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New Westminster brightens up its boxes
Richard Armstrong, president of New West Artists (NWA), was walking up Eighth Street to the SkyTrain station the other day and in the short time it took him to get from Columbia to Carnarvon, five people had stopped to look at the NWA works of art displayed on an electrical power box at the corner of Eighth and Carnarvon.
“It looks great,” said Armstrong. “I saw one woman take out her phone and take a picture of it. Even if you’re 100 feet away and looking around it grabs your attention.”
The box is the first of up to 10 in the city expected to display NWA work as part of an anti-graffiti compaign.
City arts and culture development director Greg Magirescu said the city’s electrical utility had been wrapping boxes for many years using stock images. But Magirescu felt while flower patterns might look all right in a park setting, they don’t necessarily work in context of the concrete jungle.
His first experiment was to put pictures of dogs owned by city residents on two boxes. More than 200 photos were submitted, and he’s still getting them. One of the boxes near Royal Columbian Hospital was vandalized the first night.
Magirescu said he loves the work NWA is doing in producing art and promoting local artists, so he approached the organization.
“It’s a great idea,” said Armstrong.
He had seen a few other boxes around town with pictures of people’s dogs on them and he felt the photos were too small. So when he sent out emails to NWA’s 106 members he asked for something to make people stop on the sidewalk, just like Armstrong witnessed the other day.
“Go for a stark picture, like a tree on a landscape or bird in the air, because those are the ones that stand out well,” said Armstrong. “They turned out quite well.”
The box at Eighth and Carnarvon is covered in 22 pictures done by 19 artists. Some are photos, others are paintings with each having the artist identified. The boxes also have the colourful NWA logo at the top and the city’s at the bottom.
“It turned out beautifully,” said Magirescu.
The rest of the boxes will have different themes to it. The next one, said Armstrong, will have strange and quirky pictures. “We want to really be more striking with the next one.”
Magirescu said a location hasn’t been chosen because he wants to pick a site that suits the art work. Others will be introduced gradually.
“My thought is to have them pop up slowly and inconspicuously at first, and as we get more of them done people will begin to notice them and take pride in them,” said Magirescu.
The goal, he said, is for New West residents to take pride and ownership in the art.
Each wrap costs about $900 said Magirescu which mainly comes out of the utility’s budget for anti-graffiti measures with the rest coming from his department’s.