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Artist Feature: 2023 PaintBox Artists

Last summer, the City of Boston commissioned 44 local artists to paint City-owned utility boxes across 15 neighborhoods as part of the City of Boston’s PaintBox program.

Since 2008, the PaintBox program has beautified Boston’s streets by selecting artists to create new public art on utility boxes found across the city. This program introduces residents to the artists that live among them and acts as a stepping stone for artists who are looking to break into the world of public art.

In 2023, 44 new PaintBoxes were created by local artists – have you spotted all of the ones in your neighborhood yet?

Painted utility box with design of a pool and diving boards
"The Public Pool" by Katherine DePasquale, Roxbury

There was a wide variety of designs and inspirations for last year’s PaintBoxes – including a friendly robot, a skateboarding racoon, and a public pool. Learn more about the 2023 artists, their designs, and their experiences participating in the PaintBox program:

What was the inspiration behind your PaintBox design?

"Everyone and everything has a unique story, if you're willing to look closer. This idea is what inspired "Machines At Work", where thick-paneled glass shows the previously unseen workings of a Massachusetts electric box. Inside the metal box, we can now watch as a diligent mechanical artisan goes about maintaining and distributing electricity throughout its own, assigned corner of Allston/Brighton. The goal was to take a mundane, overlooked object in our lives and turn it into a vehicle for storytelling. Pushing viewers to ask, 'Is that really how electric boxes work?' and, 'What other interesting things have I been ignoring in my own neighborhood?'. In short, 'Machines at Work' is an attempt to reincorporate tiny bits of wonder into our daily lives, and make our city a more imaginative place to live in." - Marcel Mensah

Painted utility box with a robot waving through a window
"Machines at Work" by Marcel Mensah, Allston
Do you have a special connection to the neighborhood that your box is located in?

"This site not only spoke to me, but it brought up a lot of emotions as I saw myself in the people of that neighborhood. I remember every afternoon the students from the Margaret Muñiz Academy would walk by. The Muñiz Academy is the district’s first dual language high school, which offers Boston’s bilingual students a holistic education model to acquire the English Language. As a native Spanish speaker, I can identify with and appreciate the ethos of this school. I understand firsthand the importance of cultivating a safe space for young people to acquire the English language and was able to relate to these students on a deeper level.  While I painted the kids that would pass by after school would show their excitement in seeing part of their culture represented in their neighborhood.  That made me feel proud and very much connected to this neighborhood." - Lizbeth Cabral

Painted utility box design with a coffee pot and the words "Buenos Dias"
"Buenos Dias" by Lizbeth Cabral, Jamaica Plain
What was the process of painting the utility box like for you?

"The process of painting the utility box was harder than I expected, but so rewarding. After cleaning and scraping off posters and old paint, as well as removing trash from the area, I was finally able to put my sketch on the box, and then start painting. When I was done, it was gratifying to see the before-photo of the blank box and compare it to the after-photo where it was transformed with bright, cheerful colors. Some residents did approach me while I was working, either to compliment my work or ask what I was doing, which allowed me to tell them about the PaintBox program." - Claudia Romano

Utility box painted to look like a brightly colored building with happy people together in the windows
"Living Together" by Claudia Romano, Allston
Were you able to interact with residents while working? Was there a specific moment that stood out to you during the installation process?

"Yes, I always get a lot of interest in my outdoor projects from folks passing by. I answered a lot of questions and entertained a group of college kids from Northeastern who were in the neighborhood documenting buildings and such for a class project. I posed for photos and even signed a couple autographs. I also try to encourage small kids to do a little painting and was able to get several kids, who were out for walks with their parents, to do a little painting." - Howie Green

Utility box with a bright geometric painting of Uphams Corner
"Uphams Corner" by Howie Green, Dorchester
Why do you think the PaintBox program is important?

"The PaintBox program is imperative to the culture of Boston. It brings beauty and attention to otherwise neglected objects in the city and allows local artists the opportunity to create magic and share their work with the public in an accessible way." - Meagan Hepp

Painted utility box with concentric, rounded shapes in rainbow colors
"Rainbowland" by Meagan Hepp, Hyde Park
How has this experience impacted or informed your practice as an artist?

"This project will always feel special to me. It was my first solo project, I had only assisted on murals before and never created my own. I was pushed out of my comfort zone and the project taught me a lot about making murals. I am striving to do more public art in the future so this was a great stepping stone for me." - Jesse Scott

Painted utility box with half in yellow featuring a happy face, and half in blue with a face looking concerned
"Digital World" by Jesse Scott, Roslindale



PaintBox Social

Thank you to all of the artists who participated in the 2023 PaintBox program! To view photos from the event we hosted to celebrate the 2022 and 2023 PaintBox artists, click the link below.

Collage of images from the PaintBox Social




PaintBox Social Photos

Want to learn more?

For more information and to see designs from past years, visit

Do you want to paint a utility box in your neighborhood? Follow us on social media to be updated when the 2025 PaintBox application goes live: InstagramXFacebook.

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2023 PaintBox Map

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