A House in Allston Has Become a Public Art Project

Welcome to a very, very colorful corner of Western Avenue.

allston public art

Photo by Lily Rugo

On a quiet street in Allston, there’s a vividly colorful house that looks like it was ripped from the pages of a fairy tale. The two-story structure, however, is quite real. Bright colors, unusual patterns, and shiny textures mark the building at 273 Western Avenue from almost a mile away.

The formerly unused, now vibrant building is a recently completed art installation by Baltimore-based artistic duo Jessie Unterhalter and Katey Truhn, better known as Jessie + Katey. Their bold mural is meant to explore movement and symmetry—in parts, the painting curves around corners and spills onto the ground.

Jessie + Katey’s project is a part of Zone 3: a new initiative that seeks to inject liveliness into the Western Avenue neighborhood of Allston. Its main goal is to revive the area through events, public art, and community building.

Organized by marketing firm Isenberg Projects and leasing strategy firm Graffito SP, the full-building mural began in early May. After a month of painting, the house hosted an official opening celebration on June 2.

“I don’t think there’s anything like it in the city,” says Gustavo Quiroga of Graffito SP. “It’s becoming, and I think it will become, an iconic piece in the neighborhood.”

Throughout the month, Jessie + Katey held two open workshops to get the community involved with the project and to listen to feedback from the neighborhood. The first was a screen printing workshop that taught community members how to create their own posters, with the option to add them to the installation. The second workshop invited the public to stick the wheat-pasted posters onto the building.

“(Jessie + Katey) are two amazing public artists that really like to engage the community wherever they go,” says Liz Woodward of Isenberg Proejcts. “We thought that was really an important part of a big public project like this. It gave (the community) a really cool sense of ownership over a piece of art in the neighborhood.”

The artists used recycled materials, including bottle caps, plastic shopping bags, and aluminum beer cans to add texture. Before they began working on the project, Unterhalter and Truhn prepped more than three thousand cans by cleaning them, cutting them up, and flattening them out.

Jessie + Katey’s installation is the most recent (and most eye-catching) project completed in Zone 3 to date.

“I think our whole goal is to bring a little joy, and on a basic level, it does that,” Unterhalter says. “It’s fun to give people a new definition of what art is and what art can be.”

allston public art

Photo by Lily Rugo

Photo courtesy of Zone 3