Boise is a city of art lovers. People are often surprised when visiting for the first time just how many art galleries, live theaters, and performing arts groups we have here. It’s part of what makes the city such a fantastic place to live and a delightful place to visit.
Arts are so integral to the Boise lifestyle that the city created a Department of Arts and History, one of the mandates of which is to promote and secure public art.
One of the most unique kinds of public art that has taken off recently in Boise is using traffic control boxes as canvases for individual artists to beautify a utilitarian, unattractive structure. You know traffic control boxes–those ugly eyesores on city corners that house the electrical controls for traffic lights and crossing signs. They’re everywhere, and they do nothing but sit there being ugly.
Until now. Boise artists can apply for a traffic box, and then the sky’s the limit.
In total, there are currently 30 traffic box art pieces in Boise. No doubt, that number will expand as more artists join the fun. Here are a few to whet your whistle:
Ben Love’s Boxwood transforms the plain white traffic box into an explosion of greenery, something we love in Idaho.
This cheerful mosaic piece by Anna Webb is one of my favorites. It looks like a typical mosaic at first, but there are symbols throughout that require more time to think through.
Okay, not every piece will appeal to everyone. This abstract piece by Byran Moore isn’t something I want to hang on my wall, but I have to give him kudos for his humorous and surprising visual impact, along with the title of the piece.
Patrick Kilby’s gas pump motif pays homage to the gas station that once sat on this corner. The Veltex sign still stands in front of a modern building of condos.
Appropriately, this traffic box appears on Capital Boulevard, just a few blocks from the Idaho Capitol, which features prominently in the art piece. Other landmarks create a fun sort of scavenger hunt for Boise visitors to locate.
The whimsy of this piece is certainly eye catching, especially as you drive by on your way to other places. It depicts various images of the Boise foothills, a famous view from everywhere in the city. You can make out snowflakes, flowers, or leaves changing colors.
In Boise, aka City of Trees, you don’t often see aspen trees. So this piece evokes another part of Idaho, maybe the Big Wood River area near Sun Valley. It’s a peaceful, calming image in the middle of the cityscape.
If you’d like to take a walk and view all the traffic box art, check out the Boise City Department of Arts and History for a map.