Neighborhood Public Art: Jamaica Plain
Jamaica Plain is known for its color—both metaphorically and literally.
From its independent shops and diverse population to the countless murals adorning the sides of businesses and residences, one stroll down Centre Street is akin to a visit to an art museum.
Here, we highlight a few must-see public art works in JP:
Corner of 397 Centre Street
At Beauty Master in JP, you can find the ever-loyal Clifford, a tiny mop of a dog, sitting on the welcome mat. Around the corner, you’ll find another pleasant surprise: a striking mural in pinks, purples and browns of stunning models with flowing hair. Like many other murals in JP, this one is commissioned by the owners of the shop on which it’s painted on.
Perkins Street, between Centre Street and S. Huntington Avenue
Painted on the back of a Whole Foods store is a piece of Taino culture. Rafael Rivera Garcia, known in Puerto Rico for brightening up the street corners of Guánica, painted this mural back in 1984 (and it was later restored by the City of Boston Mural Crew in 2003). The creation depicts the Huraca’n, meaning “center of the storm”—a word the Spaniards later adopted to describe tropical cyclones. The Huraca’n trio consists of angry wind goddess Guabancex and two helpers, the gods Guatauba and Coatrisque, who stir up lightning and water. Although Garcia passed away in 2014, his artwork lives on.
461 Centre Street
Originally painted on what was the side of the Petal and Leaf florist shop, which has since gone out of business, this whimsical mural depicts JP residents delighting in the natural wonders around them. Readers of the Jamaica Plain Gazette voted for this work as the best mural in JP every year from 2000 to 2003. Though the name “Petal and Leaf” has since been painted over, this colorful mural is still one of JP’s local favorites.
488 Centre Street
When Michael Dupuy of Streetcar Wine & Beer opened up shop three years ago in JP, he wanted to show a sign of thanks to the community. So, he hired Best Dressed Signs to do the job. The hand-painted mural now stands as tribute to public art. The piece features a chromolithograph (used for color printing in the 19th century), a music box, and a basket of fruit—an homage to the building’s former life as a grocery store. The black-capped chickadee in the bottom right corner is dedicated to Marie Sheehan Kurash, a JP resident from 1943 to 1969.
663 Centre Street
Created in 2011 by the Mayor’s Mural Crew, these two murals adorn the side of the Blissful Monkey Yoga Studio next to the JP Licks. Founded in 1991, the Mural Crew was created to combat a graffiti problem taking over Dorchester. Now, every summer, mural-painting professionals direct a group of young Boston artists in designing multiple murals throughout Boston every year.
672 Centre Street
When City Feed opened up its second location in town, a resident-favorite mural of a sleeping person dreaming of doves had to be painted over. Thankfully, Kristine Cortese, co-owner of City Feed, is a professional painter of murals and theater sets. Now, a sign with the words “Buy Fresh, Buy Local” adorns the space—alongside giant tomatoes—celebrating a key philosophy upheld by JP community members.
674 Centre Street
Painted on the side of Purple Cactus, a southwestern-style wrap house, is one of JP’s newest and most colorful creations. Painted by a team of 11 Boston youth members of the Mayor’s Mural Crew, guided by artists Heidi Schork and Tom Wiklund, the mural was completed in 2013. It’s titled “Nieli’ka” and features a kaleidoscope of ducks, butterflies, and flowers.
Create your own walking tour of public art in JP with our map: