Boston artist Pat Falco’s exhibition “A Graveyard in the Sun” at Gallery Kayafas in Boston from March 24 to April 29, 2023, is suffused with a forlorn feeling of loss–the loss of neighborhoods, of eras, of the place you grew up, the place you thought you knew.
The gallery’s website describes it as “a mixed media installation exploring the conflicting interests of memory, reality, and desire on the concepts of home.”
“I dream of a city that cannot exist. You were there,” Falco writes on screenprinted posters that he’s wallpapered across one of the gallery rooms. His aesthetic can bring to mind middle school notebook doodles, street graffiti, folk art sign painting, and those photocopied broadsides you find stapled to utility poles. It’s often funny sad, like a sign he drew here: “Wrong Time Wrong Place.” But it also offers pointed social critique. Falco, the gallery notes, previously “has produced a series of installations critiquing housing policies and development in Boston and vying for alternatives on a path to housing justice.”
On a wall of bleached out photos of Boston, of earth movers and soaring cranes and demolition machines clawing apart buildings, Falco has graffitied: “All signs form a language”; “But not the one you think you know.”
Falco has constructed a room in the middle of the gallery out of a seeming collage of paintings of business signs for pizza places and barber shops and dry cleaners and auto shops and the state lottery. There’s one of those red and white X signs that I think fire departments post on adandoned buildings. Nearby is a vacuum-formed plastic sign that lights up to read like a poem: “Sighs at every fading of the stars.”
Inside the room is a painting of alien faces with “It’s worth more without you” scrawled in the bottom corner. Across the interior walls, he’s graffitied: “Is your journey only in the past.”
The exhibition feels like part elegy for and part anger about an old ramshackle Boston that’s quickly disappearing to endless generic luxury condo “developments” that still somehow don’t solve the shortage of housing here. It feels like ruins of a lost civilization.
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