Government Center murals commuting to new homes – Metro US

Government Center murals commuting to new homes

Big rectangular windows to 1970s Boston, the murals hung for decades in Government Center, slowly collecting grime and cementing their place in the minds of Hub commuters as iconic pieces of public art.

Now, they’re off to new homes, to grace the walls of T enthusiasts’ living rooms and offices with one-of-a-kind public transit showpieces.

In all, 14 buyers paid $65,300 at auction for the 19 paintings, officials said. The work of Mary Beams, an artist who now lives in Minnesota, the 4-foot-by-8-foot plywood works had been salvaged from the central MBTA station during renovations.

The priciest, one of a Green Line train called “Green Line Train,” fetched $10,455. Officials said proceeds from the sales, minus a cut for the auctioneer, would pay for a tribute to the old murals on flame-resistant porcelain enamel, with the rest supporting future art projects in T stations.

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On Wednesday, Amy Kruglak was among the first to pick her purchase up at the Skinner Auctioneers’ Park Plaza office, loading a three-pack of paintings — of an empty train, a bespectacled conductor and a man reading a newspaper — into a pickup bound for her office in Newton.

Kruglak said her company, a health care software business called Curaspan, is going all-out on a Boston theme for its office near the Riverside T stop.

When a renovation in the building is done, she said the paintings would be the centerpieces of a kitchen and meeting area, which they plan to call “the Hub,” surrounded by artwork of Boston landmarks and by conference rooms named after MBTA stations.

“The timing of the artwork being available is really perfect,” Kruglak said. “It felt like it was a good piece of the puzzle.”

They also called up old memories, she said, of her first job in the big city and the six years she spent passing through Government Center.

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“When I told my roommate about this, she said, ‘Do you know how many years we stood on that subway platform staring at those murals?’”

She wasn’t the only one excited to own a piece of Boston history. Anne Talon of Cambridge told Metro she and her husband Paul Longergan liked the paintings so much they bought one each: one for a cozy spot in their home near a fireplace, another for Lonergan’s office in the Seaport.

“I remember when people looked that way and the styles of the clothes,” said Talon, 50. “Of course, my kids don’t.”

Another soon-to-be mural owner was Jason McCann, who works in the Harvard Law School’s career services office and holds an urban planning degree. When he and his husband Chad Wolfe, a lawyer, heard about the auction, McCann said, they knew right away they had to have one.

“We thought it was a good intersection of our interests. Chad likes to purchase original art and I like trains,” McCann said.

RELATED: MBTA to artists: leave your mark on new stations

Transit collectibles have become a mini-obsession for McCann, who said he frequents the T’s gift shop at Ward Maps in Cambridge and frequently gives MBTA maps and T-shirts as Christmas gifts. Last year, he bought an old tin MBTA “under construction” sign, which he gleefully moves around the house to wherever renovations are underway: the porch, the bathroom. They plan to hang their newly won panel on or near a stairwell in their house in Hull.

Like many, Sylvia Richards, a New Hampshire architect, told Metro she fell in love with the paintings as a young commuter taking in the simple portraits frozen in time.

“All of the paintings are charmingly unpretentious,” said Richards, now the proud owner of a painting of a Green Line train.

Richards, who studied at Welleseley College and MIT, said she hasn’t found a spot to display her new purchase yet, though.

“It is really quite big,” she said. “And it will depend on how much it smells like the T.”

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