Generating traffic for art with traffic boxes

The Bristol Art Squad was responsible for Operation Storefront Art and Art to Fight Blight projects. Now, Bristol’s “cultural ninjas” are at it again.

Groundwork has been laid the past several months to transform a portion of the city’s gray rectangular traffic boxes at select intersections into works of art “that instill smiles, positive thoughts, and greater community connection to the city’s cultural assets,” said a press release from the Bristol Chamber of Commerce.

The Art Squad, supported by the Bristol Chamber of Commerce, entered into a partnership with the City of Bristol Police Department to paint the boxes. The squad identified roughly 22 viable boxes for art (in total there are 70 boxes in the City, half owned by the city and the other half owned by the state), with artists readying to paint 11 by the end of this fall in what is being called Operation Traffic Box Art’s first wave.

“The purpose is multi-faceted,” said Art Squad captain Ginger Grant in a press release. “The art will represent the great assets in our community in a vibrant manner, bringing our cultural personality to the forefront. To accomplish this, we assigned culturally relevant themes to certain box locations, so a box downtown may represent Muzzy Field and the Bristol Blues, while one in Forestville by Manross Library has a duck reading a book. It helps you stop and think about what’s in our community and invites you to participate. That’s what we want.”

“Fun, but meaningful,” said fellow Art Squad Captain Lindsay Vigue in the chamber press release.

Several years ago, Vigue helped gain approvals for a traffic box art project through City Council, only to see the project remain grounded. Now, with the Art Squad formed, the project is seeing new life. “It’s amazing to see the willingness from the city and chamber, the tenor is different this time around. These partnerships let us encourage others to create, to join the movement of bettering our city, to encourage connection with our cultural assets but also to embody the All Heart spirit to produce something either wholly unique or to support what’s already here. Our com­munity is strong, it’s passionate, and we want to grow that appeal.”