Implemented via City Ordinance, Percent-for-Art requires that one percent of the construction costs on municipal capital investment be designated for use in developing site-responsive public artwork. With a core focus on increasing the quantity, quality and overall awareness of art in the city’s public space, the Arts Council has overseen the creation and development of more than 200 artworks. These artworks can be found in a variety of locations including youth and senior centers, schools, libraries, parks, plazas and sidewalks. Artworks sited through this program engage directly with their surroundings to create, enrich, or reveal a sense of place. Each artwork is created in active response to the character and history of its location and reflects the dynamic and creative exchange between professional artists and the broader community.
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Public Art Tour Cards
Explore Cambridge Arts' public art collection with cards highlighting themed tours you can take throughout the city. Find art that engages the themes of activism or colors or nature or play. Discover tiny treasures and creative benches and artworks that are fun to explore by bicycle. View the tour cards.
Sketch of Monique Aimee's mural design for the City’s new brine tanks at St. Peter’s Field.
New Cambridge Public Art: Mural At Cambridge’s St. Peter’s Field, Mosaic For Moses Youth Center
Two new public artworks are coming to Cambridge in the next few weeks from Cambridge Arts and the City of Cambridge. Monique Aimee will be painting murals directly on the City’s new brine tanks at St. Peter’s Field and David Fichter will install a mosaic at Moses Youth Center.
Monique Aimee (http://moniqueaimee.com) is an illustrator and lettering artist whose clients have included Coca Cola, Disney, Target, Coach and Chronicle Books. Beginning next week, the Cambridge artist will paint a mural on four new brine tanks the City has constructed at the parking lot for St. Peter’s Field, next to Danehy Park, as part of a pioneering program to reduce the use of salt in de-icing winter roads.
Aimee writes, “This mural celebrates the joys of going to your local park with scenes such as bike riding, dog walking, and gardening. The purpose of these brine tanks is to have a better environmental impact, so I wanted to make sure the theme of nature and growth is present from any angle. This mural also highlights a bit of the history of the clay pits and brickyards in the 1800's that would eventually become Danehy Park.”
The four 12-foot-tall brine tanks were installed for a pilot program that treats icy road surfaces with a brine solution of salt and water that reduces ice buildup on roads but uses a quarter of the salt that is normally deployed in reducing icy street surfaces.
In November 2019, David Fichter (left) worked with guests at Cambridge'sMosesYouth Center on the community mosaic for the exterior of the building.
Cambridge artist David Fichter (http://www.davidfichter.com) has begun to install a new 40-foot-long, 16-inch-tall mosaic above the front entrance of Cambridge's Robert and Janet Moses Youth Center. Cambridge youth and community members helped develop the artwork, including hands-on work arranging the mosaic tiles.
Fichter writes, “The mosaic celebrates both the activities that take place at the youth center and the legacy of Robert and Janet Moses, Cambridge residents who were important organizers in the Civil Rights movement in the South.”
Fichter’s mosaic is funded by Cambridge Arts' FLOW grant program, which has supported 11 percent-for-art cultural projects designed for Cambridge’s Port neighborhood in parallel with a major City infrastructure construction project to reduce flooding in this neighborhood between Central and Kendall squares.
In 2018 and '19, Fichter worked with students at Cambridge's Fletcher Maynard Academy to create a mosaic for the corner of the building at Broadway and Windsor Street. Fichter also created an outdoor mosaic at Community Art Center in Cambridge. He has painted landmark murals across the region, including murals on the Trader Joes on Memorial Drive in Cambridge, at the parking lot at Norfolk Street and Bishop Allen Drive in Cambridge's Central Square and at the Alewife MBTA station in Cambridge, as well as his Mystic River Mural Project along Mystic Avenue in Somerville.
Christopher Janney, Light Shadow: MLK
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. School (102 Putnam Avenue)
Commissioned for the new Martin Luther King, Jr. and Putnam Avenue Upper Schools, Christopher Janney's Light Shadow: MLK is a 7-foot x 32-foot "urban musical instrument" designed to engage the school community in playful exploration. A computer model of the artwork will serve as a lab for STEAM learning, allowing students to reprogram the wall with their own light and soundscapes.
Anxiety of Beauty – Revisiting the Fountain of Youth
Paine Park (corner of Antrim and St. Mary)
Beginning in February 2008, Cambridge-based artist Mela Lyman turned the Arts Council Gallery into her painting studio to re-create a large-scale mural for Paine Park (St. Mary Road, a few blocks from the Gallery). The public was able see how the mural evolved and continued to develop over many months. By creating open access to the creation of a public artwork, the artist and the Arts Council provided a unique view into the artist’s process and gave the artist an opportunity to connect with the public. The completed mural was installed in Paine Park in the spring of 2009.
(partially completed mural as seen in the Arts Council gallery)
Known for her paintings of swimmers, among other subjects, Mela Lyman’s most recognized public artwork is her painted circular frieze depicting swimmers, “Transported,” at the Water Shuttle Terminal at Logan International Airport in Boston. The artist returns to this signature theme with a new vision for the Paine Park mural, which Lyman created originally in 2001 through a commission from the Cambridge Arts Council’s Public Art Program. For the original mural completed in 2002, the artist also involved the public in the process. She worked with young children of the neighborhood, and incorporated their drawings into a “euphoric landscape,” physically attaching the drawings to the mural. Subsequent deterioration of the drawings and fading of colors led the artist to re-imagine her mural anew.
Mela Lyman’s work has been featured in numerous museums and galleries nationally, and has been reviewed in ARTFORUM, Art New England, and New Art Examiner, among other magazines and newspapers. She received her fine art degree from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, where she is currently a professor. In addition to the Paine Park mural in Cambridge, MA (2002), her public arts commissions include a painted interior frieze, Water Shuttle Terminal, Logan International Airport, Boston (1994) and Simpkin Swim Center, County of Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA. (2002).