If you’ve spent any time driving around North Richland Hills, you’ve noticed the portraits of famous Cowboy film stars depicted on the side of traffic signal boxes here and there.
You could look at it as a traveling roadside art gallery, only you’re the one doing the traveling.
One of our favorites was Rebel Without a Cause actor James Dean (in Giant). And there was “the Duke,” John Wayne. The portraits made for eye-catching, not necessarily distracting, public art — an inspired use of otherwise bland industrial equipment.
Those portraits have “started riding off into the sunset,” according to the North Richland Hills Parks and Recreation Department. But don’t despair, they’re being replaced by those of famous musicians.
This month, the exhibit started featuring music legends Stevie Ray Vaughan (Mid Cities and Holiday Lane), Buddy Holly (Rodger Line Road and Boulevard 26), Jimi Hendrix (Rufe Snow and Stardust Drive), Prince (Emerald Hills and Davis) and, of course, Willie Nelson (Rufe Snow and Iron Horse).
Local artists design the artworks for the signal boxes, which are used for controlling traffic lights. The idea is to create a rotating outdoor gallery that changes about every three years. North Richland Hills has been at this since 2007.
“If it beautifies somebody’s commute, which can be pretty rough in the North Texas area, then Yea! — art is doing its job,” artist Sarah Green told CBSDFW.com in 2014.
A map on the North Richland Hills website shows the location for all the signal art boxes.
It’s not quite at Pokemon intensity but the display has drawn the attention of locals: