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Heat Emergency in Boston
Mayor Wu announced a heat emergency in the City of Boston through Wednesday, July 17. Cooling centers will be open at 14 BCYF community centers Monday through Wednesday, from 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.

87 Newly Painted Utility Boxes Make Boston Neighborhoods More Vibrant

The City of Boston commissioned 87 local artists to paint City-owned utility boxes with their original designs as part of the City of Boston’s PaintBox program.

Since its inception in 2008, PaintBox has drawn the attention of residents, business owners, and tourists. Every summer and fall, many are pleasantly surprised to see these bright new artworks pop up on their street corners. 

PaintBox by Yuko Okabe, 711 Washington Street in Chinatown
PaintBox by Yuko Okabe, 711 Washington Street in Chinatown

The program is open to artists who are at least 18 years old, and who live or work in Boston. We specifically look to commission emerging artists, and this year placed a specific focus on artists who were new to the program. The goal is for these artists to gain experience creating public art, and to elevate their art in the communities they live and work in.

"I found out about [PaintBox] on the City of Boston's website,” said artist Halle Cooper. “I was looking at different art opportunities they had and it was a really great one because it was a smaller scale and I don't have a ton of professional experience with art, so it was an exciting project for me.”

Out of the 177 artists who applied for the PaintBox program this year, 94% did not participate in the program the year prior, and 56% identified as BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) individuals. We received applications from individuals representing 17 different neighborhoods in the city.

Andres Duarte PaintBox
PaintBox by Andres Duarte, Belgrade Ave. & McCraw St. in Roslindale

This year’s designs also varied immensely–from portraits of dogs, to abstract geometric designs, to imagery that reflected the history and cultures of specific Boston neighborhoods.

PaintBox by Amanda Garcia
PaintBox by Amanda Garcia, Washington St. and Melnea Cass in Roxbury

PaintBox artist Michael Talbot painted his design on a utility box at the intersection of Brock St, Lake St, and Washington St in Brighton. It features a nighttime landscape with a swirling blue and green sky and the silhouette of a young man reaching up toward a glowing yellow moon. 

“In the art that I make, especially with these boxes, I want people to be able to put themselves in that position and kind of escape to this world that’s depicted,” Talbot said. “I've been getting a lot more into public art and I do enjoy doing live art, so interacting with people who are passing by, hearing the comments, being able to connect with people, the residents, I find that really interesting."

Have you seen any of the new boxes in your neighborhood, or on your way to work? Take a look at the map below to see which ones are near you, and plan a walking tour in your neighborhood!

Alexander Golob PaintBox
PaintBox by Alexander Golob, 939 Commonwealth Ave in Allston
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Map of 2022 PaintBoxes

Meet the PaintBox Artist
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