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Beyond Walls: The Street Art of Lynn

May 8, 2018

by Dan the Traveling Man

Every spring, the Greater Boston Area hosts Art Week, a series of art events throughout the region. I recently went on a tour about the street art of Lynn, Massachusetts, by the non-profit organization known as Beyond Walls. In recent years, they have had both local and international artists create art projects throughout the center of Lynn. Although the tour was on a rainy day, it was still nice to learn about the meaning behind the artwork.

Lynn is a heavily multicultural city, especially due to having citizens coming from Latin America and southeast Asia. Most of the murals portray the cultures from those regions. There is one on 129 Munroe Street by Don Rimx that shows a man wearing colorful indigenous patterned clothing from Central America. The clothing looked quite stunning. This mural was partly inspired by its artist’s travels to the region. Central America is a place I hope to visit in the near future so it was fascinating to see remnants of its culture in the mural.

Another mural we walked by was  “Doña Patria” by Angurria on 516 Washington Street. According to our tour guide, Amanda, “Doña Patria” is like the Dominican version of Rosie the Riveter because it celebrates the pride and beauty of women from the Dominican Republic. The mural shows a woman with rollers in her hair and she is surrounded by foliage. Amanda also brought up that salons are popular places for women in the Dominican Republic to come together and the issue of how they tend to feel pressured to straighten their hair. However, the plants behind the woman symbolize the importance of natural beauty and that women should not change how they truly look.

There was another empowering mural called “Peoples of the First Light” by Nicole Salgar and Chuck Berrett. Located on 33 Central Avenue, it displays a Wampanoag woman holding a bow and arrow. It pays tribute to the Wampanoag Tribe, who used to live in present-day Lynn. This mural shows that despite how things have changed over the centuries, we cannot forget those who lived there before European colonization.

Some of the other street art promoted other positive messages like love and harmony too. A great example would have to be Caleb Neelson’s mural on 33 Munroe Street. It shows a quilt of various patch-worked designs, which represent diverse communities uniting together. There were other murals that seemed humorous too. For example, there was an untitled one by Tallboy and Brian Denahy. It shows Sasquatch wearing sunglasses while sticking its tongue behind the word, believe, which does not get any funnier than that!

During the tour, we had the chance to see some of the old neon signs of downtown Lynn. The majority of the signs used to belong businesses that are no longer around, such as Lad and Lassie’s Shoes. We also saw a neon sign that was part of an old Chinese restaurant. On the other hand, it is nice that the city still kept the signs because they represent Lynn’s past. They give the center of town a vintage feel because nowadays, most businesses do not use neon signs. Maybe someday, they will make a big comeback!

With all that is said and done, the tour of Lynn’s street art was a unique experience. It was interesting to see the different street art and learn about them. They certainly represent the history and people of the city. If you happen to be in Lynn, get the chance to check out the murals and the vintage neon signs. For more information about Beyond Walls, click here.

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