Public art helps to define a place. Art serves as anchors, orienting us as we navigate our way through the city. We’ll remember a specific corner, move towards a particular building, understand the network of streets thanks to the constellation of art arrayed throughout the community.
Four new murals will be coming to Chelsea this fall as part of the City sponsored projects of Chelsea Prospers. Since 2017, Chelsea Prospers facilitates events, public art and human-centered infrastructure projects in the City of Chelsea, with the goal of weaving community connections and healthier, happier and more prosperous city. Past work includes the Division Street Neighborway, an art-filled alley through the downtown, and a number of special events including the Cruising Chelsea Car Show and Electronic Tobin held this past summer.
A Call to Artists over the summer generated applications from more than 40 artists and creative teams, with a number of the artists based across the US and working internationally. A Review Committee selected an exciting group of artists representing a variety of styles.
The Sirxns Crew will create a mural for the side of Market del Sol on Addison Street. This group of female identified and queer artists previously created a mural on Division Street for the rear entrance of North Suffolk Mental Health. Familiar local artists Jenna Feldman, Sury Chavez and Fernanda Lopez are joined by Sara Barrientos, , Alison Miller, and Melissa Clarke. Their approach is centered on the interest in socially-engaged public art as expressive art therapists, educators, and activists. “We believe in the power art holds to enliven spaces and connect people as well as amplify voices heard in community conversations.,” they say. “Approaching our mural making from a mixed media and a site-specific perspective allows us to work in a call and response collaboration with the community.”
The Sirxns will begin painting on Addison Street this weekend but their art-making has already begun. Customers stopping into Market del Sol can pick up a coloring sheet that has a black and white sketch of the mural’s base design. While the group is at work, passersby will be invited to contribute words that will be incorporated into the design.
Also starting work this week is Sasha Kuznetsova who works under the art name of KOUZZA. Sasha will transform the jersey barriers and chain link fence at the Everett Avenue on-ramp to Route One with an ocean theme.
After a career as a biologist, two years ago Sasha become freelance artist and illustrator full-time. Her work gravitates towards nature. “I love organic shapes and all the colors,” Sasha said. She’ll paint in blues and greens the ocean bottom along the jersey barriers. For the fence atop it she’s crafting fish and seaweed in quilted fabric. To delight pedestrians, she’ll also attach a variety of treasures like shells, seaglass and water-worn pebbles inside the voids in the fence.
Coming very soon are two other murals for under the Route One viaduct.
At Second Street, Lena McCarthy celebrates the natural world in a different style. Lena says, “My vision in creating public art is to be a vehicle for pause, to create a space for people to feel their own softness and heartbeat, and ultimately inspire more connection and joy in the public space. I learned not too long that some areas of Chelsea are the hottest areas of the city and the steps being taken to reduce these effects. I think it could be interesting to address this in an artwork in an abstracted/allegorical form.” Her painted design will repeat natural shapes to create a geometric design.
East Boston artist Felipe Ortiz has been creating work on an national and international level. His subject matter is mostly nature as well, primarily migratory birds. For the underpass of Route One at Webster Street he’s embracing the way people will be viewing the work while passing it at different speeds. He’s created a signature style called “Explosive Nature” that dynamically elongates the design. “Explosive Nature is colorful, vibrant, has lots of movement, and It can be informative and playful as I depict an exchange of migratory local fauna in tropical settings.” Felipe explained, “The style lends itself for large areas with vehicles and pedestrians passing at various speeds.” His design will be painted onto either side of that dreary underpass and serving as a dramatic gateway to Chelsea.
A mural for a fifth site at Yogi’s Market on Broadway has been postponed until painting weather returns next spring. The selected artist, Willy Gomez, had a family emergency and had to return to the Dominican Republic just as work was slated to begin. His design is a tribute to Irene Rice Pereira. Born in 1902 in Chelsea, Rice was a poet, painter and philosopher who played a major role in the development of modernism in the United States.