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  Howie Green Interviews

Tasteful Boston Public Art Project: Utility boxes featuring food from Boston painted by Boston-based artists
Artist Insight: My Unplanned Career Path As A Public Artist


The opportunity to paint the Boston Candy Box as part of the Tasteful Boston project was a dream project. Located at the site of the Boston Massacre / Old State House the box is very public and gave me a chance to pay homage to some of the many candy treats that either originated in and around Boston or are still made in the area.

When I was an art student back in the late 60's at Rochester Institute of Technology the school was building a new campus. As part of the project, they had hired 20th Century color master and world-renowned painter Josef Albers to do a pair of murals in the new Administration Tower. At the time I was working on the downtown Rochester campus, but when I found out Mr. Albers was in town I drove out every day to the new campus to pay him a visit and basically be an adoring art student fan.

I had been studying Albers' color theories at the time and was eager to meet him and get any advice or info I could glean. He was gracious and charming and lovely and the whole experience had a profound affect on my life. After seeing him (and mostly his assistant) painting the massive "Homage to a Square" pair of murals I wanted to do my own mural. Luckily enough the following year, after the entire school had moved into the new campus, a wall became available and I was able to paint a nice size mural in the Student Union photo lab. I jumped at the chance and after submitting sketches and a process plan I was able to move ahead and complete the mural - which disappeared some time in the 1980s during some renovation and new construction work on the building. Murals may be big but they are by no means permanent.

That first mural experience was awesome and the urge to do more was barking away at the back of my psyche for the next couple decades as my career careened between graphic design, illustration, TV production and various other avenues of creative endeavor. Then in 1990, a friend presented me a mural opportunity in Bedford that became a 2-year project to completely paint a public park recreation building, and it was so much fun that I have been actively involved in murals and public art projects ever since.

I developed a Pop Art mural style that is kind of like a giant paint-by-numbers that allows pretty much anyone of any age to get involved in the painting process. This allows me to invite folks from all walks of life to paint my community mural projects and since 1990, with lots of help, I have created over 100 public murals in lots of location including parks, hospitals, schools, businesses and so on and on and on. Hundreds of people have joined in my mural projects that have been sponsored by the Boston Red Sox Foundation, Mass. Dept. of Conservation and Recreation, Sun Life Financial, Epilepsy-Pralid, New Hampshire Public Schools and the Boston Mayor's Office, to name a few.

Much to my surprise, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino had become a fan of my public projects and when Boston City Hall was having new front entrances installed, he asked me to paint a temporary, moveable holiday-theme mural to cover up the plywood construction that was being used.

Around the time I was starting to work on public murals, various other public art projects started popping up, including the famous Cow Parade, Benches on Parade and the brilliant idea of having artist paint public utility boxes. In my active pursuit of any and all public art project I have painted 3 cows, a bench, 4 giant PGA golf balls, a school bus, doors, fish, an elephant, and 15 (and counting) public utility boxes. The idea of community-focused public art projects has become a global phenomenon and my designs have appeared as far away as Bangkok, Thailand.

What is the most fun for me is seeing how people react when they unexpectedly encounter "art" in public spaces. While we are painting the projects we get lots of visitors and comments and support from people passing by. They love it! I also get emails and comments on social media from people who find my public art and want me to know how much they like seeing art outside of a museum or gallery setting.

Public art projects are great exposure for artists but it's also a chance for people who have no exposure to art at all - from kids to grandparents - go join in the fun, do a little painting and experience something that they wouldn't normally get a chance to do.

I'm looking forward to my next public art project!

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