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ICA Boston dishes on new Dewey Square mural

By mid-September, the colorful and at times controversial Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square will be replaced by an abstract, black, white and gray painting that draws inspiration from Boston's history and waterfront.

Matthew Ritchie sits in front of a preliminary mock up of "Remanence: Salt and Light," which will be created in Dewey Square next month. Photo by Jennifer Taylor. Matthew Ritchie sits in front of a preliminary mock up of "Remanence: Salt and Light," which will be created in Dewey Square next month. Credit: Jennifer Taylor

By mid-September, the colorful and at times controversial Os Gemeos mural in Dewey Square will be replaced by an abstract, black, white and gray painting that draws inspiration from Boston's history and waterfront.

British-born artist Matthew Ritchie's mural, tentatively titled "Remanence: Salt and Light,” will be the second public art partnership between the ICA and the Greenway, following the Os Gemeos mural in 2012.

"We’ll have something new for the public to love, or hate, or talk about," Curator Jenelle Porter said Wednesday. "That’s the wonderful thing about public art – it creates conversation."

The bottom of the Dewey Square mural will resemble a seascape, from which dark, erratic lines will connect to objects that appear to be floating atoms or globes.

Ritchie bases much of his work off of scientific principles, said Porter, who described "Remanence" as a bit of a diagram.

"The drawing very much keeps with the rest of his work," she said. "Matthew had seen the (current) mural many times and has visited Boston many times since 1982. He's been fascinated by all (the city's) changes."

Starting the week of Sept. 16, ten professional sign painters will be lifted to hand paint the 70-square-foot surface with the help of a giant projection. The work will be done at night.

The painters, whom Porter called "wall dogs," are a rare breed.

"There are not many left in world that do hand sign paintings," she said.

The public artwork will remain there for at least a year, but no longer than 18 months, Porter said.

"Public art is a wonderful way to support art and artists," she said. "I’m sad to see (The Os Gemeos mural) go, but the great thing about this is that it's not permanent. I think people will love it."

Follow Morgan Rousseau on Twitter: @MetroMorgan
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