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Charles River Esplanade’s newest public art features transformed pumphouses

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Three murals now cover the oft-vandalized structures, thanks to state and private funding

A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Ann Lewis.

The Charles River Esplanade is looking a little bit more colorful these days because of three new art murals covering its oft-vandalized pumphouses. These utilitarian structures now pop with pieces of art.

The Esplanade Association, a nonprofit partner to the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreation, curated this latest beautification effort.

“The Esplanade Association is committed to enhancement projects which not only complement the park’s natural beauty, but also encourage our visitors to slow down, think creatively, and take a fresh look at their riverfront surroundings,” Michael Nichols, executive director of the Esplanade Association, said in a statement.

These new installations will accompany the park’s first mural, installed in 2017. Here the details on the new murals and the artists behind them, per the Esplanade Association:

Solei designed the westernmost mural into a sea of greens and blues that showcases the Esplanade’s natural harmony of earth, river, and sky for her piece, Rain River.

The main design motif in her mural, Face Chain, is a visual representation of the interconnectedness of human identities, reminding us that we all use each other to create who we are. The artist found her BU-adjacent canvas on the Esplanade particularly meaningful, as Solei graduated from the Boston University College of Fine Arts.

A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Solei. All photos courtesy of the Esplanade Association
A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Solei.

Sophy Tuttle highlighted several species found on the Esplanade for the mural Habitation, including the belted kingfisher, red maple, double-breasted cormorant, and monarch butterfly. Tuttle lives in Medford. Her indoor and outdoor murals can be found from Massachusetts to Mexico.

A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Sophy Tuttle.
A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Sophy Tuttle.

Ann Lewis, a multidisciplinary activist artist based in Detroit transformed the Fairfield Street pumphouse into a pattern of multicolored lines in her Untitled mural. She has created three public works in Boston, including See Her commissioned by Now + There, and A Post-colorblind America for HubWeek.

A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Ann Lewis.
A mural on the Esplanade in Boston by Ann Lewis.

Funding for the pumphouses’ improvements and art came from the DCR as well as from individual donations to the Esplanade Association (the group’s website still shows a request for $10,000 to paint the pumphouses).

Finally, this map shows the exact locations of the new murals.

A map of the new murals on the Charles River Esplanade. Courtesy of the Esplanade Association