Covering eyesores until they can be permanently fixed

St. Leonard's Peace Garden

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.
Salem and Prince StreetSalem and Prince Street

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Comments

Heh

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Nicely done. :)

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How big do they come?

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Can we get one to cover the giant hole in Downtown Crossing?

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Interesting idea if carefully implemented

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I remember my Dad had one of those "photo wallpapers" of a forest scene on one wall of his office when I was a kid. It always seemed very 70's to me- the contrast between the industrial office carpet and the "natural splendor".

However the images are carefully chosen to seem in keeping with the space (as at the Peace Garden) I think it could be great. The thing to avoid is the incongruous image- the hawaiian beach scene on the wall of the Garden!

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They can cause lots of damage.

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Their roots have to grow into something. That something tends to be the masonry the buildings are made of.

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Hynes is an eyesore?

Maybe I'm all alone on this, but I consider it a handsome building, at least on the Boylston Street side.

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i like the art of painting

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i like the art of painting over photos, and Nate did a cool one of the garden. But my god, kill your website nate, kill it till its dead!!! use a blog like wordpress or something. 35MB to load your site, and then bad transitions, along with aliased text that is hard to read.... and again, 35MB?!

youve got some cool work on there, but nobody will ever see it because your website is just too hard to access & navigate.

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Got a new site

"kill your website nate, kill it till its dead!!!"

Done and DONE. Hope you approve of the new one.

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Hynes on Dalton St

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Yes Boylston is good. Dalton Street is the side that is bad.
The brick arch image is High St Substation on the Greenway near South Station

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