The Controversial Dewey Square Mural Is Coming Down
The giant mural in Dewey Square that caused controversy and racially charged commentary is coming down.
The colorful artwork, painted on the utility building housed above the Interstate 93 tunnel by Brazilian brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, who go by “Os Gemeos,” will be replaced by a new mural beginning in the fall.
The mural, which went up in July 2012, is withering and fading, and officials have decided it’s time for something new, according to Charlie McCabe, director of public programs for the Rose Fitzgerald Kennedy Greenway Conservancy, the non-profit entity tasked with providing public artwork along the strip of grass that runs through Causeway Street. “We are looking to either remove it or replace it sometime in the fall,” says McCabe. “We are hoping to announce what the new project on the structure will be by August.”
The structure, a 70-foot-by-70-foot Air Intake building located between Summer and Congress Streets, was transformed into a painting for the first time last summer. McCabe says every piece of art—from sculptures, to paintings along the Greenway—has an 18-month shelf life. Because this particular mural is beginning to show signs of deterioration, replacing it sooner than the designated timeframe felt like a smart move.
McCabe says the Conservancy is working with the Institute of Contemporary Art to find a suitable mural to go up in place of the “Giant of Boston,” but no artists have been selected at this time. The ICA was responsible for helping bring the “Os Gemeos” brothers to Boston last year to create the multi-colored figure that is currently on the side of the building, facing South Station.
The mural sparked some outrage in the community and created a lot of public discourse, some of which lead to racially charged commentary and opinionated thoughts about what the figure actually was. The comments first surfaced on Fox 25’s Facebook page, and later garnered national attention.
The artists claimed the mural is of a young boy in his pajamas, with clothing wrapped around his head, but spectators went as far as saying the mural looked like a “terrorist” and “towel head.”
McCabe would not say what the next painting would be, or who would do it, but hinted that an announcement would be made later this summer after they submit a permit and proposal to reuse the space with Boston’s Art Council. “No [artists have] approached us directly, but through our partnership with the ICA, they are continuing to bring new and different artists to Boston and they have come up with some possibilities,” he says. “We view it as a great and very visible canvas, and I think everyone has gotten used to having something there.”