I’m a fan of trompe l’oeil. I stand by my theory that mandating trompe l’oeil on abandoned buildings would revitalize neighborhoods by paying artists and creating foot traffic in areas otherwise forgotten – all the while adding beauty to buildings and creating distinct, local styles that take advantage of distinct, local problems of abandoned or boarded up buildings. That said, not every trompe l’oeil building need be an abandoned one – simply one that is either storied, has a good face to paint on, or unique approach to its style. Case in point.
Last year I took a trip to Boston, a usual trip for me – I was staying in Cambridgeport. I was recommended to visit the Allston Diner for a post-event morning breakfast. I take my bike with me on trips now so I can get around towns with ease. My approach to the diner was not the obvious one, slightly out of my own way, but again I’m on my bike so all good – and when I was close enough to the diner when it began to drizzle so I made my way there, and had a wonderful breakfast. (I highly recommend the diner btw.)
After food, it was still raining, heavier now – I wasn’t fully kitted for rain but had an umbrella with me so decided to walk for a bit (with my bike) and wait for the rain to pass before continuing on my uncharted path. I decided to go east up Cambridge Street – I saw a footpath north or could cross the bridge proper – I had choices – I always like choices. As I approached the first intersection the light changed in my favor so I dashed across the street and began my way over the bridge, undecided about the footpath or the main bridge – slightly impeded by the rain but nonetheless when I got to the bridge that crosses over I-90 I looked over my shoulder and saw:
I circled back and came back down the bridge to take the above photo – and I had to see more, up close. It was the mural that caught my eye but the trompe l’oeil that really took me by surprise (note the boarded up windows on the first floor of the building on the right, the Allston Hall Block – both storied (PDF, pp15-17) and partially boarded up – oh the irony!).
A good art is one I spend time just sort of gawking at, looking at from multiple angles, and all the while getting stares from pedestrians and drivers alike as I stand still and gaze upon something in deep contemplative thought – while they just go about their business unaware of the beauty around them.
I spent a good 10-15 minutes with Windows On Allston. And if you’re anywhere near the intersection of Harvard Ave/Franklin St and Cambridge St in Allston you should stop by and see it – and get a meal at the nearby diner while you’re there!
(See high-res photos of the trompe l’oeil paintings here on my Flickr.)