Round 3 of New High Voltage Art Decorates City

By at August 31, 2017 | 3:00 pm | Print


The third round of High Voltage Art is in the works and will see 14 traffic control boxes painted around the City. The Arts Commission will be doing another Call for Artists (round 4) in a few weeks.

The program by Mayor Erin E. Stewart and the New Britain Commission on the Arts, calls for artists to help beautify the City by turning traffic light control boxes into works of art.

There are more than 70 traffic light control boxes around the city, some of which are owned by the state of Connecticut or are set to be removed or replaced during upcoming construction projects. In all, there are 41 boxes that the Arts Commission hopes to have turned into art.

The first area that underwent the transformation were five control boxes on Broad Street. Since then it has expanded across the City.

“The High Voltage Art program is aimed at turning utility boxes into professionally painted works of art that contribute to the beautification of our city, deter graffiti, and add a bit of color to our urban landscape,” said Mayor Stewart. “We’ve had a lot of sponsors for these. Our local artists love it. We have some awesome designs.”

In round 3 five local artists are painting the boxes.

On Black Rock Ave. and Hartford Square the theme is women at work. Women were crucial in the early founding of New Britain and are rarely mentioned. Artist Mesh Rowe is building on that theme.

Rala Salpiano is doing a box on West Main St., near Vine and Curtis St. The theme will be The Spirit of the Bee.

Joshua Vidot is painting one on the corner of West Main St., Park Place and Russell St. It will be a colorful Beehive.

On West Main St. and Lincoln, Elizabeth Ann McNally painted a cool cat.

The last one is on Stanley and Chestnut St., by Emily Bronson.

“It is exciting. It has been growing,” Stewart said. “There is a lot of talk about it.”

Artists are given up to a $300 stipend from funds that are raised through donations from businesses and community organizations.

The High Voltage Art program, organized by the New Britain Commission on the Arts, is geared towards the recognition and celebration of local artists. Through High Voltage Art, artists are asked to paint City of New Britain utility boxes with original designs. Once professionally painted, these utility boxes in neighborhood business districts will contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of the urban streetscape and deter graffiti.

Artists must be residents of Connecticut, though special consideration will be given to New Britain artists. Artists will be required to submit up to three design proposals. The commission is encouraging artists that submit designs that incorporate the historical, cultural, and geographic importance of the signal control box’s location.

Artists must avoid dark palettes in order to prevent boxes from overheating in the sun.

Designs may be representational or abstract but must respond to the urban context and be appropriate given the location and audience (no profanity or nudity).

Utility box size may vary; selected artists must be willing to adjust designs to their particular box.

Preferences for specific boxes and/or neighborhood will be considered, but cannot be guaranteed. The utility boxes must be scraped, cleaned and primed before the artists begin painting. The City suggests taping over functional areas and spaying automobile primer. Only durable materials may be used in the creation of the artwork.

The artwork may be removed and/or destroyed at any time without notification of the artist to accommodate utility box replacement.

Residents or businesses who would like to donate can send a check to the Mayor’s Office, 27 West Main St., New Britain, CT, 06051. In the memo section, write “High Voltage Art.”

Selections will be made by the New Britain Commission on the Arts in consultation with the Mayor’s Office. Artists can submit their design proposals on a rolling basis. Applications can be found at and clicking “Documents,” then “Boards and Commissions” and then “Arts.”


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