JP artists give makeovers to utility boxes

May 15, 2009
By

JOHN RUCH


Gazette Photo by Lori DeSantis
Artist Corey Corocoran, a Jamaica Plain resident and graduate of the Massachusetts College of Art, paints the utility box across from the Monument as part of the city’s PaintBox program.

Ugly city utility boxes are turning into vibrant neighborhood murals in Jamaica Plain and across the city, partly thanks to several JP artists, as the City of Boston’s PaintBox program expands.

“JP has the highest concentration of artists who are participating in the program,” said city spokesperson Nick Martin.

PaintBox began as a Boston Arts Commission pilot program last fall, with Boston artists decorating the gray sidewalk boxes, as the Gazette reported at the time. A main motivation of the program is to deter graffiti, which often targets urban objects that are unattractive to begin with. Murals, on the other hand, often are respected by graffiti taggers.

Artists in the PaintBox program are free to choose their own design. The only requirements are using durable materials and including the city’s own official tag: “City of Boston/Mayor Thomas M. Menino.” (Or “Thomas S. Menino,” as one JP box accidentally reads.)

Three new PaintBox murals in JP were completed late last month to coincide with the city’s annual Boston Shines cleanup effort. The new murals include:

• Centre and Mozart streets at Mozart Park, an Indian henna-style design by JP artist Alex Dawes.

• 3696 Washington St. across from the Forest Hills T Station, a colorful dot design by JP artist Erin Doolit-tle.

• Monument Square in front of Loring-Greenough House, an African mask-style design by Corey Corcoran.

Another new mural by JP artists Elizebeth Nicholson and Hilary Alder is under way at Lamartine and Boylston streets near the Stony Brook T Station.

The collage art that JP artist Jessica Burko created on a box at Centre and Moraine streets last year as part of the PaintBox pilot program soon will get some repairs by Burko, Dawes and JP artist Rebecca Greene.

Greene painted a box of her own in South Boston as part of the program. Another JP artist involved in a PaintBox project outside of the neighborhood is Tracy Stone, who is working on a box in front of the Roslindale Community Center.

More than 30 utility boxes citywide were scheduled to be decorated in the recent round of the PaintBox pro-gram, and the goal is to decorate 100 boxes by the end of the year, according to Martin.

The artists are paid a $300 stipend for their work. The stipend money comes from donations from private and institutional funders, including Massport, Martin said.

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