PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — At the intersection of clunky and creative, there’s an opportunity for artists, and people in the community in need of a good scavenger hunt.
Palm Beach County Art in Public Places has a new round of “Outside the Box” public art pieces, now open to applications from professional, emerging and student artists. The deadline to apply is Feb. 26 at 5 p.m.
Traffic signal boxes are typically gray and boring. This project transforms them into eye-catching works of art across municipal and unincorporated portions of Belle Glade, Pahokee and South Bay. The artists are given site-specific directives, so they are inspired by the communities, histories and natural environments in those areas. The work may be abstract or representational, it’s up to the artist.
“We get to humanize the built environment, right? We get to make our streetscapes come to life with art that reveals the stories of place, of people, past and present,” explained Elayna Toby Singer of Palm Beach County Art in Public Places.
Artist Renata Rodrigues was one of 12 artists chosen to create a piece in the first phase of the project. Through her personal research, she found a connection to the Belle Glade area and discovered it was a good challenge.
“For example, sugar cane, I’m Brazilian. I love sugar cane, I love to drink sugar cane juice. So good for your health. And nature, nature is my main passion in my life and it’s present in all my artwork,” Rodrigues said.
The artists can use any medium they want, because the work will be photographed and turned into a vinyl, four-sided wrap to go around the traffic box. Participating artists will get to keep their artwork.
“You’re creating one artwork, but it’s not on a straight plane, It moves right? With these four sides,” explained Singer.
Even if your artwork isn’t typically built to survive the elements, Singer says it will be translated to vinyl, making it possible for even a watercolor artist or screen printer to get their work on the intersection.
“The region looks more human, more warm and it’s awesome I love it, I’m very proud of it,” Rodrigues said.
Artists will also find an opportunity for enrichment, exposure and some extra cash in their pocket. Up to 46 artists will be shortlisted based on their applications and will receive $250 to develop their concept art proposal. Based off of that, up to 23 artists will be chosen as finalists and awarded an additional $750 to complete their design. The pieces will be installed on up to 23 boxes in spring of 2022, and an exhibition will be presented in winter 2023.
“I loved it, I think it actually got me to more participate in public art. Especially now that not many people are viewing our work, because you know, not many gallery shows you know it’s a bit of a weird time,” Rodrigues said.
Rodrigues typically participates in large events like SunFest and Garlic Fest. Currently during the pandemic it’s been challenging for get fresh eyes on her work. She’s discovered a new appreciation for participating in public art.
“And Outside the Box really opened my mind like wow, public art, it’s where it’s at, because so many people who don’t go to galleries you kind of get a different public too. Many people that wouldn’t see my work otherwise,” Rodrigues said.