Anita Lauricella, Senior Planner/Project Manager
Eli Portman. Website: http://eliportman.weebly.com/ Instagram: @eli.portman
In unprecedented times we need art of all kinds. Born and raised as a Bostonian, and someone who’s been greatly shaken by the world events of the past year, I seek solace in what inspires me. And for me, these tend to be very small things around the city. The wake of a boat in the harbor as it mutters by. The gnarled base of a tired, old tree. The scratched up and much worn post of a street lamp. The stained old bricks of a Back Bay house. Windy sheets on a stretched clothesline. People enjoying their meals in a quiet, old place under hazy neon lights.
I’ve spent the last 5 years enmeshing myself within those things. Cataloging, painting, recording. I am a curator of feelings, a recorder of midday sunlight. A hearer of screeching train tracks and smeller of the greasy foods frying on lunchtime carts.
Samples of Eli Portman's previous work.
Christine Dunn, Downtown Resident
As a resident of Downtown Boston, I applaud the continuing efforts of the Downtown Boston BID to enhance our surroundings with clean streets and sidewalks as well as lovely seasonal flowers and plantings. They have now raised the bar, in collaboration with several locals artists, through the installation of the “Tasteful Boston” outdoor art installation, which salutes the city’s culinary history with vibrant and fascinating interpretations covering formally mundane utility boxes. The surprise of coming upon these creative elements is always an uplifting experience, causing you to smile albeit behind your mask!
Many thanks to the BID and the participating artists for a moment of escape as we navigate our neighborhood during this extraordinary time. The power of art should never be underestimated.
Tasteful Boston artist, Elliot Portman, smiling under his mask, just as many of the public do when they pass by the vibrant utility boxes throughout Downtown Boston.
Steve Calhoun, Production Support
It was a pleasure to be part of Tasteful Boston utility box program! The public was particularly excited to see gray metal boxes transformed into pieces of art. They would often engage the public through conversations with the artists, take photos, or give a thumbs up if just passing by.
The diversity among the artists contributed to the success of the project because the unique foods from these backgrounds are now on display. And many of the artists involved are pursuing a career, or have a career, in a completely different profession that is reflected in their work. It should also be noted that many of the artists have never attempted a project on this scale. Congratulations to all involved; your talent helped put a smile on people's faces during these trying times!
Howie Green, Website: howiegreen.com/
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.
We often hear of the iconic foods that Boston is known for but what about underrepresented foods that are quite popular (and tasty) yet do not get enough coverage? For the “Tasteful Boston” public art project, I wanted to amplify the richness of ethnic and cultural foods within local communities. As a Vietnamese American artist who grew up in Dorchester with my family, I was also interested in representing the vibrant flavors for residents who identify as immigrants and refugees. I wanted to showcase foods such as bánh mì, roti, plantains, etc. because these foods represent the dynamic and resilient stories of families and individuals as part of the Boston fabric.
April Jacubec, Website: https://www.apriljakubec.com/ - Instagram: @aprilj222
After multiple attempts to take my own life, my dedicated art practice is a large part of the reason that I’m still alive today.
I consider myself to be a mental health artist-advocate— an artist with a message. I create bright and positive, mixed-media portraits of a diverse group of people living with mental health struggles as a counter narrative to the traditionally dark and gloomy images we often see depicting mental illness. The eyes are covered, capturing the hidden/unseen nature of mental health issues. The sparkling blooms symbolize the strength, resilience, and all that can stem from living and coping with these struggles. Through these more holistic images of mental health, I aim to celebrate vulnerability, reduce stigma, and promote mental health positivity.
The project is well underway and five of our installations are complete. People are stopping and smiling and it is so gratifying to bring this splash of color to Downtown Boston. In fact the Boston Herald took notice this week and "heralded" the October Arts Scene with a feature photo. If you would like to see the completed projects, here is a short list as of October 1st:
Supporting the arts is an active part of the ongoing recovery, and, it is a joy to have twelve artists working throughout the neighborhood. Passerbys stop, chat and remark. There is a whimsical charm in the artistry of painting food. Bright colors snap to attention as brushes stroke and bring life to a gray canvas.
There are vibrant colors and all of this comes at a time when we need bold and bright images. In some cases the food is a childhood memory - a deli counter, a pot of warm soup or even a crispy cannoli shell. Whatever the differences we may have, we all come together to celebrate food. And, after all, Boston is defined by its distinct food culture. The North End, South End, Dorchester and Hyde Park - every neighborhood has a flavor and they all come together in this project in Downtown Boston. We are Tasteful Boston. Come Visit.