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Art Adorns City's Utility Poles

Friday, July 28, 2017

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Springfield, Missouri, has seen a profusion of artfully painted poles, and more are on the way, according to KSMU Radio.

Moon City—which is a blossoming haven for artists along the city’s north side, and serves as live-work community—is home to many of the decorated utility poles, which were part of a collaborative endeavor between the district and city utilities, said Phyllis Ferguson, one of the event coordinators for the initial paint-a-pole event in 2014.

"Why poles? Well, poles are everywhere," Ferguson said. "They are not the most beautiful thing in our sight when we look around, so we decided to paint the poles."

Pole Portraits

One of the more recognizable poles was painted to reference Andy Warhol’s Campbell's soup label prints, some of which were stolen from the Spingfield Art Museum last year.

“We found them—so to speak—and located them here on a utility pole in Lafayette Park,” artist Steve Miller told KSMU.

Linda Passeri, the artist who originally painted the Warhol-inspired pole, had also painted 12 other poles of the total 130 that have been decorated to date. This veritable forest of artwork serves to define the Moon City Creative District from the rest of Springfield, and the poles themselves feature artwork that range from nature scenes to commemorations of community pride. Covering 10 city blocks all told, the sprawling artwork installation both delineates the boundaries of the district and acts as an outdoor art gallery, noted Passeri.

“I love it. The first thing I saw was the pole,” Andrew Batcheller, an artist who both lives in Joplin and serves on its regional artists coalition, told KSMU. “We don’t have anything like that in Joplin—we have thousands and thousands of ugly poles. I want to take it to Joplin, and we’re going to do it.”

On Miller’s property, there are also a number of signs pointing in different directions, all indicating the way to various artistic destinations, from Austin, Texas, (615 miles) to Eureka Springs, Arkansas, (88 miles). Then there’s one that’s special: Fernwood, Victoria, British Columbia: 2,100 miles—the inspiration for the Moon City pole painting project.

Artistic Inspiration

Artists in Fernwood had painted around 300 of their own utility poles, noted the Springfield News-Leader.

According to Ferguson, residents of Victoria began to see less graffiti on the city's utility poles, since artists seemed to respect and appreciate the work that went into beautifying them.

"The more people see public art, the more they appreciate public art. And it just makes people happy. It improves quality of life, just to have art in our everyday," Passeri said. "When you get in your car and you are driving to work and you see a pole painted with some flowers—it just makes your day better."

Another benefit of the public artwork? Traffic seemed to have calmed down somewhat due to drivers slowing down to look at the art.

The artists of Moon City were hoping for the same added benefit in their own township.

To fund the project for the Moon City district, Healthy Living Alliance provided a $2,000 grant to buy paint and supplies, and Mexican Villa also contributed supplies.

The next painting of the poles will take place in October.


Tagged categories: Artists; Infrastructure; NA; North America; Paint analysis; Paint application; Program/Project Management

Comment from M. Halliwell, (7/28/2017, 11:21 AM)

Reminds me of all the painted telephone, traffic light control and transformer boxes around Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.

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