Write on a Wall!

by Wendy Artin

Wendy Artin, cropped watercolors of urban walls, 2017

Wendy Artin, cropped details from watercolors of urban walls, 2017



Calling all poets, poetic writers, plain old writers and young ones too!
Let your creativity contribute to a cure for lung cancer!

Please try your hand at a contemporary EKPHRASIS… 

Use these urban watercolors as prompts:  Remember the exercise where you open any book, and without looking put a finger down on a random word, take that word and another found in the same way, and write a story, a poem, a flight of fancy?  Could you do this with these urban wall paintings?

The out-of-context images on the walls in these watercolors are like travelers in a city, each one with its hidden purpose, meaning and past.  They are full of messages, intended or not. This is an invitation to choose one painting and let the images send your imagination flying.  Take a look at all of the walls on the Gurari Collections website  (be patient – the images take a minute to load).

10 of the best pieces (not too long!) will be read live at the charitable evening of Art, Music, Writing and Wine, on Saturday November 4th, 2017 from 6:00 to 9:00, in Boston’s new artistic SoWa neighborhood of the South End, at the Gurari Collections gallery. Send your writing to me, wendyartin@gmail.com. During the evening, an original watercolor will be sold in a Silent Auction benefitting Lung Cancer research.

Come to the Opening Reception of the exhibition
Athens, Rome, Paris, London, New York

on First Friday, November 3rd, 2017, from 6 – 9:00 p.m.

Then join us again for the evening of
Art, Music, Writing and Wine Benefit – HERE TODAY
on Saturday, November 4th, 2017, from 6 – 9:00 p.m.

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Here is an inspiring example of ekphrastic writing about this painting,
with the single gorgon-like eyes…

Wendy Artin, NYC, big Tattered wall, watercolor, 26"x41", 2017

Wendy Artin, NYC, big Tattered wall, watercolor, 26″x41″, 2017

(MEDUSA, by Susanna Mattiangeli, was superbly read aloud by Justin Broackes at the “Write on a Wall” charity evening, November 4th, 2017 at Gurari Collections. You can see the painting up close and hear the prose on YouTube by clicking here on MEDUSA)


Wait a minute. Just one more minute. 

She had come from who knows where, and, as so often happens, ended up here. Not even she knew if this was where she was supposed to be. She had arrived such a long time ago, and here she had stayed, waiting, staring straight ahead, returning the gaze of those who stopped to look at her. She must be beautiful, she thought, although no, she could not say that with certainty. But she was the most beautiful in her family, she had heard this said many times.  She must have something more than her sisters, with their icy eyes. She felt she was waiting for something: perhaps fame, some grand destiny, for her image to be spread across the world. There would be time for travel, but for now she must stay here, do her duty and keep watch on this place without distraction, without paying attention to that forest of statues contemplating her. What did they think they were doing? Did they think they could possess her? Take her away with them? Or merely look and then walk away, as if nothing had changed? And so, still and safe, she let them look at her, take all the time her beauty deserved.

Then, as so often happens, at some point, someone came from who knows where. At first he seemed to be going somewhere else, but no, he brushed past the other statues and headed straight at her, as if he knew the way, as if this was exactly where he had to be. The minute she saw him, she began to ask, who are you? She willed him to turn his head. Please look at me. Please let me see you, just for a moment, Medusa said.  Why don’t you see me? 

But Perseus did see her. He held his double in his hand and watched her from there, with the shifty eyes of the thief.

Medusa understood. She was prepared. But she needed a minute, just one more minute. You know how it is at times like this.

Perseus, in that special way of those who look for hidden treasures in the rubble, thrust his arm back and grabbed her blindly, tearing her from the Chelsea wall.  He flew away with her on the winged horse, and Medusa’s gaze settled on New York. No one noticed them up there.  There was so much to see.

Susanna Mattiangeli
Rome 2017


Wendy Artin, Crop from NYC, big Tattered wall, watercolor 26"x41", 2017

Wendy Artin, Crop from NYC, big Tattered wall, watercolor 26″x41″, 2017


(original Italian text)


Un minuto, un momento ancora.

Era partita da chissà dove e, come spesso succede, era andata a finire lì.
Che fosse davvero lì che doveva fermarsi, questo non lo sapeva più neanche lei.

