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Thread: Traffic box murals

  1. #1

    Traffic box murals

    Hi All,

    I'm wondering if anyone has had any experience with community murals on traffic boxes at intersections, or other areas in the right of way.

    The link below is to a Fliker acct that has photos of what I am talking about. I've found a few cities that do this, and I am looking for experiences/thoughts etc... I am trying to work with our Public Works and Arts Commission to introduce this in our city. I think it is a great idea, and am looking for policy on maintenance, content, etc..

    If this has been posted about before, I apologize, I tried searching the forums but couldn't come up with anything


    http://www.flickr.com/groups/brisbane_tsbs/pool/

    Thanks!

  2. #2
    Cyburbian DetroitPlanner's avatar
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    We have problems with graffitti on them too. It seems to be getting worse over the last year or so.
    We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes - Fr Gabriel Richard 1805

  3. #3
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Here are a few more examples from US cities. I don't have direct experience with these, but have seen them in many places. You might try contacting the appropriate folks in these cities to get more feedback (could be planning or public art departments, or someone else altogether)

    Stamford, CT: http://peteflow.blogspot.com/2006/11...fic-boxes.html

    Santa Cruz, CA: http://www.ci.santa-cruz.ca.us/pr/pa...affic_art1.htm

    Fort Worth, TX: http://www.star-telegram.com/northea...ry/638907.html (link to video story to see examples)

    In my experience with public art and especially murals here, this is a good strategy to help mitigate tagging. Generally speaking, taggers and graffiti artists don't mess with artwork, especially if local folks have a had a hand in it. It happens, of course, but not as often as I might have expected. If you can get some graffiti artists (not taggers, but real artists) to create some of the work, that is another way to create buy-in and involve people who the City might otherwise be at odds with.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  4. #4
    Cyburbia Administrator Dan's avatar
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    Moderator note:
    Victor, welcome to Cyburbia!

    I've moded the thread to Design, Space and Place because the topic seems to deal more with that David Sucher would call "city comforts".

  5. #5
    Cyburbian Masswich's avatar
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    My fair city (Somerville, MA) has murals on many of its traffic signal boxes. The Arts Council works with the Planning folks on it. Don't know the details but I like it.

  6. #6
    Thanks for your help!


    Quote Originally posted by Dan View post
    Moderator note:
    Victor, welcome to Cyburbia!

    I've moded the thread to Design, Space and Place because the topic seems to deal more with that David Sucher would call "city comforts".

  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    These are not traffic boxes, but they do occur on city sidewalks where various business locations have commissioned the art pieces in Belzoni, Mississippi - the Catfish Capitol of the World:

    http://www.catfishcapitalonline.com/catfishparade.htm

    These are quite the favorites of the locals. You can click on an image to see an enlargement, and there are links to city background and festival history etc.

    Every community has its own claim to fame or what the locals are most proud of and Belzoni is making the most of it!

    Belzoni with a population in 2000 of 2,663 has its Catfish Festival annually with over 20,000 now attending each year!

    It is really unites the community and puts a smile on everyone's face.

  8. #8
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    I live in Santa Cruz, one of the examples wahday gave. The program is run through the public arts commission and has really helped give the city more of a surrealistic feel; a lot of the paintings are abstract or are thought provoking, like the best street art. One sign takes approx 1,000 dollars to paint; not a whole lot and in SC the government will match $500 if you pony up the rest. Currently I'm working with a group that's trying to get neighborhood-specific murals on boxes, and it seems like that will work out as well. I would say the program has been a success.

  9. #9
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    PS Some of the catfish went on a traveling display in other cities in Mississippi (and elsewhere?) and were placed on street corners in the business section.

    Another way the small town of Belzoni promoted its presence and its claim of "Catfish Capitol of the World."
    Last edited by Streck; 22 May 2008 at 7:34 AM.

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    Signature private art in public places

    Here is another link to private art in the city in the form of carousel horses in Meridian, Mississippi:

    http://www.sitewrench.com/hopevillag...t.aspx?pid=137

    These are full size carousel horses scattered at various public locations throughout the city. Meridian was noted for its large carousel as a favorite attraction for youngsters in the area long ago. Now anyone can commission a carousel horse, and place it on display in their area for a donation to Hope Village for Children.

    A worthwhile organization, and a signature image for the city of Meridian.

  11. #11

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    "Art in Motion" in Calgary

    There's a short piece on Calgary's similar program to put art on traffic boxes about a quarter of the way down this page: http://spacingmontreal.ca/public-art/ called "Art in Motion" with some photos.

    The actual art pieces themselves don't take up the whole box, which is a little bit of a shame really, they tend to be small pictures with a blurb about the piece underneath them.

    I have noticed that they are still prone to tagging in parts of the City, probably because the art isn't the major compont of the box.

