Can Public Artwork Save the ‘City of Sin?’

A group is trying to put a spin on peoples' perception of Lynn.

Photo via The Centerboard

Photo via The Centerboard

Members of Lynn-based nonprofit The Centerboard ascribe to the “broken window theory” that if you make a place beautiful, people will respect it. So they have spent a considerable amount of their time injecting works of art into otherwise “tough areas” in various neighborhoods so that they can slowly transform what is notoriously known as “the city of sin.”

Art curator Adam Miller likes to think of it as a facelift, where every little bit of improvement—either through art or free programs for the community—is one step in the right direction to help knock out Lynn’s reputation. “The city is certainly in need of some beautification,” says Miller, who is backing a project called “Public Art 3.0,” as part of The Centerboard’s efforts to bolster the art community. The project, which has an accompanying Kickstarter campaign to raise money for the cost of printing large pieces of artwork, will place six-by-eight foot photos taken by local artists onto a blank wall running through the city’s Central Square neighborhood.

The group had similar artwork in the same place at one time, but removed it so that the wall, which is owned by the MBTA, could be repainted. The re-installation will incorporate new photos, and the older ones will go up in other parts of Lynn. The theme of the new work is called “Hope,” according to organizers.

Carla Scheri, special projects coordinator for The Centerboard program, says Lynn is “one of those cities that suffered through the post industrial funk” in the 1980s, and has been spiraling downward ever since. But she believes there is a concerted effort by several entities within the city that will put Lynn back on the map, and get it going through the arts and culture community. “We are just trying to find little pockets in Lynn to beautify,” says Scheri, adding that she thinks their efforts are working, based on the fact that no one vandalized the first round of photos when they were initially installed. “The nature of the human spirit is everyone wants to see something beautiful, and no one wants to live with this trash in the gutter. I was pleasantly surprised, but not that surprised. I thought it was just nice of the neighborhood.”

Scheri says Lynn isn’t “that bad,” but realizes the stigma that comes with the city name, and through art programs like this, she says that’s a “vibe we are trying to change.”

The Centerboard will select seven works of art from various artists if they meet their fundraising goal on Kickstarter, and put up the photos on June 22.