I met one of the icons of Boston yesterday, Sidewalk Sam. He was part of an arts in the park festival at Titus Sparrow Park. I first became aware of Sidewalk Sam in the early 80's when he was doing his chalk pictures on the sidewalks of the Boston Common and downtown Boston. He would do fantastic renditions of famous painters such as Renoir and others. They were a wonderful surpise as you were walking around the city, and yet another thing that made Boston the unique and wonderful place it is.
I recently had noticed one of his works on Massachusetts Ave. near the Symphony. It was done with paint so was not nearly so temporal. It was a mural of ocean creatures and has a banner of New England Aquarium. It also has a tag line of "Thomas Menino, Mayor Boston".
I had pointed it out to my fiance as another example of how the Mayor needs to have his name, and control over everything in Boston. Very similar to the cult of personalities such as Stalin, Mao, etc. who erected monuments to themselves using the people's money.
So, with a bit of trepidation and a bit of tongue in cheek I asked him "how did you go from being this great example of bringing art and culture to the people, not just art for the elite, to selling out to the Man?"
He laughed and said the mayor had summoned him into his office and told him that he was defacing public property and that if he wanted to continue he would have to do it in conjunction with them. So, they got him some proper sidewalk paint from DPW and now they approve the drawings he does.
This really broke the ice and we ended up having a long conversation and really connecting. We talked about what a waste of money it is to put the mayor's name on the blue oval signs around the city when they don't fund the arts, and how none of the city concilors speak out about this waste of money. We talked about how society is becoming more stratified between the rich and the poor, and how change is clearly not going to come from the top but how it needs to come from the people.
I invited him to my house for the open house on the 26th, and we would be honored to have this gentleman here, who is so kind and loving to all the kids and families that were there, so encouraging of people's talent and potential. What a shame that the political machine is putting a bit of a muzzle on this shining example of Boston's greatness.
Please check out his website at www.sidewalksam.com and help him any way you can bring people together and express your artist inside!