By Nancy R. Elliott
The Herald Bulletin
---- — ANDERSON — Green. Yellow. Red.
Next time you’re sitting at a traffic light in downtown Anderson, you might notice the unremarkable gray box near the intersection that controls the light.
It’s not going to be unremarkable for long. The city is launching a new program that will not only jazz up the boxes, it’s intended to light a fire under artists, downtown businesses and residents.
“It’s just another creative initiative that engages residents, engages the town, and beautifies it,” said artist Levi Rinker.
On the heels of the successful Walking Man project created by Rinker and Laree Blazer, Rinker recently took on the job of working foreman at the City of Anderson’s Parks and Recreation Department with beautification on his mind.
Rinker and the rest of the city’s Beautification Committee are looking for submissions of proposals for original designs that artists will paint onto the traffic boxes. The sky’s the limit as long as submissions are appropriate for public display.
The city’s Beautification Committee will review proposals and award the projects. Artists will then draft their projects onto the boxes and lay on the paint.
“I think it’s a really creative idea. I think it will be fun for people, and a creative way for artists to get their works presented,” said Anderson’s First Lady and chair of the city’s Beautification Committee, Anita Smith.
Sponsors are currently being solicited. Many of them are likely to be the downtown businesses that are going to be impacted by the project. The project has three levels of sponsorship, from $1,000 to $2,000, with the potential to raise anywhere from $32,000 to $64,000 for the parks.
Once the traffic boxes are painted, a whole new phase of fun begins. That’s when residents and visitors get in on the act, with a photo treasure hunt to collect stamps at the various sponsoring businesses. Each box will have a bumper sticker that declares who its sponsor is, as well as the name of the artist.
“It’s a fun activity for parents and grandparents with kids,” said Rinker.
Check out a traffic box, snap a picture on your phone or camera, then show it to the sponsoring business to collect a passport stamp.
“We want to see more pedestrian traffic downtown, more incentive for businesses to look downtown,” said Rinker. He also noted that the traffic box artwork beautifies downtown Anderson, strengthens its identity, and serves to deter graffiti.
Funds raised through the sponsorships will support the artist’s work on a traffic box and more.
“We’re looking at getting new banners… to help brand the city a little more,” said Rinker. Those banners would go up at various locations like city entryways or bridges. Rinker said a portable sandblaster unit for the parks department would also be a big help toward eliminating graffiti.
Finally, funds would support the addition of a fountain to the park at 14th and Main in front of the school of dance that was once the Big Four train depot.
Rinker said he’s anxious to see sponsors start jumping on board to the project. He has already received about 10 submissions of proposed art. 32 traffic boxes are up for grabs this year. Rinker said there is a total of 99 boxes, so there’s room to expand the program in the future.
The Traffic Box project is one of several initiatives the Beautification Committee is currently driving. They have also launched programs to involve people in adopting a traffic island, helping to clean parks, donating to the flower basket fund and promoting public art. Another project is Tree Anderson Initiative, with a goal of planting 5,000 trees by June 30, 2016.
“We’re really trying to make a difference. There’s plenty to do and plenty of opportunity to get involved,” said Smith.
For more information about the Traffic Box project, how to sponsor, or how to submit a design, check out www.beautifyanderson.org. The city’s other initiatives can also be found on the site.
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Get involved What: Traffic Box Art project Who: Artists with design proposals and sponsors to help fund the initiative When: Get on board now Where: Downtown Anderson More info: Check out the website www.beautifyanderson.org.