AP NEWS

Johnnie St. Vrain: What Protects Shock Art Paint on Transformer Boxes?

April 14, 2019

Dear Johnnie: Can you give me information on the painted metal boxes? What kind of paint did the artists use, and what did they use to make it stay and not slime off with climate? Thanks. I so appreciate your wonderful information.

Walking Down Electric Avenue

Dear Walking: Longmont Art in Public Places leaders not only protect the painted designs on the electric transformers that get selected through the Shock Art program against rain, snow and sunshine.

The city also endeavors to see that art on the metal boxes is kept safe from malicious graffiti artists who try to obscure the chosen paintings with their own work.

That’s done with a special sealant that is a Sherwin-Williams anti-graffiti coating product, Longmont’s Art in Public Places Administrator Lauren Greenfield told me.

“When Shock Art winners are announced, they agree to go through an orientation with the city of Longmont staff to ensure safety requirements for the boxes are met, as well as the recommended paints and materials are used,” Greenfield said.

Typically, artists use acrylic paints, which are common in art, or house paints, Greenfield said.

“It depends on the artist and the design,” she said.

But the city provides the sealant, which is why there is sometimes a stickiness to finished Shock Art. The substance also prevents ultraviolet light from the sun from fading the artwork on the transformers, in addition to blocking graffiti.

The same product has also been applied to the city’s murals created through its Art in Public Places program, Greenfield said.

“We have found that if it is tagged, the tagging wipes off pretty easily” without the paint under the sealant coming off, too, she said, adding the sealant “is not cheap.”

But you have to get the city’s permission, either through winning one of its Shock Art contests or otherwise, to paint any utility boxes, Greenfield stressed.

If you want to have input on the designs that get put on the next round of transformers up for painting, head to Old Town Marketplace, 332 Main St., between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. before April 20 to vote for your favorite submission.

The designs submitted by artists will be on display until then.

Send questions to johnnie@times-call.com .