Murals For All: The People's MFA

By Rory Lambert-Wright for BCN #134

April 8, 2021

Things are warming up, and after what was inarguably the worst winter in our generation’s collective experience (and I’m not talking about the weather), we all need some time outside. If a walk is what you need, I invite you to visit some of the pieces in our second installment of Murals For All: a collection of Boston street art created by and for locals- or anyone who appreciates the work of skilled painters.


1. Universally Rooted, Sobek (Instagram: @supersobeksix)

Photo Credit: Rory Lambert-Wright


Heavily inspired by graffiti artists in his youth, Sobek has been painting in Boston for many years. His most recent work can be found on a series of concrete barriers in a lot across from the Grove Hall library. Sobek worked alongside the Boston Arts commission’s Sunflower project, a movement spearheaded by local artist Ekua Holmes to bring life to underutilized lots in Roxbury through gardening and art projects. Unfortunately, permits are slow to move due to the pandemic, so he decided to call Ekua and say, “I’m gonna paint in that lot and see what happens”. What happened was this: the production of a vibrant piece stretching about 15 feet featuring a sharp cascade of color woven into the dreadlocks of a bust in profile. Sobek plans to host an event in the area in early spring to bring as many muralists as possible to the area for collaborative project.


2. Lady Blue, Sobek (Instagram: @supersobeksix)

Photo Credit: Rory Lambert-Wright


A melancholy piece (also by Sobek) found on the corner of Cobden and Washington street memorializes Lady Blue- a Beta fish under the care of Sobek’s son who tragically passed (no cause of death determined- it’s often hard to say with a fish). The fish, adorned with a halo in the painting, was given a small service by Sobek and his son, who is portrayed via a figure on the opposite side of the piece.


3. Rules of Engagement by Ricardo “Deme5” Gomez (website: deme5.com, Instagram: @deme_phive)

Photo Credit: Rory Lambert-Wright


Following the George Floyd uprising, Gomez was inspired to make a large-scale piece with a message quite literally too large to fit on a wall, and so, he used the street as a canvass. It’s reminiscent of the “Black Lives Matter” lettering painted on prominent streets in cities across America during the summer of 2020. The reason for the resemblence? Ricardo was going to make one as well, but locals Kai Grant and several volunteers beat him to the punch with a street mural on Washington and Palmer. Instead, he decided to adorne Bartlett Station Drive (just a stone’s throw away from the Roxbury police precinct) with the words “Love, Respect, Compassion”- what the artist deems to be essential “rules of engagement” for people interacting with each other in a healthy society. This phrase usually refers to standards (presumably) used by the military and police when engaging hostile threats. It’s nice to see it applied to a message of mutual respect and decency without the context of violence.