  12. #12
    Hmm... I wonder if the program would work if stipends were not given to artists. I am looking to do this program and make it as easy as possible. I would think that the opportunity to have a canvas on a popular downtown corner would be incentive enough, but other cities may have found that it isn't. It would be interesting to find out.




    Quote Originally posted by RPfresh View post
    I live in Santa Cruz, one of the examples wahday gave. The program is run through the public arts commission and has really helped give the city more of a surrealistic feel; a lot of the paintings are abstract or are thought provoking, like the best street art. One sign takes approx 1,000 dollars to paint; not a whole lot and in SC the government will match $500 if you pony up the rest. Currently I'm working with a group that's trying to get neighborhood-specific murals on boxes, and it seems like that will work out as well. I would say the program has been a success.

  13. #13
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by victor-cmyk View post
    Hmm... I wonder if the program would work if stipends were not given to artists. I am looking to do this program and make it as easy as possible. I would think that the opportunity to have a canvas on a popular downtown corner would be incentive enough, but other cities may have found that it isn't. It would be interesting to find out.
    As someone who works for an arts organization (sort of a combo arts-community development group), I have to advocate for paying the artist. Bear in mind that artists are CONSTANTLY being asked to donate their skills for good causes - fundraisers, "meaningful" projects that don't have a lot of funding, etc. Its a wonder they make a living at all.

    For professional artists, this is their bread and butter and one of the pitfalls of this career choice is the inconsistency of income. I'm not trying to flame you here, just trying to encourage a different view of what the artist brings to the table on a project like this: specialized skills, design sensibilities, and lots of time-investment.

    Yes, you may get some talent that is willing to donate their skills for some exposure, but at the same time, would you be asking an engineer or planner to donate their time on the project? Between design and painting of the boxes, time invested could be quite significant and surface area-wise, its the equivalent of painting 3-4 standard-sized canvases. Plus, they may have to do it on the street if the boxes can't be removed and brought into the studio. Can you imagine rendering maps or plans in public on the sidewalk? Not an easy task.

    Just something to consider... I'm excited that you are considering a project like this - I'm keen on public art and I like this re-interpretation of everyday objects/infrastructure into something surprising, novel and playful. I'm sure your residents would appreciate it, too.
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  14. #14
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    At some point will you be encouraging graffiti? Especially if the "art" is a little too avant gard or weird or not understood to be art - and anyone thinks they can do better by painting over them - or just putting their gang logo (or school tag) on them to mark their territory?

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    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Streck View post
    At some point will you be encouraging graffiti? Especially if the "art" is a little too avant gard or weird or not understood to be art - and anyone thinks they can do better by painting over them - or just putting their gang logo (or school tag) on them to mark their territory?
    Our experience has been, generally, that taggers don't mess with artwork - especially murals (even if it is "avant garde" or some style they are not down with). It happens, but less often than I would have expected here in Albuquerque. I lived in Philly for a long time and they have one of the most extensive public mural collections in the country. A friend has worked there for many years and they have also found them to be a great graffiti deterrent (many have been painted on the sides of tear-out row homes that were otherwise the site of this kind of activity). The other thing is that as traffic boxes, they are often located in high visibility areas at major intersections. Doesn't mean they can't get tagged (cause obviously they do), but its a lot less likely than a dark, lonely overpass...

    Again, I think involving local graffiti artist talent (and I differentiate this from taggers) is another way of addressing this.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  16. #16
    Cyburbian Otis's avatar
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    I think one of the intents of these programs is to discourage tagging, and it seems to work from what I have heard. And I echo the comments regarding artists donating their time and expertise. There is no reason to expect that an artist would consider "the exposure" to be payment enough. Exposure doesn't put food on the table. Money does. Artists get this line way too much.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian RPfresh's avatar
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    At some point will you be encouraging graffiti? Especially if the "art" is a little too avant gard or weird or not understood to be art - and anyone thinks they can do better by painting over them - or just putting their gang logo (or school tag) on them to mark their territory?
    I haven't noticed any tags on art boxes in Santa Cruz. Blank ones do seem to attract unwanted paint, though.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    Thought I would resurrect this thread to post a link to this story about traffic box art done by Iranian-American artist Seyed Alavi, a well known public artist who, I think,. does some very cool work (http://here2day.netwiz.net/seyedsite...shomepage.html)

    Check out the Emeryville, CA traffic box art story here:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/articl...BA43117I94.DTL
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  19. #19
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    I have seen in semi-urban settings (where the business has landscaping on its property) that landscaping (at least bushes) hides the garish chrome boxes from view, thereby making them less of a target for grafitti - and letting them blend into the surroundings.

    I notice that overpasses with generous landscaping (which hides the bare concrete surfaces - obscuring the "billboard" effect) have little problem with grafitti. It is just the exposed overpass walls and columns that become targets and eyesores.

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