New Britain City Journal

New Britain's Weekly Online Newspaper

Feature News

Mayor Presents: “High Voltage Art” Program

The City plans to spiff up a few intersections by turning traffic light control boxes into works of art.

The program by Mayor Erin E. Stewart and the New Britain Commission on the Arts, calls for artists to help beautify 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.

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 will undergo the transformation are five control boxes on Broad Street.

To kick off the project, Mayor Stewart will make a $1,000 contribution from the Mayor’s Trophy Charitable Fund.

Artists will be given up to a $250 stipend from funds that are raised through donations from businesses and community organizations.

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.

The Common Council approved the resolution for this project last week.

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. The deadline to apply for the first round is Oct. 25, 2015. Applications can be found at and clicking “Documents,” then “Boards and Commissions” and then “Arts.”