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Fenway mural beautifies sports dominated space

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It’s amazing what a fresh coat of paint will do. In collaboration with the Boston Redevelopment Authority, Artists for Humanity has installed a large-scale mural on oft-forgotten Ipswich Street between Back Bay and Fenway Park.

“There’s not a lot to look at,” says Jason Talbot, co-founder and special projects director of AFH Boston. “The street is poorly lit and a little dirty and unkempt. So we decided to jazz it up.”

The result is a striking, geometric piece that brings a fresh face to an old neighborhood.

The Boston Red Sox contributed project funds to the Boston Redevelopment Authority in an effort to beautify the Fenway neighborhood. As part of its 2013 Demonstration Project agreement, the Red Sox will contribute $100,000 every year, and the BRA will select projects from proposals submitted by a range of nonprofit organizations through an open application process. The projects are intended to bring an added level of depth to the neighborhood.

“It highlights the fact that Fenway isn’t just about baseball,” says Talbot. “There’s a vibrant art scene.”

Artists for Humanity employs high school students to complete commissioned art projects around the city.

“It puts kids to work and keeps them out of trouble,” says Talbot.

In fact, AFH is one of the largest employers of young people in the city during the summer months. For this project, they selected students who live or go to school in the Fenway, so they’ll be able to experience their own creation on a regular basis. The students found inspiration for the piece in a similar painting in the AFH collection. Clean lines and blocks of color create a sense of balance and simplicity.

Ultimately, the project was just as much about benefiting its student artists as it was about bringing flair to Fenway.

“Painting that mural under that bridge was by no means an easy task,” says Talbot. “All young people need to feel the sense of accomplishment that comes with hard work.”

For many high schoolers, working with AFH is an opportunity to see the business side of art. They are commissioned, expected to brainstorm a design and then execute it — and are paid — just as they might be in future roles as public artists.

The project is positioned next to a mural by the Boston Arts Academy, and Talbot notes that several AFH graduates worked on that mural, as well. During the baseball season, hundreds of thousands of people visit Fenway, a good many of them getting there via Ipswich Street. Eyes from all over the world will see the work of these teens.

As Talbot says, “The more art, the better for everyone. Art makes you well-equipped for life.”