Public Art on the Esplanade

The Esplanade Association, in partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Conservation & Recreation (DCR), has commissioned four mesmerizing art murals and two art activations in recent years along the Esplanade, adding bright colors and bold shapes to the natural beauty of this iconic riverfront park.  

Patterned Behavior, by renowned local artist Silvia López Chavez, was the first public art mural on the Esplanade, commissioned by the Esplanade Association in partnership with DCR, and curated and produced by Now + There in 2017. 

In 2019, the Esplanade Association and DCR brought three new artists to the Esplanade to transform three graffiti-stricken infrastructure buildings with the Pumphouse Mural project.  

We’re excited to share that in Summer 2022, four new artists will install art murals on electrical boxes located on the Esplanade in partnership with DCR and Volunteers Incorporating Black Excellence, Inc. Each of these murals, and the four that came before them, are designed to playfully reflect the natural beauty of the Esplanade, and highlight how people and animals move through this landscape.  

Read on for more information about the Esplanade’s current murals, and past public art activations! 

Patterned Behavior by Silvia López Chavez

Patterned Behavior is a bold temporary mural by artist Silvia López Chavez. The concept for this mural takes inspiration from the Esplanade’s immediate environment, and the many ways this space is enjoyed and used day-to-day. Patterned Behavior was the first mural commissioned by the Esplanade Association and was curated and produced by Now + There. This first-ever professional mural in the Park echoes the beauty, diversity, and energy of the Esplanade and life along the Charles River.

Untitled by Ann Lewis

This mural invites visitors to contemplate our planet’s most abundant – and most precious – resource, and the systems put in place to coordinate access to it. It is said that our bodies are nearly 70% water. This fact only reinforces what humans have intrinsically known since the dawn of our time: that the health of our waterways is directly connected to the health of our communities.

This work evokes an interconnected abstract dialog of our increasingly complex relationship to water and explores the natural flow and aquamarine hues of this life-giving resource.

Habitation by Sophy Tuttle

Habitation highlights several species which share with us the land we call Boston, including the belted kingfisher, red maple, double-breasted cormorant, and monarch butterfly. These plants and animals are part of the overall experience of the Esplanade, and often bring a little spark of joy when they choose to interact with human visitors.

Sophy Tuttle chose to showcase local flora and fauna because they breathe life into the park – both literally and emotionally. The colorful circles symbolize how our lives overlap in this special place and visualize the interconnectedness of all forms of life along the Esplanade.

Rain River by Solei

The main design element featured in Rain River is the Face Chain, a recurring motif in Solei’s work.

The Face Chain is a visual representation of the interconnectedness of our human identities, reminding us that we all use each other to create who we are. With Rain River, Solei has merged this message with the Esplanade’s natural harmony of earth, river, and sky.

Solei is inspired by the idea that the pumphouses represent the connection between the city and the river, balancing these entities as we do each other – individually, interpersonally, and as a community.

Hatched: Breaking through the Silence

From January 22 to February 21, 2021, the Esplanade Association commissioned “Hatched: Breaking through the Silence,” a four week illumination and sound experience that provided a family-friendly and physically-distant celebration at the famed Hatch Memorial Shell. “Hatched” cut through the darkness of the winter months, offering a public space for joy and optimism in the New Year. The piece was an original 15-minute visual and sound performance led by Boston-based creative Maria Finkelmeier of MF Dynamics and was shaped specifically for the 80-year-old amphitheater itself.

Frozen in Life by Anna Thurber

Over 3,500 visitors celebrated the first days of Spring 2022 at the Esplanade Association’s public art installation: Frozen in Life, by artist Anna Thurber, Friday, March 18 through Sunday, March 20 at Fiedler Field on the Esplanade.

Visitors experienced the breadth and beauty of the Esplanade’s plant species through the lens of artist Anna Thurber’s botanical ice sculptures. Three seasons of Esplanade plants, handpicked by the artist in 2021, were suspended in ice, encouraging contemplation, conversation, and appreciation for the Esplanade’s plant biodiversity. Each of the more than 40 sculptures were carefully placed in dynamic arrangements that instantly evoke the rhythm of the seasons.

Support Public Art on the Esplanade

If you’re interested in supporting public art on the Esplanade, please contact Jim Diverio at jdiverio@esplanade.org or 617-837-2870.

If you’re interested in being contacted for future public art opportunities, please contact Alison Badrigian at abadrigian@esplanade.org.

This program is supported in part by a grant from the Boston Cultural Council and administered by the Mayor’s Office of Arts and Culture.

If you’re a local artist interested in bringing your talents to the Esplanade, sign up for our e-newsletter and keep an eye out for open calls for artists at esplanade.org/rfp