Ithaca Times

21 Boxes: Artists color downtown Ithaca

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Posted: Wednesday, September 26, 2012 12:00 am

Public art is nothing new in Ithaca.

There have been plenty of installations — permanent and temporary — on downtown’s Commons. The walls of many buildings in Ithaca have been adorned with myriad murals and the city’s Public Art Commission has even persuaded governmental officials to OK such work on selected municipal edifices as well.

The latest public art to hit Ithaca may be the PAC’s greatest feat yet — sprucing up the plain, drab gray electrical boxes that can be found on many of downtown Ithaca’s street corners. Now, the electrical boxes owned by the City of Ithaca — 21 of them, hence the title of the PAC project “21 Boxes” — have been transformed into colorful, meaningful and artistic expressions for all to see. As you’ll be able to see in the following pages, the styles put forth by artists are widely ranging and offer a vast palette of visual stimulation. Even the most critical of eyes will be hard pressed not to find at least one box that is to their liking.

Two years ago, the Public Art Commission asked the city’s Board of Public Works for permission to include the 21 city-owned boxes in its list of approved municipially-owned surfaces for the mural program. After viewing examples of similar projects done in other cities, the BPW gave the go-ahead for the Public Art Commission to work with the city’s Planning Department and Department of Public Works for the electrical box project.

In April, the Public Art Commission put out a call to artists to submit their proposals for what they might want to put on an electrical box. Numerous submissions were sent it and, in May, the PAC announced that it had selected its 21 artists. Painting of the boxes commenced in August and work on most of the boxes has now been completed.

The artists of 21 Boxes (and the location of the corner of the streets where their work is displayed) are Phoebe Aceto (MLK & Aurora pole box), Mara Baldwin (MLK & Albany), Sean Chilson (MLK & Corn), Kellie Cox-Brady (Clinton & Albany), Ryan B Curtis (Court & Plain), Shira Evergreen (Court & Aurora pole box), Dusty Herbig (Clinton & Cayuga), Kaleb Hunkele (Thurston & University), Ann Krajewski (MLK & Cayuga pole box), Rob Licht (Creek walk behind the library), Jocelyn Lutter (Tioga & Court pole box), Ryan McGuire (Buffalo & Cayuga), Alice Mulback (Buffalo & Albany), Eder Muniz (Buffalo & Tioga), Kurt Piller (Buffalo & Aurora), Jackie Richardson (MLK & Geneva), Kadie Salfi (MLK & Giles/Cornell), Joshua Sperling (College & Dryden), Oona Stern (Court & Cayuga pole box), Jay Stooks (Buffalo & Plain) and Gerry Walsh (MLK & Plain).

The Public Art Commission is continuing to seek out other opportunities for public art projects throughout the City of Ithaca. Artists may work by themselves, as a team or with community organizations to come up with ideas.

Community members and organizations that wish to sponsor a mural or artists that wish to submit proposals to help beautify the community may contact PAC members Caleb Thomas (273-5242), Sally Grubb (279-9189) or Jay Potter (351-7611), or email

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