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Swampscott commissions young artist to paint the town

Marblehead teen Shawn Stolarz stands by a Humphrey Street utility box he recently painted. (Shawn Stolarz)

SWAMPSCOTT — Shawn Stolarz, of Marblehead, spent roughly three days painting small, intricate patterns on a Humphrey Street utility box this summer. The publicly-commissioned piece is not the young artist’s first masterpiece, nor will it be his last.

Across the street from the Mission on the Bay restaurant, the utility box sits painted with detailed blue floral patterns spread across a white backdrop. The piece, which Stolarz said was influenced by the blue-and-white patterns of Dutch Delftware and Turkish pottery, depicts a face on the back of the box — an addition Stolarz said he painted to add a bit of his own style to the project.

In April, Swampscott put out a call for artists to paint four Humphrey Street utility boxes for a $500 stipend. Stolarz, who had already painted two utility boxes on Salem’s Essex and Canal streets, took on the project.

“I’m really inspired by contemporary art. I like to put a huge focus on a painting’s composition and I really care about its design,” Stolarz, a rising junior at Bishop Fenwick, said. “It was a great opportunity. People stopped by and offered me drinks, they took pictures, and offered me ice cream. Everyone was extremely nice.”

Stolarz, who hopes to attend college as an art major, started painting at the age of 11 after watching YouTube art tutorials. He later enrolled in Marblehead’s Acorn Gallery School of Art, where he honed his talent and painted a multitude of abstract paintings, including multiple portraits of his unacquainted muse — British model Kate Moss.

“I’ve always been really inspired by Kate Moss and her beauty,” Stolarz said.

Currently, the young artist is working on a 60-inch recreation of Michelangelo’s “Battle of Cascina,” which he plans to cover with bright-pink pop art-inspired flowers.

In addition to the Michelangelo recreation, Stolarz said he plans to paint a series of bohemian egg-tempera pieces inspired by the style of late 19th-century Vogue Magazine covers next month.

“I’ve been planning this painting for months, fascinated by how the idea of beauty has evolved over time. We can see that evolution through fashion, body type, and body language. I am making this painting with egg tempera, which is a medium created by mixing egg yolk, pigment, and water together. This will be my first attempt at this medium, so I am really excited,” Stolarz said.

Stolarz’s work will be showcased at his Aug. 13 solo show at the Marblehead Arts Association.

“I’m really grateful to work in Swampscott and to have that opportunity,” Stolarz said. “I really hope that everyone who walks by the Swampscott box enjoys it and can see the beauty in it.”

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