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Community Art Center Launches Mural Project on Mass Ave

Photo: Mural Artist Geobany Rodriguez (wearing cap) oversaw work on a Community Art Center logo at the Oct. 18 celebration of the upcoming CAC mural project at Novartis's Massachusetts Avenue construction site.
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“Now I’m famous!”

The youthful artist – one of a crowd of youngsters – was clearly thrilled to see one of her works on display in a real art show. But she didn’t have a lot of time to spend in front of her own piece; the kids with her were calling her to come and look at theirs.

The occasion was a reception and exhibit October 18 to mark the start-up of an art project in this unconventional setting:  the pedestrian walkway at the Novartis construction site on Massachusetts Avenue between Albany and Windsor Street. Painting of a four-stage mural is scheduled to begin here next week. The project is funded by Novartis.

Eryn Johnson, Executive Director, Community Art CenterFor the project, artists and youth participants in Cambridge's Community Art Center program will turn the walls of the walkway into a mural with four interconnected panels, CAC Executive Director Eryn Johnson (photo, left) told guests at the reception.

“This part of Cambridge – Area 4 – is one of the most diverse parts of the city; it’s like a lot of ecosystems linked together," Johnson said. "We’ll end up with a 130-foot-long wall of art that will show many aspects of the area as seen by different artists.”

Area 4 is bounded by Main Street and Massachusetts Avenue on the south, Hampshire Street on the north, Prospect on the west, and the Grand Junction tracks on the east.

The framed works lining the roofed walkway during the reception were created earlier by young artists at the Community Art Center, 119 Windsor Street. As work on the mural progresses, the framed pictures will give way to scenes painted directly on the walls of the walkway.

Four artists have been named to collaborate with young people from the Community Art Center program, with one of the four heading each phase of the project. Three of them are from Cambridge: Laura Smith, Geobany Rodriguez (shown in the top photo), and Tova Speter. The fourth, Mike Lee a.k.a. MerkThose, grew up here and is based in Boston.

CAC board member Prilly Sanville (l); President Dan Anderson (r)

(Photo, left: Dan Anderson, President of the CAC's Board of Directors, is at right. With him is board member Prilly Sanville.) During the reception Dan Anderson and Prilly Sanville noted contrasting views along the walkway. Partly visible at left in the photo is one of the windows through which the ongoing construction can be surveyed;  between the board members is a piece from the show: “Leah and Me,” a pastel by featured artist Rayjaun Pollard.

Pollard (photo, below left) is a 2010 CAC program graduate. He is shown with his paintings "Mothers Intuition" (l) and "Blue Ambition" (r). He is now a student at Newbury College.

Artist Rayjaun PollardFront to back: Fred Woodard, jazz guitar, with Frederick Woodard III, violin; Akili Jamal Haynes, bass; Matthew Williams, drums.
Board member Ashlyn Ridlehoover said the mural will highlight the history and cultural heritage of the area.

"In the process of making it the kids will explore their community and their neighborhood, and they'll give others a way to see them as well."

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Timetable for work on the mural:
Section 1: October 22, 2012 - December 14, 2012
Section 2: December 17, 2012 - February 22, 2013
Section 3: March 4, 2013 - June 14, 2013
Section 4: July 8, 2013 - August 15, 2013

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Music at the reception was by (from front to back) jazz guitarist Fred Woodard; his son Frederick Woodard III on violin; Akili Jamal Haynes, bass; Matthew Williams, drums.

Construction plans for the Novartis facility feature two new buildings:   one designed by Maya Lin for construction on Massachusetts Ave., and a second, designed by Toshiko Mori, at an angle to it on Osborn Street. These two, plus a third one – formerly an MIT building – will be linked by green space. A sketch of the plan is on line at http://tech.mit.edu/V132/N31/novartis.html.