A Toast to Sidwalk Sam

12 Nov

For those of us who reside in the Greater Boston area, there is nothing more relaxing than taking a day in the city and visiting some of the many art galleries located along Newbury Street, or over in the South End or Back Bay. Of course, one could grab the T and go up Huntington Ave. to the famous Museum of Fine Arts and spend the better part of an afternoon viewing the many works of the Masters, a trip worth taking.

Unfortunately, we get caught up in the day-to-day living, rushing from one place to another, instead of setting aside some time to do the things we’ve always wanted to do, and another great idea is set aside for yet another day. And on it goes. But consider if the works of the Masters were brought to you, and laid at your feet, so you could spend just a few moments from a busy schedule to study such beautiful pieces of art. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or just have been so busy texting your friends with mindless banter, you’ve most likely missed the recreations of hundreds of masterpieces that appear on our city’s sidewalks.

Since 1973, a Boston artist that goes by the unique handle of “Sidewalk Sam,” has been carrying around his boxes of colored chalks and paints, looking for a spot where thousands of people pass by each day. Any sidewalk around Boston or Cambridge is Sam’s canvas. After spending hours working on one of his reproductions of some of the famous European masterpieces, “voila,” it’s “Miller Time” for Sam and he can sit back and observe the masses admiring his absolutely beautiful work. A visual of Sam kneeling on the sidewalk while creating one of his spectacular renderings, with a few on-lookers leaning over his shoulder to get a better view, would be well worth a Life Magazine cover drawing, created by another fellow icon, Norman Rockwell.

It’s well known that Superman’s real name is Clark Kent, but few know that our super-hero, Sidewalk Sam, is also the real Robert Guillemin. Robert is also a mild-mannered gentleman who enjoys meeting people and talking about traditions, history, and life. He has long been a promoter for the arts, organizing open-air exhibits and art festivals, and encouraging both children and adults to participate in the creation of murals and mosaics. He studied at the Museum School of Fine Arts and graduated from Boston University in 1962, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts (BFA). Sam traveled to Paris and attended the Ecole des Beaux-Arts and the Academie de Grande Chaumiere. He returned to Boston University in 1964, Robert Guillemin received his Master’s degree in painting. He has participated in numerous solo and group exhibitions.

In 1994, while tending to some work on the roof of his home, Robert fell 30 feet to the ground and is now paralyzed. Not one to dwell on life’s untimely blows, Sidewalk Sam returned to his street painting with a little help from his friends, and continues to bring his enthusiasm for presenting his art to the public. He can be found on any street corner across Boston, bringing people together as they admire his work and become closer to the arts and in harmony with each other. Now in a wheelchair, Robert continues his efforts to organize participatory art events in Boston and also on an international level. In 1984, Sidewalk Sam was awarded the distinct title of “Official Screever of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.”

We are pleased to announce that Sidewalk Sam will be creating one of his murals in front of the Rattlesnake Bar & Grill, in honor of our Holiday Party to benefit the Globe Santa Fund. We appreciate Sam’s enthusiasm and his friendship and know that his spirited love for the arts will carry over through this special evening and for days and years to come.


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