Mural on Massachusetts Avenue

Mural on Massachusetts Avenue

Young artists create mural at Novartis site

  • Posted on: 16 February 2013
  • By: mholbrow

Photo, above: Young artists who worked on the historical mural at the Novartis construction site on Massachusetts Avenue were introduced at a Community Art Center reception February 13 by Executive Director Eryn Johnson (right) and Visiting Mural Artist Laura Smith (second from right). The event celebrated completion of the first phase of the mural project.

Artists, family and friends view the mural

So what’s it like painting a mural outdoors in the middle of winter?

Half a dozen 7- to 10-year-old artists shared the story with guests at a reception at the Community Art Center (CAC) at 119 Windsor Street on February 13. They were describing work on the mural now taking shape in the construction walkway on Massachusetts Avenue between Albany and Windsor Streets. The kids are veterans of the newly completed Phase 1 of the project. They offered some survival tips.

“We did jumping jacks.”

“We wore warm coats.”

“Hot cocoa!”

Mural Artist Laura Smith (r) with Novartis Community Core representatives Dwayne Quimby (l) and Kara Cournoyer (c) at the reception.Their group leader, CAC’s visiting mural artist Laura Smith, noted a practical discovery: “Paint freezes when the temperature goes below 32 degrees,” she said.

Photo, left: Mural Artist Laura Smith (r) with Novartis Community Core representatives Dwayne Quimby (l) and Kara Cournoyer (c) at the reception.

The project is funded by the Novartis Institutes for Biomedical Research. Novartis is adding new buildings in the four-acre expanse behind the mural site.

The mural project will be done in four phases, continuing through next summer. It represents Cambridge’s Area 4, a neighborhood 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.

Smith described how she and her team of young Area 4 artists developed the vision for the mural. They started with photos, stories, and history.

“We wanted to include things we think are beautiful, and things we’re proud of,” she said.

They checked out landscape details, from buildings and fences to sticks, stones, and bottle caps. When they started painting they applied a concrete texture layer to get a suitably gritty effect.Jaronzie Harris and Pete

Eryn Johnson, CAC’s Executive Director, welcomed guests and introduced people involved in the project, including lead teacher Marie France St. Germaine; focus class teacher Jaronzie Harris; and project manager James Pierre. Photo, right: Jaronzie Harris helps one of her younger art students with the refreshments.

Marie France St. GermainMarie France St. Germaine (left) will work with the youth group on the next phase of the mural. A recent Massachusetts College of Art graduate, she is no stranger to CAC projects.

“I’ve been coming here since I was five years old!” she said.

Ian Wilson“The construction workers at the site have been wonderful to us,” Eryn Johnson said. Foreman Ian Wilson (right) of Skanska USA New England received a bouquet and a special round of applause for his help.

Scenes from the muralReception attendees walked over to the nearby mural site for a look at the work. The young artists pointed out highlights ranging from local scenes and events to portraits of themselves.

The CAC project aims high. Its original Request for Proposals winds up with a resounding mission statement:  to cultivate an engaged community of youth whose powerful artistic voices transform their lives, their communities and their worlds.