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Public art project will beautify
yellow utility boxes in Malden

Posted by Alix Roy  January 22, 2010 11:00 AM

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Malden HIgh.jpg

A switchbox across the street from Malden High School will be painted by a local artist in the spring.

Come spring, local artists will transform a dozen chipping yellow utility boxes into colorful works of public art, thanks to the efforts of Malden ARTS cofounder Naomi Brave.

After watching similar projects pop up in Somerville, Cambridge, and Boston, Brave approached the city last fall with a proposal to brighten up the neighborhood while showcasing local talent. She secured unanimous approval from the City Council and a grant from the Malden Cultural Council that will allow painters to be compensated for their work.

Now all she has to do is round up some artists.

Brave plans to put out an official call for residents with artistic talents in the next few weeks. Interested parties can find the application online at Designs must be approved by the city before artists can begin working.

Brave, a ceramic artist, has worked for over three years on the Window Arts project, which brings public art to store windows for the month of September. The switchbox project appealed to her because of its permanence, she said.

"I love working on [window arts] but it just seems so fleeting," she said. "I tried to think of something that would be more lasting."

The 12 switchboxes selected for the project's first round are scattered throughout the city and represent a range of sizes. Some of the smaller boxes are mounted on poles and others are tucked into hard-to-reach corners. All are positioned near intersections, some of which could use a splash of color, Brave said.

"There are couple of them at such bleak little intersections," she said, adding that these same locations provide a great venue for artists to show off their work. "I think it's a win-win situation."

Local jeweler and painter Ginny Remedi expressed support for the project on Thursday from Idea 5 Artist Studios on Pleasant Street.

"I think it's a great idea," she said. "I'm all for it."

Artists whose designs are approved will receive a $150 honorarium. Brave hopes to begin painting in April or May and will accept applications on a rolling basis through October.

Below is the press release from Malden Arts:

The grassroots organization Malden Arts is launching a new public art program in Malden. The “switchbox project’ will pair local artist’s work with the metal utility boxes at lighted intersections throughout the city, with the purpose of beautifying the city
 and showcasing the arts. Approved artists will receive a $150 stipend to paint their art on the switchbox.

Any artist who lives or works in Malden is eligible to apply for a box. This project is a great way to give their community a sense of 
warmth and personality, while getting their art out there.

Working with a detailed map of all of the eligible switchboxes in the city, Malden Arts and the City of Malden will individually 
match each artist with a switchbox of their choosing. Each decision is based on several factors including the need and visibility of the site 
and the best fit between artist and location. Artists can request specific boxes, but the match is not guaranteed.

Picture and locations of eligible boxes, along with an application can be found at the Malden Arts website: or contact Naomi Brave at 781-330-9053

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