Artists, said Percy Fortini-Wright, are “librarians” of history. “Without the artists, you wouldn’t know what happened in the past,” he said. “Art is what man has created so far… It is the most important thing and should be put on a pedestal and not considered art as a profession. He should be considered the creative genius of mankind.
Fortini-Wright, a Boston-based mural painter whose style combines graffiti with fine art, has lofty goals for the arts. “The more people who take this path of freedom of self-expression and master it and use the revenue and share it with people, the faster we come to a better place in humanity and existence,said Fortini-Wright.
As Commonwealth reported, more and more Massachusetts communities, especially Gateway Cities, are turning to large public murals to transform their neighborhoods. Murals can boost civic pride, attract tourists and even improve public safety. On this week’s Codcast, we spoke to two mural artists, Fortini-Wright and Mike Grimaldi, about their craft.
Grimaldi, a Salem resident who goes by the art world’s Grimdrops, waited a decade after graduating from Montserrat College of Art before even attempting a mural. “I had great admiration for this work, but I was too scared to take on a project,” Grimaldi said. He took the plunge at a Salem arts festival, painting a four-by-eight piece of plywood, and was hooked.
Grimaldi describes his style as “very clean, very daring, very graphic”.
“Companies come to me with a general idea, and then it’s my job as an artist and a muralist to visualize it, to do something that makes sense for the project and what they’re looking for,” Grimaldi said.
Fortini-Wright describes himself as a realist and observational painter, known for his cityscapes, such as a Cambridge mural that depicts Central Square at night. “I have worked as an artist for a long time, fusing the aesthetics of fused graffiti and classic oil painting,” he said. His trademark motif is a zebra, reflecting his multiracial heritage and his zodiac sign Libra (the zebra, he points out, rhymes with Libra and has stripes, echoing the balance of opposing forces in the symbol of Libra scale).
While speaking on the Codcast, Fortini-Wright walked over to a huge mural of an Orange Line train, complete with a zebra, which he is painting for a private client and art collector who owns a data center. from Boston and commissioned the mural in a parking lot adjacent to the Orange Line.
When asked how to create gigantic murals on buildings, Grimaldi said he first designs his murals on his iPad and then either projects the image onto the wall or uses a grid method, dividing the image into squares and painting one square at a time.
Fortini-Wright usually sketches out his ideas and works from a reference photo, but focuses more on the big picture rather than sketching out every detail. He uses paint rollers with extension cords to stand high or low on a wall and extend his reach, and uses a combination of spray paint and household paint.
Fortini-Wright said part of her goal is to have a positive impact on the community, including inspiring other artists. “I think of artists as mini-creators where we kind of create our own little reality,” Fortini-Wright said. “I hope to inspire other artists to become artists too, other young people. Being able to create your own work from your own thinking, I think that’s our goal here.
Grimaldi said living in Salem, where the El Punto urban art museum filled The Point neighborhood with murals, and near Lynn, where Beyond Walls commissioned dozens of murals, he saw the impact art transformer. “The public art here is just amazing,” said Grimaldi. “They have the work of some of the most renowned street artists in the world. It definitely transforms the neighborhood. And I feel like that definitely makes you stop really liking it.
“I get excited, and the community seems to get excited, every time a new artist is brought to town to put on new work. It always gets people talking what i think is always for the best,“said Grimaldi.
Murals attract: Large-scale murals are spreading from community to community as municipalities discover that urban art can be a transformative form of community development. It operates in Lynn and Salem and extends to Holyoke, Fall River, Lowell, Lawrence, New Bedford, Springfield and Fitchburg. Read more.
Delay in FERC grants: The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approves a two-year deadline requested by the New England electric grid operator to integrate offshore wind into one of the region’s major electricity markets. Environmental activists say the decision will support the use of fossil fuels for another two years, while supporters say the delay will ensure a smoother transition to renewables. Read more.
Baker vetoes driver’s license bill: Governor Charlie Baker has vetoed legislation that would offer driver’s licenses to undocumented immigrants, saying the bill would require the Motor Vehicle Registry to issue licenses to people who cannot verify their identity. The bill requires license applicants to provide two forms of identification, but Baker said he’s concerned state employees may have the skills to verify the accuracy of documents, many of which could be from from foreign countries. Lawmakers are likely to override the veto. Read more.
Alarm bells in Allston: Allston resident Brett Whelan wonders if Harvard University’s corporate research campus is transforming his neighborhood into a less diverse port district. Read more.
A decade of indifference: Lane Glenn, president of Northern Essex Community College, laments the tragedy of Uvalde and how little has changed since Newtown almost a decade ago. Read more.
No concern for liability: Gary Lieberman, an attorney on the management side, says “vicarious liability” is not an issue with the issue of voting on rideshare app drivers. Read more.
Mental health supports: Lauren Jones of the Mass. Business Roundtable and Richard Pops of Alkermes applaud companies for recognizing the value of providing mental health supports to their workers. Read more.
FROM THE WEB
The backlog of cases at the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination flew during COVID, complaints taking years, not months, to resolve. (WBUR)
Commonwealth Secretary Bill Galvin said Governor Charlie Baker’s fear that granting illegal immigrants driver’s licenses will result in non-citizens being allowed to vote is “unfounded.” (MassLive)
A Daily article editorial slap Rep. Leonard Mirra for pushing legislation to oust Essex County Probate Court Associate Judge Abbe Ross for alleged bias. Commonwealth ran a story on the controversy a year ago.
Maps of Springfield extend its moratorium on new pawnshops and thrift stores as well as its 30-day waiting period to sell a pawned item. (MassLive)
The White House plans to open federally-sponsored testing and treatment sites in Massachusetts where people can get tested for COVID and get drugs right away if they’re eligible. (Gloucester Daily)
A childhood in Springfield and Longmeadow shaped former First Lady of New York Shirlane McCray. (MassLive)
The state building industry is urgent city leaders to tap into federal grants available under the new Jobs and Infrastructure Act to repair roads and upgrade water and sewer systems. (Salem News)
Starter and entry level homes are Gets harder to be found on the South Shore, with rising prices. (Registry of Patriots)
Congressmen from Massachusetts and Maine pressure the Department of Homeland Security to explain the low asylum approval rate at the agency’s Boston office. (GBH)
The former manager of English language learning services for Boston Public Schools says she was fired from her job just weeks into her term because she said the district was inappropriately directing English learners to regular classrooms. (boston globe)
Elected officials and public transit advocates say they still have confidence in MBTA chief executive Steve Poftak despite a series of security issues on the system that prompted federal scrutiny. (boston globe)
CRIMINAL JUSTICE / COURTS
A tobacco shop owner is charged for attempting to bribe a state lottery official after his son was denied the opportunity to collect lottery winnings because the winning tickets were illegally transferred to him. (MassLive)
Boston Police arrested nine people and confiscated 10 firearms in separate incidents over the long weekend in Dorchester and Mattapan. (Boston Herald)
The Executive Director of the Massachusetts Association of Chiefs of Police ties the low rate of school shootings in the state to the state’s strict gun laws. (Boston Herald)
David Carrasquillo, a rapper from Springfield known as Bossdawn, is killed during a shootout at the Saga VIP Lounge in Springfield. (MassLive)