By Tien Le
On Saturday, May 18, MAPC participated in “Mural Fest” at Bartlett Yard in Roxbury’s Dudley Square. The day brought together local artists and community members to decorate and celebrate this former MBTA bus yard and maintenance facility before it is demolished later this year. Check out how much fun we had making our mural!
Mural Fest offered a refreshing twist on one of Dudley Square’s upcoming development sites. Local artists brought their creative minds and hands to paint murals across the yard’s vacant buildings, and the day had great turnout from teams of independent artists from such as places as New American Public Art, Mass College of Art, Artists for Humanity and Youth Build. Among the groups that participated, Dudley’s young adults brought hip-hop edge and neighborhood groove to Bartlett Yard, making it a hot spot for urban art.
MAPC was one of many community partners willing to take part in the painting and facilitating the event. Families and curious pedestrians dropped by to observe completed artwork or pieces in progress. The event featured outdoor seating, food trucks, music from local DJs and break dancers Floor Lords. Yet much of the event’s attraction came from the contemporary street art and graffiti on display by Dudley’s talented youth.
Bartlett Yard is a former MBTA bus yard, a storage and maintenance facility that opened for use in 1970 and closed in 2005. As architects and planners home in on Bartlett’s reconstruction for the future, the site is being used for art and cultural events. Eventually, it will be the home of Bartlett Place, a major new residential and retail development.
Nuestra Comunidad, the community group which purchased the yard in 2010, has long planned for a mixed-use development to come to the site, but have supported the yard’s temporary function as an outdoor arts and community space in the meantime. Nuestra has allowed art takeovers from Bartlett Yard Events, an initiative launched by local event producers Jason Turgeon and Jeremy Alliger. The hope is that these art takeovers will revitalize the yard and invite artists to use it as a gallery exhibition and workshop area. For the mural fest, these local organizers wanted to take the yard’s stock of spray and wall paints out of storage and into the hands of Dudley’s artistic youth.
The Mural Fest marked MAPC’s first involvement with the Bartlett Yard Events initiative. It is also the agency’s first on-the-ground effort in community engagement, coordinated by Community Liaison Emily Torres-Cullinane. MAPC’s wall, “The Vision for Boston and Your Neighborhood,” was participatory, inviting observers to create and paste magazine cut-outs that reflect visions or feelings about their neighborhood.
The goal was to create a collage expressing hopes and dreams of a better Boston and Dudley.
Some participants expressed these hopes with MAPC staff. One woman expressed her wish of more sit-in restaurants at Dudley.
Two local teens added their cutouts to MAPC’s wall. When asked about their thoughts on the mural fest, one remarked, “I live two or three blocks away from Bartlett and something like this never happens in our neighborhood. I wish this could happen every weekend.”
The large turnout of Dudley’s young and old stands as proof of the community’s self-sufficiency and its loyal supporters. As MAPC concludes its first kick-off event into the summer, it so far, has shown that the best way to learn about urban and community engagement is to see it in action.
~ Tien Le is MAPC’s Summer Community Engagement Intern. She will be a senior at Brandeis University, where she is studying Economics and Politics.