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ICA’s Free Thursday Nights: view work of graffitist Barry McGee


Some people see graffiti as defacement of public property; others consider it an important form of artistic expression. If you’re among the latter group, then the Institute of Contemporary Art (ICA) has a special treat for you.

The work of Barry McGee, the noted San Francisco graffitist, will be on display at the ICA’s West Gallery through September 2. McGee, who frequently uses the tag name Twist, began to make a name for himself in the late 1980s and was a member of the Mission School of San Francisco in the ’90s. His work, often political in nature, addresses such social issues as the financial crisis, consumer consumption, and unemployment. The ICA exhibition is McGee’s first mid-career survey and features 30 installations, paintings, drawings, and photographs from the past two decades. One West Gallery room displays the work of fellow graffiti artists based in Boston, such as Ryan Murphy, Josh Brenner, and Jesse Littlefield.

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This is the first mid-career survey of McGee’s work, featuring 30 installations, paintings, drawings, and photographs from the past two decades.

Another great reason to check out McGee’s work tonight: the ICA’s Free Thursday Nights program offers free admission for visitors arriving after 5 p.m.

Take full advantage and visit all of the ICA galleries. Swing by the Fotene Demoulas Gallery to view the work of Katarina Burin, winner of the ICA’s 2013 James and Audrey Foster Prize, and that of finalists Sarah Bapst, Mark Cooper, and Luther Price. Visit the Paul and Catherine Buttenwieser Gallery to see Jeffrey Gibson’s paintings and sculptures, which are inspired by his Native American heritage. Pass by the Sandra and Gerald Fineberg Art Wall to view South Korean–born artist Haegue Yang and graphic designer Manuel Raeder’s installation Multiple Mourning Room: Mirrored. And wrap up your visit at the Kim and Jim Pallotta Gallery for the ICA Collection: Expanding the Field of Painting, which examines how the practice of painting has changed since the 1970s.

Admission to the ICA is free tonight, and every Thursday night, from 5 to 9 p.m. Find more information here. To get to the ICA by public transportation, take the MBTA Red Line to South Station and transfer to the Silver Line Waterfront bus. The ICA is a short walk from either the World Trade Center or Courthouse stations.

Leslie Friday, BU Today, Boston University
Leslie Friday

Follow Leslie Friday on Twitter at @lesliefriday.

One Comment on Tagging, Pre-Facebook

  • LarryO on 06.14.2013 at 9:21 am

    In the real world, over 99.9% of graffiti is not art, it is 100% pure defacement of public and private property. There is no ‘art’ involved, just the tagger’s ego in seeing their tag in 1 million different places. It lowers property values and makes the areas where it is done look like slums where there is no civic pride. The ‘artists’ should be prosecuted and the punishment should involve removing graffiti, even if they have to use toothpicks to get every last bit of paint off.

    On the other hand, there certainly is some artistic talent out there, but they should only ‘tag’ where they have permission from the property owner, no exceptions! And, no you do not ‘own’ public property, so unless city hall allows you to paint something, it is off limits. If you made graffiti a ballot question, the people opposed to it would win by a major landslide.

    Here is a great example of wall mural done on a new pet store in North Weymouth.
    This was a paid job done with the store owner’s permission. This is an all-to-rare exception to the graffiti is vandalism rule. Another great example of art in public spaces is Sidewalk Sam and other sidewalk chalk artists. Great work, but temporary, so no permanent damage to public property.

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