Since 2007, works of art have been springing up at intersections across the city. Local artists and businesses are decorating traffic boxes with colorful murals as a part of the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District’s Stop and START Initiative, which seeks to ‘enliven the mundane’.
So far, artists have transformed eleven of the plain boxes throughout town into paintings ranging from a fiery sunset to a tubby tomato.
Assistant Economic Development Director for the Arts Miah Michaelsen says the city decided to paint the traffic boxes for several reasons.
“They’re targets sometimes for graffiti, or tagging, or people put flyers on them and so forth,” she says. “So it was an opportunity to beautify that with some public art, at a modest budget, and give the community, a large community of artists, the chance to participate.”
Michaelsen says The Entertainment and Arts District began the program by commissioning specific artists for the boxes, but decided to open the project up to get more of the community involved.
“So if someone sees a box in their area that they’d like to adopt, they can contact us and propose a design,” Michaelsen says. “We’ll help a little bit with the cost of materials and then they’re able to paint it, and we have another great traffic box to add to our public art inventory.”
Indiana University freshman Emma Smedberg recently turned a traffic box on Third and Dunn into a four-sided painting of the seasons.
“Well I think I’m really honored to have a piece of my artwork up in Bloomington, I grew up in Bloomington, I’ve lived here all my life, and it makes me really happy to know that people drive by it,” she says.
The city’s art department says a few traffic boxes are still up for adoption. Those interested may contact the Bloomington Entertainment and Arts District office.