Controversial Dewey Square Mural Coming Down

Os Gemeos' mural at Dewey Square Park in Boston will be replaced this fall. (Photo from Rose F. Kennedy Greenway Conservancy website)

The large, colorful mural located along the Rose F. Kennedy Greenway at Dewey Square Park, which has drawn some controversy since it was created in July 2012, will be coming down this fall.

The 70-by-70-foot mural painted on the air intake structure between Summer and Congress streets has reportedly begun deteriorating and is due to be replaced soon, Greenway Conservancy director Charlie McCabe told Boston Magazine recently.

While no new artist had been selected, McCabe told the magazine he expects to announce what project will replace the mural by August, calling the space “a great and very visible canvas.”

Created by Brazilian twin brothers Otavio and Gustavo Pandolfo, known together as Os Gemeos, the mural was designed in coordination with the brothers’ first solo exhibition in the United States, which was on display at Boston’s Institute of Contemporary Art from Aug. 1 through Nov. 25, 2012.

The colorful mural depicts “a giant, yellow-colored character in brightly mismatched clothes who appears to have squeezed himself in between the towering buildings that surround him,” according to the description posted on the Greenway website. “These yellow-colored characters are an iconic and recurrent feature in Os Gemeos’s work, and are depicted in a wide variety of situations.”

The artists have said the image is that of a young boy wearing pajamas, with clothing wrapped around his head.

But shortly after the mural went up, some individuals began commenting online about the figure looking like a “terrorist.” The racially charged comments reportedly first appeared on Fox 25 Boston’s Facebook page but have since been repeated, discussed and argued against around the Web.

As recent as May of this year, Universal Hub reported that a Boston resident had complained about the “terrorist mural on the front of the building across from the Federal Building” via the city’s Citizens Connect, calling the artwork “a disgrace” and “extremely offensive.”

The mural was always intendend to be temporary, according to the Greenway website, and had a tentative end date of October 2013 “dependent on its condition.” 

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