Public Can Help Can Pick Next Longmont Shock Art Projects
If you go
What: Shock Art Design Contest
When: 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday through April 20
Where: Old Town Marketplace, 332 Main St.
Since 2011, the Art in Public Places Commission has teamed with Longmont Power & Communications to transform the large green utility boxes around town into works of art.
With more than 40 boxes already completed as part of the Shock Art Design Contest, it has become one of the most popular public art programs initiated since the city in 2009 approved an ordinance to allocate 1 percent of the Capital Improvement Projects fund toward art projects.
“People love the surprise and discovery of it,” said Lauren Greenfield, Art in Public Places administrator. “You never know when you might see it and every single one of them is so different in terms of personality, message, style and creativity.”
Thanks to the relaxed guidelines, unique spacial challenges and public visibility, Greenfield added it also has become one of artists’ favorite programs.
On Monday, 25 artists from all over the state submitted miniature models of their proposals. By Friday, all of the submissions will be hung in the Old Town Marketplace, where the public will have a chance to vote on their favorite.
This year artists will be vying for the opportunity to paint one of three switchgear boxes. Each winner will be awarded $2,000 to complete the work.
With limited guidelines, designs range from landscapes and wildlife paintings to more conceptual pieces, such as the one Jason Kay completed on Pace Street and Colo. 66 titled “Puzzled,” which transformed the switchgear box into a Rubik’s Cube.
“The best part about public art is it’s for everybody,” said Tif Choate, artist and two-time winner from Layfayette. “It makes people joyful, sparks conversations and helps revive communities. Just look at the RiNo District in Denver. I attribute that to public art. It brought everyone to the area then, all of the sudden, people are thinking of it differently, which brings up the entire economy.”
Because they are created in public view, the projects also allow artists to get immediate feedback and engage with people. Many of the previous winners said such interaction was one of their favorite parts about the project.
“I was right by a walking path and people would stop and visit a little bit, which I really enjoyed,” Dan Hollingshead, a two-time winner from Longmont, said of his most recent piece titled “Swimming Fish” at Renaissance Drive and Pike Road. “There’re smaller boxes in people’s front yards and everybody kept saying can you come paint the one in my yard.”
Some, like Laurel Bahe, from Colorado Springs, who painted “Hoot” at Sixth Avenue and Main Street even allowed people to join in the painting.
“It’s a really cool thing that Longmont does,” she said. “In Colorado Springs they don’t actually have people paint on the utility boxes, they make skins or decals which they put over the box, so it’s not quite as interactive.”
John Spina: 303-473-1389, firstname.lastname@example.org or twitter.com/jsspina24