A Mural Dedicated to Marathon Victims Is On Hold

The public artwork has been taken off track while permit issues are sorted out, organizers say.

Photo via Jason Turgeon.

Photo via Jason Turgeon

They were planning on creating a “Wall of Hope.”

The mural was supposed to honor the runners of the Boston Marathon, and the victims killed in the tragic attack, and they had already spent hundreds of dollars on supplies and paint, and rounded up a group of local artists to start the project pro bono.

But before Jason Turgeon and the eight muralists from “Team Rekloos” could get their mural project off the ground, and onto the wall, the city allegedly brought it to a “screeching halt.”

Turgeon, who took on a project called Events at Bartlett Yards last year, which was meant to transform eight-and-a-half acres of abandoned MBTA property and turn it into a space for artists, food trucks and musicians, through a series of summer gatherings, says Boston officials weren’t keen on the crew of graffiti artists jump-starting the series with a giant painting dedicated to the Marathon. “When the bombing happened I went out to my artists and said ‘who wants to start a mural on the biggest wall right on the street?’ I got this great crew of eight guys … they put together this amazing design, and they started Monday. And by Wednesday, the cops showed up and shut them down and demanded permits and police details,” says Turgeon.

What was frustrating, he claims, is that he has been working with city officials in several different offices, for months on end, putting the final pieces together for the Events at Bartlett Yards, which begins May 11. Turgeon says the city knew that these abandoned buildings, which were turned over to him for the events by the new owners that purchased the land, were going to be covered in artwork all summer. The dedication mural, designed to depict runners helping one another through the finish line, while showing off the multi-cultural aspects of the Boston Marathon, was just an impromptu starting project based on the bombings. The artists had even gone as far as drawing up schematics, setting up scaffolding, and recording day-long videos of the process. “We are halfway through this mural that has been shutdown—it’s sitting there on Washington Street [in Roxbury] with a donated set of scaffolding sitting idle. Businesses are going to want their stuff back,” says Turgeon. “This is not some offensive piece of art, and the neighbor who lives across the street is helping to paint it, along with a friend of one of the victims.”

But no more work can be completed until Turgeon sits through a May 1 meeting with city officials to talk about next steps, something that seems to be a problem since the first event at Bartlett Yards is supposed to take place 10 days later.

Back in March, Turgeon said the city had been supportive of the group’s efforts,despite a lengthy process to obtain all the right permits. He said he still wants to see a “more streamlined approach to organizing events that foster community growth and bring arts and entertainment” to neighborhoods. Of course, that was before the recent stonewall he has encountered.

“I don’t know if the event is going to happen on [May 11], and now we have a half finished mural. It’s discouraging on so many levels, for my neighborhood, and we have tried to do everything we were supposed to do. Everyone knew we were doing this—murals and paintings—they have known for months,” says Turgeon.

In an attempt to discuss the formal process for putting a mural up, Boston reached out to officials in Mayor Tom Menino’s office, but has not received an immediate response. The story will be updated to reflect the latest information in terms of the project moving forward.

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