Era passato molto tempo da quando era arrivata e lei era stata al suo posto, in attesa, guardando davanti a sé e ricambiando gli sguardi che si fermavano di fronte a lei. Doveva essere bellissima, pensava, anche se no, non poteva dirlo con certezza. Ma era la più bella della famiglia, questo lo aveva sentito dire molte volte. Doveva avere qualcosa di più delle sue sorelle dallo sguardo freddo. Sentiva di doversi aspettare qualcosa, un grande destino forse, la fama, la sua immagine diffusa per il mondo. Ci sarebbe stato tempo per i viaggi, ora però doveva restare, fare il suo dovere e sorvegliare quel luogo senza distrarsi, senza far caso a quella foresta di statue ferme di fronte a lei a contemplarla. Cosa credevano di fare? Averla forse? Prenderla e portarsela via? O guardare e passare oltre, andare avanti come se fosse tutto come prima? E così lei si lasciava osservare, per tutto il tempo che si meritava, senza pericolo, senza che nulla si muovesse.

Poi, come spesso succede, in un momento qualunque arrivò qualcuno partito da chissà quale posto. Avvicinandosi sembrava puntare altrove e invece, scansando le altre statue, andava dritto davanti a lei come se sapesse la strada: era proprio lì che doveva andare sembrava. Lei lo vide da lontano e cominciò a chiedere chi sei, a pregare quella nuca di girarsi. Per piacere guardami. Ti prego fatti vedere da me, solo un momento, diceva. Un momento solo, guardami, diceva Medusa. Sono qui, perché non mi vedi?

Perseo invece la vedeva, aveva il suo doppio in mano e la osservava da lì, con lo sguardo mobile del ladro.

Medusa capì. Era pronta, forse, ma chiedeva un minuto ancora, un attimo. Si sa com’è in questi momenti.

Perseo, in quel modo speciale di chi cerca punti nascosti nei rovesci, agitò il braccio all’indietro, l’afferrò alla cieca e la strappò dal muro di Chelsea. Perseo scappò con lei sul cavallo alato e lo sguardo di Medusa si posò su New York. Da lassù, nessuno si accorgeva di loro. C’era così tanto da guardare.

Susanna Mattiangeli
Roma, 2017

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The proceeds from the winning bid for the original watercolor painting have been donated to Lung Cancer Research under Dr. Alice Shaw, at Massachusetts General Hospital, in memory of my late husband Bruno Boschin.  A brilliant doctor and researcher, Dr. Shaw also stands out for her unusual kindness, generosity of knowledge, and compassion.


Opening Reception: Friday, November 3rd, 2017, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Evening of Art, Music, Writing and Wine: Saturday, November 4th, 2017, from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.

Exhibition:  November 3rd – December 10th, 2017

Gallery hours:  Tuesday – Saturday, 11:00 to 6:00, Sundays 12:00 to 4:00 or by appointment, closed Mondays.


Gurari Collections, 460 Harrison Avenue, in the South End of Boston

Telephone: +1.617.367.9800 – email: guraricollections@gmail.com


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Here is an ekphrastic poem


Wendy Artin, Athens Madonna, 10"x14", 2017

Wendy Artin, Athens Madonna, 10″x14″, 2017


Restless beauty

Hold strong

Your foolish wall

Of endless peace

Pierfrancesco Della Porta

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And another ekphrastic text


It had been dark for quite a few hours, but they still could hear the shouts and drunken songs moving away from them. Even in small streets, New York is the city that never sleeps. From a window across the way, they could see a bright alarm clock strike one AM. Then two. Then three.

“Well, that went well” — “Yes, for you. I got torn again”
“At least it wasn’t as much as last time” — “Shut up, you’ve never been torn”
“Yeah, because you’re covering half of us” — “Listen – I didn’t have any say in my pla-”
She was cut off by the roar of a motorcycle engine in the distance.
“Do you think it’s coming here?” Said the second voice, suddenly hushed.
“Be quiet and get into position” replied a third.

The first voice coughed. There was a general shushing and a moment of buzzing that sounded like a hummingbird’s wings.

