Jamaica Plain

City program unites students, businesses through art
Diana Schoberg

The Boston Mural Crew has painted 16 murals in Jamaica Plain. This one, “Baker’s Delight,” is on the side of Estrella Bakery, 333 Centre St.
A mural should tell a story, says Heidi Schork, director of the Boston Mural Crew.

“It’s really the job of the artist to find the inspiration within the community,” she says.

She should know. The Mural Crew, a branch of the city’s Office of Cultural Affairs, has painted over 100 murals since its inception in 1991. Of those, 16 are in Jamaica Plain.

“We’re really sort of pan-city,” she explains.

The program finds walls to paint on through the Boston Main Streets program, other city departments, building owners, community-based organizations, or just by driving around and seeing a blank wall. Sometimes the artists do a mural just for the sake of doing a mural, but other times it’s to solve a problem, such as graffiti or a negative perception of a neighborhood.

“If things look shabby, it changes the vibe a little bit,” Schork says.

The Mural Crew is made up of teens from around the city. In years past, the program had up to five crews each summer. The number of murals completed each summer varies, depending on the weather, the size of the wall and the scope of the work. Because of budget cuts, last summer the Mural Crew only had two crews and completed four murals. This summer, Schork says she expects around 30 youth. An ongoing after-school program is currently working on 5-by 9-foot portraits of social justice leaders in Boston history to hang on the Boston Public Library during this summer’s Democratic convention.

The teens connect with the Mural Crew through area high schools, siblings, or through their own interest after seeing the murals around town. They register to work for the city in February and are asked to submit samples of their artwork. Some have vast portfolios. Others have one quick drawing.

Schork says she rarely rejects applicants, but some do choose to leave the program once they find out what’s involved: rising at the crack of dawn, making a quick sandwich, taking the T and buses and working five hours in the hot sun. The ones who stick it out find out that hanging out on scaffolding, listening to the radio and painting is really fun.

“This is one way that we can get kids the experience of looking at the whole city and working with kids not just from their neighborhoods,” Schork says. Once they’re in the program, she says, many don’t want to leave. “We have a very difficult time getting rid of kids.”


Jamaica Plain Home
Estrella Bakery

Memories of Changes

One police officer's memories of changes in Hyde Square over the past 30 years.


Boston Mural Crew

Home |About Us | Contact |
Boston - City in Transition -| Copyright © 2004. All Rights Reserved.