Beautiful Murals in North Adams, Massachusetts
As you know by now, I love public art of all forms and we were happy to find lovely murals on our trip to the Berkshires recently. I’ll mention four, although we did see a couple of others.
The town of North Adams in the Berkshires has become an art friendly environment, as artists (both local and international), many local businesses, and the city government try to preserve this old mill town. Many of the old mill buildings and warehouses are now converted into galleries, shops selling vintage items and plenty of restaurants. Street art has popped up on many of the brick walls too, especially after the public art projects—DownStreet Art, and the Mural Project (2012)—were started. This project was designed to revitalize downtown North Adams, by harnessing art organizations and events already in the city and changing vacant and open spaces into art destinations that make locals proud and attract tourists. Well, they certainly did attract us. We were only in town for a couple of days attending a family wedding, but we managed to find many of the fascinating murals.
Just down from Public Eat and Drink (a great place to eat) is a long wall of eye-catching color. It’s a nearly 60-foot-long mural on the base of the Route 2 (Mohawk Trail) overpass—it’s beautiful and amazingly detailed. Egyptian artist Alaa Awad created it and gave it as a gift to North Adams. Awad has painted street art in Asia and Denmark and has had exhibitions and murals in Germany and throughout Egypt. This North Adams piece, though, is his first commissioned work in the USA. It was unveiled June 26, 2014. His work is inspired by historical
Egyptian tomb paintings, and his mural is covered in stylized figures of ancient gods, chimeric beasts, animals and people.
Awad aims to celebrate humankind and make Egyptian heritage known as a source of pride for Egyptians, and instill ideas such as “peace, mercy, justice and balance.”
Awad is a graduate and a faculty member of the Luxor Faculty of Fine Arts and Egypt, and he teamed up with fellow artists to use art to protest censorship, social injustice, and civilian lives lost during the revolution in Tahrir Square in 2011.
On the opposite side of the street is another large bright mural, this one very abstract. It was done by Maya Hayuk in 2012.
And on the back of the Mohawk Theater nearby is a huge colorful mural by Spanish art collective Muralismo Publico. It seems to have a flamenco/Spanish dance theme.
In the lobby of MassMoCA (and therefore free to view) is a fascinating 120-foot-long mural by Barbara Takenaga, called “Nebraska”. She presents an image of the wide-open plains of her home state. Pulsating lines of white dots, repeated 14 times, radiate out from a horizon line, making us think of neat rows of corn extending as far as the eye can see, and an infinite canopy of stars above.