Creating public art — at no cost to taxpayers

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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John Wayne, Clint Eastwood, Lee Marvin and other Western film icons are showing their faces at intersections throughout the city.

They are part of the Hollywood film cowboys art series that decorates 12 to 14 traffic signal boxes visible along North Richland Hills roadways. The program helps create a sense of place in the city, officials said.

“It’s fairly inexpensive,” said Vickie Loftice, managing director of community services. “It beautifies those gray metallic boxes. And it introduces art out into the public in a way that is non-threatening and is fun and playful.”

The program began in 2007 after Loftice saw it succeed in Santa Fe, N.M. Santa Fe provides teenagers and children with the chance to decorate traffic signal boxes as well as participate in other art projects, such as public murals. The program was launched in 1995 as a way to stem graffiti by channeling youths’ energy into something productive, according to the city’s Arts Commission.

In North Richland Hills, artists are typically paid up to $500, but the Hollywood cowboys series will cost the city nothing for the artwork. Sarah Green, the city’s cultural arts coordinator, has created the artwork at no cost to taxpayers.

“Since I’m a city employee, this is my gift to the city,” Green said.

Green creates the images on her computer. She then outputs them on vinyl adhesive used to cover the traffic signal boxes. Each piece takes about four to five days to produce, she said.

“I have to think about color,” Green said. “I have to think about the composition. It can take a while.”

City officials like to replace the artwork every two years to generate interest. Current traffic signal box artwork depicts themes that tie into the high schools, such as a stylized drawing of Birdville High School’s hawk mascot or in the case of Liberty Park, a flag. Some of the work will remain.

Green’s artwork is being displayed at a cost of about $4,000 for materials and for the time of the workers who placed many of the images on the traffic signal boxes last week.

Tina Earle, communications and events manager for the North Richland Hills Parks and Recreation Administration says the $4,000 comes from donations funneled through city utility bills. People have the option of donating money when they pay their water, sewer and trash bill.

Green said the current artworks used for the project come from an art show she produced in 2009.

“I’m fascinated with Hollywood, with classic film icons and what they mean to people,” Green said. “It’s a homage really to that star power.”

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