The Revere Public Art Commission is looking to fight graffiti with graffiti. Rather than seeing the underpass at the corner of Revere Beach Parkway and American Legion Highway tagged with low-quality graffiti, at this week’s Public Art Commission meeting, commission member and Ward 1 City Councillor Joanne McKenna suggested looking at a way to bring more vibrant street art to the underpass. McKenna said graffiti at the underpass became an issue this summer when the state’s transportation department cut the grass and shrubs, making it easier for taggers to access.
“First of all, it really needs to be cleaned up,” said McKenna. She added that sometimes when the city cleans up graffiti, they use either a black backdrop or a different color that just becomes a blank canvas for the taggers to come back. McKenna said the graffiti either needs to be spray washed off, or covered with the same color as the concrete.
“If people are going to come down and graffiti it, maybe we should put out a call to artists, some graffiti artists that can do a really good job and make a really nice mural,” said McKenna. “But right now, it needs to be covered – that’s a gateway to Revere coming over that bridge.”
Commission member Rob Zierten said the call to street artists could be tied into a mural project for an underpass along the Northern Strand Community Trail, where there would be a half dozen artists painting a portion of the underpass each. “If we have a group of street artists working with the one Northern Strand spot, one could be given that mural,” after the work was judged on the Northern Strand, Zierten said.
Commission member Brian Harkins said if there were street art along the underpass, he would like to see it done by someone from Revere. “This being street art done by taggers, we want to engage the Revere tagging community and engage with them so they do less of destructive tagging and more of creative street art using air cans,” said Harkins.
McKenna said she likes the suggestions from Zierten and Harkins, and she suggested waiting until the Northern Strand project is further along before making a final decision. “We can deter graffiti artists from tagging if it is a really good, aesthetically pleasing piece of art,” said McKenna.