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Os Gêmeos

It was a year of bracing histories — '60s assassinations, '80s pandemics, and four decades of hubris in Iraq. But 2012's best art wasn't all bad news. Brandeis University revived its Rose Art Museum. And a sunny new mural became a beacon in the heart of the city — and a benchmark for what art in Boston can achieve.

OS GÊMEOS :: Was the technicolor giant that the Brazilian street-art twins Os Gêmeos painted at Dewey Square last summer just your friendly neighborhood graffiti kid or, as Fox friends suggested, a terrorist? A little from column A and a little from column B. The cheekily ambiguous mural flooded the site of the 2011 Occupy encampment with sunny delight. It's the best large-scale public art in Boston in decades. It has permission to be there for a year and a half. Email the mayor (mayor@cityofboston.gov) and demand it live forever.

"KENNEDY TO KENT STATE":: This photo show at the Worcester Art Museum (through February 3) is a riveting blow-by-blow account of how utopian 1960s dreams came undone between the assassination of John F. Kennedy and the resignation of Richard Nixon.

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Ori Gersht, Pomegranate

ORI GERSHT :: Israeli artist Gersht's striking videos of exploding old-master still lifes in "History Repeating" at the Museum of Fine Arts (through January 6) reverberate with the post-traumatic stress of the Holocaust and Israel's subsequent wars.

"OH, CANADA":: Curator Denise Markonish spent three years crisscrossing Canada to reveal a whole nation (incredibly) off the American art world's radar, except for the occasional Vancouver photographer. "Oh, Canada" at MASS MoCA (through April 1) shows what we're missing: visionary spectacles like Shary Boyle's naked spider-woman disappearing into a midnight web.

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