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July 22, 2016

Boston Magazine

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The Street in Chestnut Hill to Unveil New Mural 99.9% Happy

Artist Curtis Kulig will be there Saturday for the public sticker installation.

After this Saturday, Chestnut Hill will share something in common with cities on the world map, including London, Paris, Istanbul, and Tokyo.

Like these metropolises, Chestnut Hill’s shopping center, the Street, will soon have an installation displaying acclaimed artist Curtis Kulig’s Love Me symbol.

The iconic motif is a smiley face with the words “love me” written in script, representing its eyes.

The Street’s marketing coordinator Annie Lagasse says that Kulig’s work was an obvious choice for their first permanent art installation.

“It’s impossible not to love. It’s so happy and colorful. His signature smileys—it’s impossible not to smile back at them,” says Lagasse. “We were drawn to them immediately, and we thought they would be such a great fit with the vibe here—we’re always trying to surprise and delight.”
The installation has three parts. The first is yellow spray-painted smiley faces scattered throughout the property’s sidewalks, made with stencils. The second part will be the mural 99.9% Happy, which was installed on the facade between Intermix and Del Frisco’s Grille Wednesday night. The mural is three stories tall, and is made up of 99 white smiley faces and one red frowning face. The third part of the installation will be created by the community at the unveiling event on Saturday, as shoppers will get to decorate part of the property with different colored Love Me stickers.

“This installation just made so much sense, especially at a time like right now when we need so much more love and happiness. I think this whole message and Love Me movement really speaks to that,” says Lagasse.

Here are some of Kulig’s thoughts on Love Me, 99.9% Happy, and life as an artist.

On 99.9% Happy and the Chestnut Hill Installation

“It’s a 50-by-8-foot installation and it’s all black-and-white happy, happy smiley faces, and there’s one red frowny in the mix. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that you can’t make everyone happy all the time. So there’s the .1 percent that’s the frown, but 99.9 percent happy… The mural aspect is me applying a piece that is more-so thought out, and something that’s coming directly from me. And the sticker aspect would be the public being able to interact with it because I wanted it to be an interactive experience as well. And the stencils on the sidewalk are a bit of a representation to cover all ground (at Chestnut Hill) and radically be sprinkling the Love Mes throughout.”

On the Huge Success of Love Me

“Love Me has grown bigger than I ever could’ve imagined 10 years ago, and at this point it’s not about what it means to me anymore, it’s about what it means to everyone else who interacts with it—if it gives them hope and happiness and love and understanding, that’s the best thing I could ask for. It wasn’t a statement that I was making—it was more a feeling that I was personally having and I put it out there—on a whim.”

On His Life As an Artist

“A lot of my father’s side of the family are traditional oil painters, and it actually kind of pushed me away from art in a weird way. It was this idea of so much control and making these sorts of images that were so real life that I didn’t feel like I had the patience to be making paintings that took that amount of time or that looked that real. So I took a different route, which was photography. I really liked the idea of obsessively documenting things, and people, and situations that are going on, so I went more the photography route for a long time. I’ve been shooting photos for, I don’t know, 15 years or something. And at a point in LA was when I came up with the idea of Love Me, and putting that into the universe a bit more. So I guess with that being said, I was shooting photographs and the Love Me thing organically happened and then I fell into and/or put more effort into the idea of painting and producing work that is a process rather than shooting photos.”

On His Inspiration

“I’ve taken a lot interest in anything from Renaissance to abstract expressionist, then moving into modern work as far as Rothko and de Kooning and that kind of ’80s, early ’90s New York part of circle. Yes, I’m inspired by a lot of artwork, but more so inspired by travels, and my friends, and everyday life, and you know, emotions. A lot of my work plays around emotions and the idea of feeling something from the artwork.”

Kulig’s permanent art installation will debut at the Street’s annual sidewalk sale Saturday. The first 100 shoppers at the event will receive a tote designed by Kulig and green juice from Juice Press.

By Alex Erdekian

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