I have always loved street art. Its subversive nature, its unfiltered messages and its unsanctioned appearance appeal to me on every level, and that makes me appreciate the ingenuity and persistence of the “artists” who take the time to share their graffiti, stencils, stickers or tags in a uniquely powerful art form. While similarly powerful, Public art is unlike Street art in that it is very intentional in its creation. Public Art is art that has been planned and installed in a location where it is specifically designed to interact with the public. Whether you find them irritating or an inspiration, both Street art and Public art in all their forms have long been part of our visual vernacular and play an important role in our ongoing cultural dialogues.
Although there are a lot of fantastic locations for Street Art and Public Art in the Greater Boston area there is probably no better neighborhood to familiarize yourself with it than Central Square in Cambridge. With a series of murals that date back decades and regularly rotating artwork in “Graffitti Alley,” Central Square is known to be one of the more colourful neighborhoods in the Metro Boston area and has a long history of supporting creative expression in all its forms. Now host to a new series of murals that are part of the Central Square Mural Project Central Square is bringing new public art and new voices to the community. Installation of the murals, which began in the fall of 2019, coincided with the 10 year anniversary of “Graffitti Alley,” a.k.a. Modica Way, a local treasure and Gram-able hot spot know for its vibrant and eccentric rotating gallery of wall and graffiti art. The Central Square Mural Project has unfolded over the past year and features a wide range of talents, subjects and locations, all Mass Ave adjacent, which when combined with the older murals, make for a fun and engaging walk down Mass Ave.
There is probably no better way to get to know a neighborhood or area than walking the streets. While there are lots of other types of public art in Central Square for this tour I have limited myself to murals and larger scale commissioned pieces.
Coming out of the Central Square T stop you can walk up or down Mass Ave and find each of the murals I’ve included in this post. I would recommend using Google maps to help locate each of them if you are unfamiliar with the area And keep in mind that some are Mass Ave adjacent, meaning they are within about a block of the main road.
GETTING THERE: Central Square is easily accessible via public transportation and can be accessed via the Central Square T stop, on the Redline. It is also on the #1 bus route, which runs up and down Mass Ave, and can be reached on foot from all directions.
Starting from the Harvard Square Side of Central Square start walking towards the river and see how many you can find! Keep in mind that not ALL public art in the area is included in this activity and certainly as time passes some new murals and works of art will pop up and some will be painted over.
- “Cambridge and Beyond” by Percy Fortini-Wright. 743 Mass Ave. (Look up)
- “Power” by Lena McCarthy. Pleasant Street and Green Street. ( Behind Pandemonium Books and Games )
- Ideo Building. Exterior designed by Eltono – 80 Prospect Street.
- “Queendom” by Marka27. 581 Massave (Look up again)
- “The Potluck” by David Fichter. Bishop Allen Drive. (On the side of Hmart)
- Rotating artists, Graffitti Alley – Aka “Modica Way” (Also near Hmart)
- Central Square Cultural District, Sign by Kenji Nakayama. 541 Mass Ave
- “Untitled” by Felipe Ortiz – Corner of Norfolk Street and Mass Ave. (To be updated when I find a title for this work)
- “Crosswinds” Brookline Street (On the side of the Middle East)
- Green Street Garage Mural – by Vise and Julez. Green Street Garage.
- “Dot Matrix” by Ed Andrews. Corner of Green Street and Pearl Street. Green Street Garage Stairwell
- Central Square Library – by Sylvia Lopez Chavez
- “Nocturnal” – by the Arts and Bio Collaborative. Corner of Brookline Street and Green Street
- “Diurnal” – by the Arts and Bio Collaborative. Corner of Green Street and Brookline Street
- “Untitled” Vyalone. On the corner of Pearl Street and Green Street.
- “Belonging” by the Fearless Collective. Lafayette Park and Columbia Street.
- “For Cambridge With Love from Nepal” by Imagine. Corner of Sidney Street and Massave.
Click through the gallery to see artists, titles and locations of work.
links to artist info: Marka27, Lena McCarthy, David Fichter, Kenji Nakayama, Imagine, Daniel Galvez, Eltono, The Fearless Collective, Problak, The Container Yard, Arts + Bio Collaborative, Central Square Mural Project