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Awesome Public Art: a True Gift to our Cities!

I am currently half human and half icicle due to wandering outside in Boston’s winter for 3 hours with a foolishly thin jacket, but that’s all right.


Because the reason I was outside was to go on a famous Context Tour of Boston’s Big Dig!

Public art light boxes
An artist decorating one of many painted metal boxes around Boston.

I am thrilled to report that thanks to the tour, my noggin is now sparkling with countless new Boston facts, and my camera now brims with 100 fresh photos.

All of these facts and photos will be converted into articles for YOU in the next few weeks, but until then, let’s revel in something that leapt out at me on my trudge back home: Pretty public art makes the world a better place!

The glowing shape-robot sculpture loves you.

Examine these two examples.

The first photo is one of the many painted boxes around Boston, in the act of being created. What’s inside those ubiquitous boxes, anyway? Traffic light guts? Security apparatus? Gremlins? Who knows. But I do know that in neighborhoods all over this city, the bland metal boxes are beautified by both artists and community groups. Yay!

I wonder how this decorating brigade gets activated. Are the artists sought out and hired? Do groups or individuals petition to do it? Dear readers, if you know, enlighten us!

The second photo is a group of sculptures by Rowes Wharf near South Station in Downtown Boston, which is part of one of the many sculpture groups that delightfully dot the new Greenway that replaced the repulsive Central Artery highway. (More on this highway in subsequent post-tour articles!)

Now check out this shape-robot sculpture and just try not to smile. The form is very human-like, innit? And you can see the pulsing blue glow in the middle (which also turns reddish, in person), right? Let out a little chuckle as you realize that is the beating heart of the shape-robot who is clearly in love with you. :)

Public art painting
You can really see how the art brightens the street!

Artists are heroes. (Incidentally, the workmen who carried out my giant broken refrigerator and lugged in the new one are also heroes. There are a lot of unsung heroes in this world, for sure.)

Artists who create Public Art make our eyes happier and our lives brighter.

Sometimes they take it too far and tick off folks, throwing in our path their crazy expanses of metal, or jagged edges, or gaudy colors (I love how that artist man’s coat matches the mustard-colored flowers in his creation), or risque innuendoes…

… but in the end their hearts and their smarts and their art are in the right place: our faces. Because let’s accept it: our days can ALWAYS use a little color and a little shakin’-it-up.

Hip hip hooray for the Public Art creators of the world. Keep it up!

See more art prompts here!

Boston’s lovely Custom House Tower with shape-robot sculptures below on the Greenway!


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Pete Laberge

Friday 1st of March 2013

The shape robot reminds me of "Nomad" from Star Trek TOS!

And that metal box is UBER cute. If I went there, I would have a hard time resisting the urge to "borrow it" for a few decades...


Friday 1st of March 2013

Hahaha!!! :)


Sunday 16th of September 2012

people who want to decorate the metal boxes in Boston DO go through a formal process, via PaintBox. you can apply here: you have to buy your own supplies and submit your proposal, but they award a $300 stipend upon completion. happy painting!


Sunday 16th of September 2012

Delia, I had no idea!!! Thank you for this awesome information!!!

chavonna xu

Friday 7th of October 2011

One of my favorites are on the green trail in boston. The painted boxes are so pretty espically in the night time because you get to see the blue or red glowing light in the middle. It would be so exciting if we actually made one in real life.

Xiu Na

Monday 25th of April 2011

I've seen many of the painted metal boxes in Boston. My favorite one is a painting of bamboo sticks near Downtown.

Helen Oluokun

Wednesday 15th of December 2010

These pictures are WONDERFUL! how do you come across such unique things? I am jealous :p

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