What did they do at Arlington Heights?

Arlington Heights

Spatch is annoyed at the way the T let a store owner ruin the mural at the Arlington Heights bus station:

The MBTA has seen fit to cut out parts of the mural for a convenience store. Why they didn't bother to use one of the three remaining unpainted walls is beyond me.

Posted under this Creative Commons license and in the Universal Hub pool on Flickr.



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This may be illegal

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I know that there have been discussions about enacting laws in Massachusetts to protect works of public art. I don't know if any of those laws have been enacted. It would be worth investigating.

Silly liberals.

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No one cares about murals. They should have painted over the mural with a bold yet conservative color.



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are so ghetto. You can't put a shine on a sneaker.


The problem with murals

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Although murals can sometimes be nice to look at, I often find that a mural on an empty or derelict building just emphasizes the fact that there is nothing going on there and things are rundown. Similarly, a while back there was some art group that put artsy looking window displays in unoccupied storefronts in Downtown Crossing and Faneuil Hall.They were nice enough to look at, but had an empty kind of phony facade feeling, knowing that there was nothing there.

Back in the 70's

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Mayor White had murals painted on the pull down metal security screens covering many storefronts around the neighborhoods of Boston. Not just high crime areas but business sections of Southie, Hyde Park etc.
To be honest, it looked like shit. And it made these areas look like crappy sections of the Bronx.
Yes, murals, even tastefully done one like the whales off the Expressway, is so ghetto.


They did this on the street-facing side, no? Good move.

The mural was only for a blank wall, right? It's now an active storefront. Good move.

The remaining mural is still partially visible, creating an interesting view? Good move.

Murals shouldn't become sacred shrines never to be changed, removed, altered, etc.

Time to paint a new mural or

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Time to paint a new mural or extend the current one to whatever ugly blank walls remain at the station. An active storefront + expanded public art = less blight for all the commuters waiting for the T.

Yeah, well

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Tell that to the kid who painted himself in the mural and was pretty proud of it. Tell that to him the next time he goes out to bring a friend to see what he did when he was a kid, and discovers he's been sandblasted out of the picture.

Tell that to any of the kids who were very proud of what they'd done. The kid who painted Paul Revere's horse. The kid who got to do the letters in the "Entering Arlington" sign. Hell, even the kid who just got to slap paint on as directed and fill in the outlines with color.

Tell that to Tova Speter, whose life work is dedicated to beautifying public areas and bringing the community in to help do so.

Street-facing? Yes, it is. Good move? No, and if I say anything further on that it'll be an ad hominem attack on you and your opinions and will end with "and the horse you rode in on." There are multiple door and window cut-outs on all sides of the building. Two of the sides still face Mass Ave as you're approaching the building. A hanging sign out front could have directed traffic to the entrance just as easily as a front-facing door. The T took the cheap, easy way out of it and because of that they ruined a piece of public art that people have enjoyed for years.

I do urbex too, by the way, and when I explore an abandoned site I see the impact it had in its heyday, and the potential it could still have. I try to imagine what was there, what had been important, and what wasn't important enough to cart away when things went sour. It's fascinating, but often times I mourn what might have been.

There was nothing wrong with this mural. It wasn't even faded and in need of renovation, which is the usual excuse people and businesses use when they remove one ("It's just too expensive to touch up or fix!") This is a case of the T just disregarding what has been. To accept and support it is to spit in the face of those creative enough to add art to a public spot. That's all.

Good discussion; address the facts

I think Spatch has a pretty good handle on this issue. It's broader than some of the comments here suggests.

Read a lengthy look at what is involved at http://www.yourarlington.com/home/news/trans/378-t...

Update: The convenience store, operated by the Mass. Commission on the Blind, is now due to open by the end of June, but stay tuned.

As yet, no decision has been made about what to do about the mural.

Bob Sprague

Moral of the story, no murals?

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As other posters noted, and even you noted yourself, this was a building that was not being used. The mural helped brighten the place up.

Here's where opinions split. Some would think it great that there is going to be a storefront, providing employment and commerce. Others ( including you) are bemoaning the fact that in order to accomplish this, the mural is being cut up.

Were there no mural, there would be no controversy. Therefore, they shouldn't have painted the mural in the first place. What motivitation would property owners have to allow murals in the future if they would be enjoined from doing anything with their property afterwards?

I'm not from Arlington. I have no dog in this fight. It just seems to me that the mural served its purpose, had a good run, but now it is time to move on. Putting in doors and windows and preserving the mural- it just couldn't happen. Sorry.


Or more short-lived ones

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I like public art projects but not every piece has to live forever. This one was enoyed for 5 years (which is pretty good) and now it's going to be a store run by visually impaired people (seems pretty good too).
It seems like it would be better to try to do a different project (in a different place) every couple of years. Lots of art, but no single work is so precious that the space can't be reused.

What if they decided differently?

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What if they decided that the building had to go (replace or remove it)? Would they somehow be obligated to keep that wall free-standing or reformatted it into the new building just because it had a mural that kids helped paint?

Murals are a bit fleeting, some more than others. I get your anger and frustration. I agree; the way in which they went about this was absolutely dumb-founding to me as well. There may have been other options available to them that preserved the mural, but then again I feel they have no obligation to take them if they don't want to. However, in any case, they should have reached out to the muralist better. If nothing else, she should have been given a say in whether or not the mural remained a part of the facade once the windows and doors were in place where they wanted them.

Why is it that these

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Why is it that these muralistas feel that whatever paint they spalsh on someone else's property is so ' hot shit ' that it takes on a life of its own, that there is some sort of creative license that allows this stuff to be forced upon the masses as tasteful and enlightening? Sure it might help expand the horizons of youths, but you can paint street sign poles too. And I wont even try to compare this to the Greenway thing. All this self- excellency...

There's a difference

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Kids in the community painted the mural in Arlington.

A Contemporary artist from Brazil painted the mural in Dewey Square.

I think there's a huge difference between destroying something that makes kids take pride in their town and someone who is just looking for some free publicity.


Not private property

This is MBTA property, which means that we all own it collectively.

Nobody's against a convenience store, and the original post points out that it woud have been easy to install the doors and windows on a different side of the building, leaving the mural intact.


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I can see a lot of sides to this question, but I also have a lot of questions for both sides.

I can understand the anger and sadness by those that liked the mural as it was and feel there was little to no effort to preserve it in any way. There wasn't. They are right to feel that way. Why didn't the MBTA even reach out to the muralist before okaying the destruction of it?

However, we have to live in the now. Now, the mural is destroyed. I'd want to ask the artist if she is okay with the current state of the wall. It's possible she might actually want them to paint over it and remove what's left since so many necessary features have been destroyed, like Revere and the iconic road sign. Furthermore, she may not want her art associated with the store that is now poking out through her work. It wasn't her intent to have her mural used this way and she should be given the option to have it removed fully instead of partially (especially as they didn't consult with her up front).

It's a shame that they did this carte blanche but maybe it's time to blank out more than just the card.

Nuts to 'public' art

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After this episode, any property owner would be nuts to allow public art on their property.



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It is an ugly painting that looks like a 10 year old did it and should be covered up or removed