“The symbolism of the mural is inspired by a Maya mask that represents birth and death from 700 AD,” Victor “Marka27” Quiñonez told me as he finished painting his new mural, “Rebirth” (detail pictured above), in Somerville’s Union Square tonight. “And at the center of the mural is an indigenous Brazilian child because in Somerville I realized there is a big Brazilian population.”
The monumental artwork is one of three street-art style murals being painted in Somerville this week as part of an initiative encouraged by Somerville Mayor Joseph Curtatone, who the city says wanted to infuse the community with more bright murals. The project was produced by my friends at the Somerville Arts Council (with whom I’ve collaborated to produce a number of festivals).
In addition to Quiñonez’s mural at 2 Union Square, David Zayas from Puerto Rico is painting a mural at Taco Loco, 46 Broadway, and Angurria from the Dominican Republic is working on one at Ola Café, 112 Broadway.
“It’s important and significant that we have diverse stories represented in our public art,” says Nina Eichner of the Somerville Arts Council, who is coordinating the project.
A free parade is scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 30, at 6 p.m., to celebrate the murals. Local Brazilian band and activist group Grooversity will lead it from 46 to 112 Broadway, followed by refreshments and more music outside the East Somerville branch library.
Angurria and Zayas have additional murals in Lynn, while Angurria also has one in Worcester.
This year, Quiñonez, a Cambridge-based painter with Mexican roots, has completed murals at Boston’s Tobin School and on Quincy Street in Boston’s Grove Hall neighborhood. Other local murals he’s painted in recent years can be seen on Centre Street in Boston’s Jamaica Plain neighborhood, at Underground at Ink Block in Boston’s South End, and in Lynn and Worcester. Quiñonez is scheduled to paint a mural in Cambridge’s Central Square next month.
“It’s all ‘Neo Indigenous,’” Quinonez says. “It’s the way I express culture in a new way, but sill pay homage to the tradition.”
“This is hopefully just the beginning of a larger project,” Eichner says, “and we’re excited to continue with more diverse artists going forward.”
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