public art TOUR
Public art at its best is like a book a community has written together. It tells the story of its past and its dreams for its future. It
This tour was researched and developed by Mimi Graney. Mimi is the Civic Design and Community Engagement Strategist for the City of Chelsea. Her work focuses on using shared public space as a means of building a stronger, more connected community.
Walking Stop #1
CIVil war memorial by franklin simmons
The figurative sculpture, and presumably the sculpture’s overall design, is attributed to Franklin Simmons, a prominent America sculptor of the 19th century. A native of Maine, Simmons moved to Washington, D.C. during the Civil War where achieved renown for busts and sculptures of national political leaders. His commissions include the Peace Monument in Washington, D.C., the seated portrait of George Washington for the Valley Forge Chapel and the statue of Ulysses S. Grant in the rotunda of the United States Capitol Building.
In 1868, Chelsea’s monument was sited in Union Park which was once on Arlington Street between Fifth and Sixth Street. In the aftermath of the Great Chelsea Fire, the monument was moved in 1911 to its present location in Bellingham Square. Learn more from the Massachusetts Civil War Monuments Project.
Walking Stop #2
Broadway at hawthorne street
Bellingham Square by Mags Harries
A collection of small bronze sculptures including a grocery bag, coffee cup and orange peel near the gazebo and across the street at the bus stop are by Mags Harries and were part of a revitalization effort of the downtown in the late 1980s. Several of the pieces have been lost over time during bench and sidewalk repairs.
Mags Harries’ public art projects have received national recognition and have won many awards. She observes the small things that, like DNA, reveal all that is important to know about a place. She uses surprise and sometimes humor to energize public places and communities.
Walking Stop #3
Division Street starting at hawthorne street
Division Street Neighborway by Multiple Artists
Since 2019 progressive efforts have transformed Division Street from a grubby alley into an art-lined Neighborway.
Works in 2019 focused on the block of Division Street between Hawthorne and Fourth Street. The efforts this year were coordinated by Neighborways Design.
Electric Chicken by Liz LaManche
Tu Casa Mural by Liz LaManche with community members
Save the Bees by Max Pro (completed 2020)
Royalty by Sinai Galicia
Light Bulb by Max Pro
Fruit by Sury Chavez
Art Panels by members of the Chelsea Senior Center
Mother Earth by Nelson Saldana
Community Art Panels by Liz LaManche with community members
You are Loved by Alex Cook
For 2020 the works were concentrated between Fourth and Congress Street. Coordinators this year were Amanda Hill and Carolyn Lewenberg.
Onward by Nelson Saldana
Lotus by The Sirens Crew
Coffee Farmers by Kimberly Villafuerte Barzola
Llama Farm by Demetrius Fuller
Walking Stop #4
chelsea square between second street and the fountain
Embedded into the brick sidewalk of the park you'll discover a series of bronze crab sculptures. These were installed as part of the restoration of the park and an investment in public art in the late 1980s.
They can be a little tricky to find in person. Stand on Second Street between the two sections of the Chelsea Square Park and walk towards the fountain. They are just steps off the sidewalk.
Walking Stop #5
Constructed in 1897, the Stebbins Fountain is so named for banker and mayor of Chelsea Isaac Stebbins. He provided $7,000 (about $220,000 in today's dollars) in his will to construct it. It's made of Milford granite.
The general shape of Chelsea Square with two teardrop areas of grass enclosed with curbing date back to the 1860s. Part of a national movement for open-air in the heart of the city, the area was defined as public open space under the administration of Mayor John W. Fletcher. Thirty years later, the Stebbins Fountain was installed in the space between these green areas in what was then a paved, curb-less area used by horse-drawn carriages and wagons, trolleys and pedestrians. The siting was constrained to meet the mandate of Stebbins' will that the fountain "shall be constructed so that both man and beast might drink from it."
Mayor Herman Pratt oversaw the completion of the Chelsea Square project. At the dedication, orator for the event Rev Mr Jefferson said, "A new spirit is abroad now...It is an idea cut in stone that every man owes something to the city in which he lives, and that he ought to leave his mark in the city where he has made his living. Let us give our all to make Chelsea what she ought to be."
During his lifetime, Stebbins was responsible for the construction of nearby buildings known as the Stebbins Blocks. The properties at 210 -216 Winnisimmet were built around 1850 and 218-230 Winnisimmet around 1860.
The 1908 fire destroyed many civic buildings in the City but was stopped just at the edge of Chelsea Square near the intersection of Winnisimmet and Broadway. The historic buildings in Chelsea Square represent the scale of construction in the late 19th century in the city.
Photo by Edwin Barrientos of the Stebbins Fountain in 2018.
Construction in Chelsea Square, perhaps from 1919.
Walking Stop #6
chelsea square near the fountain
chelsea conversation by penelope jencks
In 1976, as part of a downtown revitalization project, two percent of the construction budget was set aside for public art. Penelope Jencks was one of three sculptors commissioned to create works reflecting the character of Chelsea.
Within this trio of life-size sculptures, the older male figure is Roman F. Pucko, a beloved instructor at Chelsea High School, and the young man is local track star Bobby Goss. Both were recognizable people in the city when the artwork was created. The young girl is a portrait of Jencks’ own daughter.
