DANBURY Traffic-stopping street art
DANBURY — An alien robot named “Rockboldic” is coming to Main Street this fall, but 8-year-old Sophie O’Connell says no one needs to worry — he’s very happy.
Rockboldic is the brainchild of the young artist and one of nine new art installations being applied to the otherwise drab, gray traffic control boxes that dot intersections around downtown Danbury.
O’Connell is by far the youngest of the seven artists whose work was selected for the city project and she beamed when Mayor Mark Boughton helped her cut the ceremonial red ribbon on one of the installations Wednesday morning.
“One day I just made it up and thought it looks like an alien and a robot, so I decided it must be an alien robot,” she said. “The idea took a little while. I drew it on an iPad in about a day.”
O’Connell’s piece will be installed in the coming weeks to the box outside the Danbury Innovation Center at the library but several others were installed on boxes, which control the traffic signals at intersections, along Main Street and on the Danbury Green this week.
The gray metal boxes used to be a magnet for graffiti, Boughton said. But other cities — like Stamford and Bridgeport — have opened up applications for street art on the utility closets, so Danbury opened an application to try to bring more color and vibrancy to downtown, he said.
“Now they’ve become a place where people can express themselves through art,” Boughton said.
Rockboldic is hardly O’Connell’s first street art. Her art has been featured in Worcester, Mass., and she’s already a member of a Brooklyn art collective for her mural work — when she’s not studying at Mill Ridge Primary School, at least.
Her work will appear alongside established mural artist Toni Miraldi, a Newtown painter whose work will beautify three of the traffic boxes.
“I love color,” Miraldi said. “I’m a big fan of public art and getting it out into the community.”
Other boxes will feature the work of Tracy Biagiarelli, a Redding graphic designer, and Joseph Scinto, an artist and high school art teacher on Long Island, who each played on themes from Danbury’s history for their submissions. Annette Womack, Debra Burger and Helga Ruopp each also submitted winning drawings, though not all have been installed yet.
Each artist won a $200 prize and city staff hope to host another round of submissions in the coming months to add art to other city traffic boxes.
Boughton hopes the new installations are the first in a wave of new public art for downtown, including his ongoing efforts to buy back the gigantic Uncle Sam statue that once stood at the Danbury Fair. That piece, several other artifacts from the fair and a massive mural on a downtown building in the style of the old fairgrounds posters could add a new pop to the area, he said.
“I want it big, you know Boughton goes big,” he said.