An ice cream cone, blues icons, a cheeseburger and an antique radio can now be seen downtown near traffic stops. Until Friday, artists are painting traffic boxes to brighten the city with colorful depictions of the city’s culture.
Artists from around the city were commissioned by the City of Laurel, the Lauren Rogers Museum of Art and the Laurel Arts League to display their talents by transforming plain traffic control boxes into works of art.
Laurel Mayor Johnny Magee said the artwork on these traffic boxes is an improvement and adds something interesting to the area.
“It showcases the artistic talent that is present in our community, and we are pleased the City was able to secure the grant to fund this project,” Magee said. “I’m excited to see the finished work.”
Last month, the City of Laurel put a call out for artists to paint 12 traffic control boxes around downtown. The project is funded through a $10,000 Mississippi Arts Commission grant. Artists received an $800 honorarium to offset the cost of the materials and for their work. The City of Laurel said the goal of this initiative is to brighten city streetscapes, enhance community pride and create new, paid opportunities for local artists.
A committee composed of members from the LRMA Museum Council, Laurel Arts League, Laurel Main Street and Laurel Housing Authority reviewed the entries and selected winners based on artistic merit, technical competence, continuous flow/wrap, appeal to both pedestrians and viewers in vehicles and suitability for public display.
LRMA will also work with students from Oak Park Elementary as well as the Laurel Magnet School for the Arts have completed boxes, and groups from Laurel High School and the Laurel Housing Authority are scheduled to paint before the end of the month, said Hillary Stienwinder, LRMA education curator.
The artists selected to paint boxes were Katy Bateman for the box at Sawmill Road and 5th Street; Sarah Boger for the box at Carroll Gartin Boulevard and Magnolia Street; Charles Bolden for the box at 6th Avenue and 5th Street; Mark Brown for the box at Magnolia and Teresa streets; Lori Lynn Hallifax for the box at Sawmill Road and Carroll Gartin; Grace Harrison for the box at Oak and Magnolia streets; Brad Holifield for the box at Carroll Gartin and Spec Wilson boulevards; Tammy Matte for the box at Mason and Rogers streets; Rhonda Smith for the box at Central Avenue and Spec Wilson; Sean "Starwars" Stewart for the box at Sawmill and Mason streets; Laura Tew for the box at Audubon Drive and Old Bay; and Shelby Yarber for the box at 5th Street and 12th Avenue.
Cam Bonelli is a reporter and photojournalist for the Laurel Leader-Call. Follow them on Twitter @Cambonelli or contact them by email at email@example.com.