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Viewfinder: Aladdin Auto Service, an art gallery and repair shop

Mahmood Rezaei-Kamalabad, with some of his artwork, and the pipe he wants to be buried in, outside Aladdin Auto Service in Cambridge.
Photos by Michele McDonald.
Mahmood Rezaei-Kamalabad, with some of his artwork and the pipe he wants to be buried in, outside Aladdin Auto Service in Cambridge.

Artist, philosopher, dreamer, and auto repairman, Mahmood Rezaei-Kamalabad is also a genuinely happy guy. If he’s not speaking to a philosophy class at the University of Massachusetts Boston, visiting an art show, or driving a taxi, you are likely to find him at Aladdin Auto, his art gallery and auto repair shop behind the Apple Cinemas in Cambridge. Visitors seeking auto repairs or spiritual advice are likely to be served tea and fruit or whatever small gifts his fans have brought him.

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A customer's car parked in front of one of Mahmood's sculptures.
A customer's car parked in front of one of Mahmood’s sculptures .

Mahmood’s artwork includes giant steel sculptures with iconography from many religions, with a theme of unity. The huge pipe outside is an unfinished piece. He went to a construction site to ask for a piece of the pipe because, he told the workers, he wants to be buried in it, standing up, with his tools around his feet, ready to do God’s work when asked. They laughed. Weeks later, they showed up with the pipe — and were most likely served tea.

Detail of carved bird on a Mahmood sculpture.
Mahmood demonstrates how he used a pistachio shell to whistle when he was a child. He was sitting at a table in the gallery section of his auto shop.
Mahmood demonstrated how he used a pistachio shell to whistle when he was a child. He was sitting at a table in the gallery section of his auto shop.
On the wall opposite Aladdin Auto Service stand steel sculptures infused with a variety of religious icons and symbols. Mahmood believes in unity.
On the wall opposite Aladdin Auto Service stand steel sculptures infused with a variety of religious icons and symbols. Mahmood believes in unity.
Mahmood’s revolving belt buckle.
Mahmood’s handmade revolving belt buckle.
Customers Bob Smith, Jenny Kenty, and George Kenty shared cups of tea, pistachios, and fruit while waiting for their cars.
Customers Bob Smith, Jenny Kenty, and George Kenty shared cups of tea, pistachios, and fruit while waiting for their cars.