[Flashback] “Flush with the Walls” MFA art stunt turns 40

In 1971, Boston After Dark (the alt-weekly that would eventually become the Boston Phoenix) investigated a particularly whimsical outburst of art activism: Way before the days of Banksy, six rogue Boston artists invaded the MFA's men's room, transforming it into a makeshift gallery. They smuggled in their own work -- via the "Is that a painting in your pants or are you just happy to see me?" method -- and converted the lavatory walls into "the only place in the Museum that exhibits contemporary local art."

Last week, in honor of the 40th anniversary of "Flush with the Walls," Phoenix art critic Greg Cook staged his own guerrilla gallery stunt to commemorate the milestone, and to raise awareness of Boston's own neglected art scene. This time, Cook assembled a crack team of 21 local artists to pull off this caper. Did they succeed? You can read all about Cook's adventure here.

As for the original "Flush" show: In her 1971 piece, reporter Alicia Faxon wrote that "the attendance for the show was fantastic. At one time there were so many notables packed in it was impossible to see the art." Faxon added, "The irony of the situation was evident when one artist turned to another and said, ‘Congratulations on your first museum show.' " Not long after this mischievous masquerade, the MFA hired their first contemporary art curator.

For this special occasion, we dug deep into our archives and plucked out the original article. Relive a little piece of Boston art history for yourself:

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