The engine was getting closer, as a light appeared at the corner of the block. The vehicle turned onto the little street and stopped. As a dark figure got off, they could hear the sounds of spray paint cans rattling around. It had been a few weeks since the last addition. The rider removed the helmet and put down a bag. They all knew this would take a while, and yet it was hard to hold still. The figure did not take the spray paint out. Instead, a big piece of paper that had been folded up was removed from the bag’s pocket, along with a jar of white liquid and a paintbrush. The rider started to brush some of the liquid onto the wall, then unfolded the piece of paper, stuck it to where the glue was, then brushed over it. The biker stepped away, to admire the work, then move to examine the rest of the wall. John Lennon and Yoko-Ono, half covered by a girl eating a lollipop. Below them, a round Canadian logo of some sort with a hummingbird sticker stuck onto it. Next to the hummingbird, a fascist symbol had been drawn over the last two letters of the word “Canada”. Looking angry, the rider reached for the peeling edge of the paper and tore off the part where the symbol was, leaving the hummingbird next to an upside down V shape. A drawn face peeked out where somebody else had torn the paper with the Canadian logo. On the other side of the corner, above the paper that was now drying, there was a cartoon of a young looking child with a shirt that said rebel, covering a stylized Rosie the Riveter. The rider stood back and looked at the ensemble once more. Satisfied, the helmet came back on and the bag went back over the shoulder, as the figure hopped back on the bike and drove away, the roaring of the engine slowly fading.

“Oh my gosh. Poor hummingbird” said the girl with the lollipop “he almost got torn” — “What is it?” Asked John Lennon, moving out of his poster and closer to the wet paper. “Careful,” said Rosie the Riveter “it’s still wet. You don’t want to get wet, do you?” — “Well then, you’re closer. Tell us what it is”

“Yes, PLEASE,” said the girl with the lollipop, jumping up and down in her poster “is it a person?” — “It has boxing gloves, so I think so,” said the Little Rebel, straining her eyes to look down “but it got me wet, I’m stuck” — “I wonder how long it’ll take to dry,” said Yoko-Ono “It’s no use, John”, she added, as he tried to get closer. “At least he got rid of that horrible symbol, I don’t know how the hummingbird looks at it all day”.

The hummingbird flew up to where the Lollipop Girl was, to sit down on her shoulder trying to stop the fidgeting, and John went back to his spot next to Yoko. An unfamiliar yawn made them all jump.

“Where am I?” said the same voice. “The new guy’s dry!” Exclaimed the face peeking out from the sign. “Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god!” Said the lollipop girl, resuming to jump up and down as the hummingbird flew off her shoulder. “Who are you?”

“I don’t know, I just got here” — “Oh, right. Well, you’ll find out as soon as tourists get excited about who you are and shout ‘Hey, this dude’s on the wall. Come take a picture of me with him’”. — “Okay,” said the new guy. Who are you?”

“Oh, I’m not a famous person. I just eat a lollipop”

“Okay. What about the rest of you?” The alarm clock beeped. 6 AM. “Everybody – back into your positions”. Everyone froze, even the new guy understood. A couple of fast-moving New Yorkers walked by, not even noticing the wall. The woman whose alarm clock had gone off stepped out of her building in running clothes, her between her shoulder and her cheek.

“Oh look!” she said to the phone while passing them “they added Muhammad Ali to the wall across from my house!”

Lily Boschin


Wendy Artin, NYC, Muhammed John & Yoko, 26"x41", 2017

Wendy Artin, NYC, Muhammed John & Yoko, 26″x41″, 2017

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Shall we imbibe in such folly?
This canister of hearts,
a vessel of hope,
said proxy of lust,
…oft bearer of tears.
Gifted to a sea of denizens,
upon a single city street.

Paul Pillitteri
San Francisco 2017


Wendy Artin, cropped detail from NYC, Life Drawing Wall, watercolor 16"x23", 2017

Wendy Artin, cropped detail from NYC, Life Drawing Wall, 16″x23″, 2017


Look, Mama!
The posters move
When the walls breathe.

Lyn Searles
Jamaica Plain 2017

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Haiku per Amy

Porta di cielo
Risplende di battiti il tatuaggio indelebile nero

Alessandra Batassa
Rome 2017

Wendy Artin, London Blue Amy, 9”x12”, 2017

Wendy Artin, London Blue Amy, 9”x12”, 2017

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a wall is a wall but a wall

wendy art’in as a password

Benoît Gréan

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Paper, Pigments, Pulsing urban fragments
It’s a BAZAAR where the walls move
And you move from city to city,
Street to street.
There’s magic in the air here.

Judith Levine

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