Graffiti: Make room for more Bartlett Yards

Globe Staff Photo

For the next few months, Boston will be home to what may be the best — or at least the largest — cockroach in art history. Painted on the side of an abandoned bus garage in Roxbury, the gargantuan insect forms the centerpiece of a huge set of murals that now cover Bartlett Yard, an 8.6-acre vacant lot near Dudley Square that was a weed-strewn eyesore until graffiti artists received permission to blanket it in paintings this year.

The colorful murals — of Rosa Parks, an Orange Line train, and a variety of PG-13 images — won’t tickle everyone’s fancy. Still, they’re a huge visual improvement over the derelict old bus yard, and a testament to the energy and creativity in the city’s artistic community.


It’s a pity, then, that the volunteers couldn’t do more. Getting permission to paint the site was so comically onerous that it became a kind of symbol of the city’s bewildering permitting process. Plans for a signature mural to commemorate the Boston Marathon bombing victims were thwarted by demands that organizers pay $32 an hour for police details.

Always conceived as a temporary exhibit, the site is due to be bulldozed in November to make way for a planned housing development. It opened to the public for the last time on Sunday. Organizers, though, hope to bring the same jolt of color to other parts of the city. Hopefully, the next time eager volunteers want to turn an abandoned spot into public art, City Hall will be an ally.

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