Traffic Box Art at Eighth and Cherry streets set to be put up this summer

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COLUMBIA - The Commission on Cultural Affairs Standing Committee on Public Art made its selection for a new art piece Wednesday; an installation for the corner of Eighth and Cherry streets.

Brittany Williamson, an art teacher at Hallsville High School, was chosen to paint the box this year.

After finding out her submission was picked, she said she visited the traffic box and got the inspiration for her design from seeing all of the dogs walking around the area. 

"The dogs on the design are either modeled after my own dogs or my best friend's dogs. I asked the Columbia Humane Society the most common dogs found in Columbia so I could represent the city as well," Williamson said. 

Williamson said she will paint her box by using a vinyl wrap as opposed to painting directly on the box. She said, she will paint on a canvas at home, have it professionally photographed and put on vinyl.

Last year's chosen artist for the Ninth and Walnut Street traffic box, Madeleine LeMieux, said the project is a wonderful opportunity for artists.

"I think it's great when we can put art in public spaces and people can happen upon it instead of having to go to a gallery or museum to see it, because it makes art a part of their daily lives. It's a really great program for a city the size of Columbia; there is not a lot of public art programs in smaller towns," LeMieux said.

Missouri artists have been painting the boxes for ten years.

"The Traffic Box Art started in 2007 on Ninth and Broadway," said Sarah Dresser, Program Specialist for the City of Columbia Office of Cultural Affairs. "A lot of the boxes were being tagged with graffiti and stickers. Our office thought one way to help with this was to allow the boxes to be turned into works of art."

Dresser said, besides abating graffiti downtown, decorating the boxes enhances the landscape and gives artists a chance to showcase their work. 

The cultural affairs office gets about 10 to 15 artist proposals for designs every year, Dresser said.

The committee looks at how the work addresses the downtown Columbia vibrancy and how it incorporates the life there, she said. The office also wants designs that have as little blank space as possible to discourage graffiti. 

Dresser said the typical budget for each box is $500 for reimbursement to the artist and a $1500 honorary. 

She said the finalized design should be approved by the city around the end of May.