Jenck’s notable sculptures include the statue for the Eleanor Roosevelt Monument located in New York City's Riverside Park, said to be the first monument dedicated to an American president's wife, the statue of historian Samuel Elliott Morrison on Boston's Commonwealth Avenue Mall, and the Robert Frost sculpture at Amherst College. This work received a “Commendation for Design Excellence” from the National Endowment for the Arts.
The statue was dedicated in 1978. Mayor Pressman is on the far left. Sculptor Penelope Jencks is second from right.
Walking Stop #7
second street at Cherry Street
hola mi Gente by yenny Hernandez
Yenny Hernandez is a Graphic Designer who lives in Salem, MA. She often combines colorful palettes inspired by her Caribbean heritage with messages that speak to the Latino community. The mural design for this property is a lush dark jungle with vibrant, large letters proclaiming 'Hola Mi Gente' which translates to “Hello my people.” The artist’s goal is to create a moment of identification, especially for the Spanish-speaking community, and a feeling of being seen and welcomed. The mural is on the Second Street side of Rincon Hondureño restaurant.
Painted in 2020.
Walking Stop #8
cherry street at everett avenue
chelsea right now by demetrius fuller
Demetrius Fuller captured elements of the neighborhood like the Stebbins Fountain and historic architecture in his mural on the corner of Cherry Street. Demetrius is an art instructor with Chelsea Public Schools.
Funding for the mural was provided by the Chelsea Cultural Council.
Walking Stop #9
everett avenue under route one
tobin bridge by caleb neelon
This was the first mural in Chelsea's downtown, created by Caleb Neelon as part of the now defunct cultural event called the Chelsea Art Walk.
Works by the Cambridge based artist can be found all around the world. In the 1990s, Neelon was immersed in the global graffiti scene under the name SONIK and his vivid, homespun, and raw style of mixed media street art was developed in cities from Kathmandu to São Paulo. His writing documents the art, artists, and history of his global community. He has authored or collaborated on over two dozen books, including with Roger Gastman the the 2011 HarperCollins release "The History of American Graffiti."
Walking Stop #10
everett avenue under route one
knowledge seeker by nelson saldana
With a grant award from the Chelsea Cultural Council, Chelsea artist Nelson Saldana created this mural in 2020. The young man, holding "the golden rope of ambition" is engaged in a tug of war with an all-knowing owl struggling to keep the book-of-everything to itself. The young man's hunger and pursuit for wisdom promises to lift him from chaos to a higher place of infinite possibilities.
Saldana is inspired by the grace and rich meaning to be found in Renaissance art and mythology as well as the dynamic color and boldness of contemporary graphic novels and street artists.
Walking Stop #11
chelsea walk pedestrian walk at 422 Broadway
city of dreams by Silvia López Chavez
“City of Dreams,” takes inspiration from the diverse multi-cultural background of Chelsea’s people. The imagery honors Chelsea’s historic and present architecture, celebrating its resilience and capacity to re-build and dream big. It also borrows the bright hues of textile patterns from countries around the world. An abstracted wave of water connects the colorful structures, flowing down like a ‘good stream’ under the buildings, also making reference to “Winnisemet,” the native name for this area prior to being named Chelsea.
This mural was commissioned and produced by GreenRoots, in partnership with the City of Chelsea, through a MassDevelopment grant, and the generous support of businesses, residents, and friends of Chelsea. Completed in 2019 along with new decorated panels overhead.
Silvia López Chavez is a Dominican-American, Chelsea based artist with an impressive resume as a seasoned community-based artist and a frequent collaborator with urban planners, architects, non-profits, developers, and activists. Her public art projects include murals on the Charles River Esplanade in tandem with Now + There Inc., Harvard University, Northeastern University, Punto Urban Art Museum, Barr Foundation, HUBweek, Boston Children’s Museum, Underground InkBlock and the Cambridge Public Library.
Walking Stop #12
luther place on cherry street between Fourth and Fifth Streets
Full Bloom, Para Las Mujeres de Chelsea by rixy fernandez
This wall of 456 Broadway overlooks the Luther Place parking lot and serves as the back drop for the stage at events in this location such as the Chelsea Night Market.
Artist Rixy Fernandez was born in Boston and raised in Las Vegas. She’s inspired by street art and is strongly influenced by muralist Lauren Ys (LOLO). She often explores her Asian-American heritage and the nature of femininity in her designs. Her mural on this site pays homage to the women of Chelsea.
Painted in 2020.
Walking Stop #13
fifth street between broadway and arlington streets
sidewalk carvings by assorted youth artists
A series of stone relief carvings by Chelsea youth are placed within the sidewalk along the southwest side of Fifth Street. These were likely completed as part of the investment in public art in the downtown in the late 1980s.
Walking Stop #13
140 Pearl Street
The Pearl by Silvia López Chavez
At the entrance of their newly constructed mixed-use property on Pearl Street the owners wanted to celebrate the downtown and Chelsea's maritime history. They hired the Chelsea resident to create a work that names the building and layers in a street map with decorative details.