the cheerleading. It’s not in the T Station but on the garage wall in the small parking lot of the Andrew Square Convenience Store on the corner of Dorchester and Preble streets … diagonally across from Dunkin’ Donuts. Check it out.The accompanying photo shows the garage before … along with an image of the initial watercolor painting and a couple of pics of the finished mural.

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