The Boston Landmarks Commission unanimously approved as presented an application to paint murals on four electrical boxes on the Esplanade during a May 24 public hearing, which took place virtually.
The application, submitted by the Esplanade Association, is for a proposed project the group is sponsoring in partnership with the Department of Conservation and Recreation and Volunteers Incorporating Black Excellence, Inc. (VIBE) to contract four qualified artists to design and paint murals on four electric boxes on multi-use pathways on the western end of the park, directly behind Boston University and between the BU and Massachusetts Avenue bridges.
Alison McRae, capital project manager for EA, said the project is being made possible in part through a $6,000 grant from the Boston Planning & Development Agency via its Boston Red Sox Fenway Park Demonstration Project Community Benefits to “help highlight the natural landscape on the river,” and to discourage vandals from continuing to target the electrical boxes with graffiti.
“We see graffiti come to a halt when we paint these spaces and give people something more colorful and interesting to look at,” said McRae, who added that she expected the murals would go up in July “when we have all our ducks in a row.”
While the murals are expected to be only temporary, McRae said EA and the partnering groups on this project have yet to determine for how long the temporary exhibit would be on display.
Asked what kind of themes or designs could be expected from the murals, McRae relied, “We were open to designs that are colorful, respectful, and tie back to the Esplanade as a gathering space for people and animals.” (Four artists’ designs have already been identified for the project, she said.)
Bradford Walker, vice chair of the Landmarks Commission, expressed some concern that the murals would call attention to park infrastructure meant to be in the background.
McRae responded, “It’s a vandalism deterrent [designed] to spark a little joy in the park…and it’s only four boxes we’re proposing at the moment – all fairly close to Storrow Drive. There are about a dozen more boxes that we have no plans to paint, although we’d be open to the idea.”