HUB Madness 2019 presented by BNY Mellon is in full swing! We wanted to know more about the Central Square Mural Project, so we caught up with Michael Monestime, Executive Director of the Central Square Business Association. Check out his lightning interview below for details on how this unique public art project came to life.
Some background on the project:
Central Square is a neighborhood in flux. Once a bustling commercial district and now a vibrant culture district, gentrification is now putting the neighborhood's own residents at risk. The Central Square mural campaign pays homage to the past, present, and future of the neighborhood, a place where where life science, arts, culture and community connect. The murals — by artists Marka27, Problak, Caleb Neelon, Silvia Lopez-Chavez, Vise & Julz, Imagine, Percy Fortini-Wright, Lena McCarthy, and Kenji Nakayama — celebrate the local creative economy, equity, inclusion, and social and environmental justice, and spread this message throughout the area with features on iconic and easily-spotted buildings, including the Gas and Light building, the Green Street Garage, the old Blockbuster Video Sign, and a wall overlooking Lafayette Square, to name a few.
Where did the idea for the Central Square Mural Project come come from? What inspired you to begin this initiative?
Central Square has always been a hub for artists: We have the Graffiti Alley which last year turned 10 years old. We had been following other mural projects in Philly, Lynn, Worcester; Central had a base of OG murals painted in the late 90's early 2000's by Daniel Galvez and David Fichter, and we wanted to add to that stock and celebrate Greater Boston's bubbling creative economy.
What has been the biggest challenge of the project? How have you overcome it?
Projects of this scale cost a considerable amount of money. We ran a matching grant program with Patronicity that helped build community and unlock funds. Some walls also had logistical challenges. Central Square is a busy transit hub: We have a busy Red Line MBTA stop and seven cross-town buses that circulate through the neighborhood. Putting articulating lifts on Mass. Ave. was a challenge, but we have a strong partnership with the City and local businesses.
What's next for your organization and the project? What are you looking forward to accomplishing in 2019?
The Central Square Business Association has been campaigning for the formation of a Business Improvement District (BID). We are just a few weeks away from becoming a BID, and once we are, we will have a budget to create programs to celebrate our state designation as a cultural district, and in the late summer and early fall we will kick off Central Murals 2.0, which will add more murals and large format photography on highly visible buildings in the district.
What did you think was the coolest thing to come out of Greater Boston last year (aside from your project, of course)?
The community. I've lived in Boston my whole life, and there has always been an underground creative set. Boston can be very Brahmin, but in 2018 it was great to see that community start coming out in full force. I love what the Fairmont Innovation Lab is doing, Beyond Walls in Lynn is inspiring, and everyone in this HUBweek bracket is helping Greater Boston level up.
Cast your vote for the Central Square Mural Project before the Epic Eight round ends on April 3!