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Public art project to brighten traffic boxes
Sunflowers beam from the outside of a traffic signal box at the 16th Street entrance to Yuma Palms mall. The box is the first of many that organizers of a new community art project hope to beautify with help from the public.
The project is called Paint Outside the Box, and its organizers are the city of Yuma Engineering Department, the Arts and Culture Division/Parks and Recreation Department and the Public Art Committee (PAC).
The project goal is to eventually decorate hundreds of the plain traffic signal boxes seen at intersections throughout Yuma, beginning with just a few of them in high-visibility areas this spring.
The one with sunflowers at the mall entrance was designed and painted by Lia Littlewood, an acrylic artist and PAC member. She chose a color palette that would make the design “pop.”
As a way to get support and raise awareness for the project, she donated the paints and painted the box for the 5th Annual ARTBeat held downtown in April 2012.
This past December, the city's traffic signal crew donated time and effort to transport and install the box at its current location.
Now that its installation is complete, organizers are calling for artists — some of whom will be selected to paint four more boxes that have already been identified for beautification.
Children from several local schools will create designs to submit to the project, and PAC will select four of those designs. PAC will also choose four artists to paint the four winning designs on the boxes.
Organizers also need sponsors from the community to provide paint, brushes and tarps for the project.
After completion, each box will be installed during a ceremony in which a plaque with artists' and sponsors' names will be placed on site.
The four boxes will be placed along 24th Street near Desert View Elementary School, Gila Ridge High School, Arizona Western College and Otondo Elementary School.
The Paint Outside the Box project addresses a number of vital community needs, such as community involvement and collaboration, beautification and unexpected delight in seeing art across the city, and graffiti abatement.
Many other cities are doing this project or a version of it, says Ana Lazo-Padilla, visual arts specialist for the city of Yuma.
Yuma has done many similar public art projects, such as outdoor murals and decorative paintings on local utility buildings.