Public Art Installation Pokes Fun at Fort Point Neighborhood

It had a lot of people confused and believing that a cantankerous resident was afoot.

A photo posted by Pat Falco (@pat_falco) on

What some people thought was a contentious sign placed by an angst-y resident of the Fort Point neighborhood this week turned out to be nothing more than a public art installation that’s part of a month-long project sponsored by the Boston Center for the Arts.

On Tuesday, images of the newly installed “Welcome” sign on Summer Street bearing a snarky message designating Fort Point as the preeminent neighborhood for luxury condos were passed around after landing on Twitter.

It wasn’t until later, after conversations about the area’s claim of being the oldest artist quarters in New England, that WBUR arts reporter Greg Cook pointed out that it wasn’t a surly prankster trying to make a point who placed the “luxury condo” sign where the word “artists” used to be—it was actually an artist himself.

Called “Untitled November,” the white label was just one of many slogans and “interventions” placed around the city this month by Pat Falco, a graduate of Massachusetts College of Art and Design who was recently picked to be the Boston Center for the Arts’ newest artist-in-residence.

The installations, which have included flags hanging outside of Kijidome, an artist space in the South End; a fake stop sign that reads “Stay,” and banners over the highway, have been popping up in different neighborhoods since November 1. The art series will come to a halt at the end of the month.

Falco, who runs the Distillery Gallery in South Boston, creates “deadpan, hilarious yet pointed text-based signs and objects that he deploys in the public realm,” according to his biography on the BCA’s website. These signs are meant to get people talking, and to “provoke conversation about challenging contemporary issues” while exploring the intersection where art and activism collide head-on.

His Fort Point sign seems to be doing exactly what he had intended, stirring up debates about Boston’s changing landscape and the invasion of sky rises that threaten, in some cases, to push out the middle class by featuring high-priced luxury housing options.

“His art practice revolves around everyday life, using text and found objects to highlight the absurd, and interacting with his surroundings using a humorous approach,” according to the BCA. “Their purpose ranges from acting as a catalyst for conversation about city-related issues, to bringing attention to under-recognized topics.”

Mission accomplished.