Imagine City Hall or the Hynes covered in vines.
If Nate Swain has his way, it could happen. For the past couple of years, he's been covering eyesores in the North End with vinyl canvases covered with high-resolution photos. See if you can spot his work in the photo above.
His first project was in a building facing Salem and Prince streets in 2009. He photographed and then printed scenes such as a cat on a windowsill with flowers in pots; a goldfish swimming in a bowl, printed them onto a mesh vinyl back, then installed them over the windows. The idea is to create a sort of an "idyllic" concept, as he calls it.
Similarly, two of the walls at St. Leonard's peace garden on Hanover Street have been stretched and pinned over with a massive 20-foot vinyl image of vines - taken at the Arnold Arboretum. "It's simply imagery, not something that's in-your-face," he says adding, "it's more like photo-real art that's moveable and non-permanent."
Swain's idea came from a sort of epiphany after realizing that street art doesn't solely have to be in the form of paint or graffiti - and that photography can play a role, especially with all the high-resolution cameras out there. "Architects have left us with all these empty walls and it costs so much money to re-do or fix them. This is a very fun, lively way to fix that, it's instant gratification," he says. He adds that if the building owner wants to make actual improvements, the vinyl, printed at Boston Building Wraps, can be taken down in a few hours without a trace.
"I think the idea of graffiti street art can be very narcissistic and antagonizing," Swain says, one of the many reasons he chooses to do art that can be either temporary or long-term, but is easy to take down and doesn't harm the original structure.
Swain says he wants to expand outside the North End. Some future ideas for what he calls "a citywide beautification project," include places such as the Boston Harbor Island Pavilion, the Macy's building, the wall at TD Garden, the Hynes Convention Center, the Boston Public Library and even the biggest eyesore of them all: City Hall.