Painting Outside the Box
Artist Veronica Funk kept a journal of her experience turning a plain traffic utility box on Main Street into an original work of art.
I have admired the painted utility boxes in Calgary for several years, so when I originally saw the call for Sherry Shaw-Froggatt’s painted utility box project in Airdrie, an Awesome Airdrie winning idea, I was thrilled.
For the past two years my work has focused on the influence of the aboriginal culture which is the heart of our country. This work is a reference to the history of the area, including both animals and arrowheads, and Nose Creek, which has been a vital part of the community.
Sept. 4, 2012: Beginning….
The first layer of warm colours is on the utility box project on Main Street and although my hands were freezing from those gale-force winds I cannot wait to get back tomorrow to add a layer of cool colours. It was so nice to hear encouraging comments from both drivers and pedestrians. I’m working in oils, which is a bit of a challenge as I haven’t used them in a few years, but the effect is perfect.
Sept. 6, 2012: More layers….
It was so much nicer to work without extreme wind conditions today, although I forgot how physically taxing a large art project is – I’ll be in desperate need of a massage when I’m done. But it has been an absolutely amazing process.
Today a number of people stopped by to chat and take photos. A gentleman from Poland spoke of how public art has been successful, changing the face of vandalism in Europe while giving the creative people an opportunity to share their gifts. An elderly lady asked if I might stop by her complex and add colour to their building (I suggested the landlord might not be impressed). A little girl apparently stops by every day to see the progression. Others told me that they voted for my design, for which I am extremely grateful. Someone else stopped by to tell me he has taken to walking down Main Street just to see it.
I’ve been asked for my inspiration and about my history in this community. I’m so pleased to be in a place that is honouring its arts community. I’m so grateful for the people [with whom] I have the privilege of sharing my community. And I’m so glad to call this home. Tomorrow I begin adding symbols and imagery … very excited for the next step!
Sept. 7, 2012: Two steps forward….
Another exhausting and exhilarating day at the utility box. Many more great conversations on the street and one side is almost totally complete. I’m thinking the other three will go a bit faster as I will mix the last two colours I need before I go – a nice light turquoise and a deep rich navy blue. And I am so grateful to my friend Sherry Shaw-
Froggatt for this opportunity and for the green-tea latte – it kept me going until mid-afternoon. Another treat was speaking with Zach Abbott, who was adding graffiti to Sully Boardsports down the street. I love my town.
Sept. 11, 2012: Finished!
I have worked under almost every weather condition on this project, but it has been such an honour for me to be selected that it’s actually been a pleasure. Tomorrow I’ll stop by to see if it needs any final touches and then in a couple of days I’ll give the piece a final coat of varnish.
I feel really honoured to be part of a growing arts community and especially grateful to have had this opportunity to share my work in the place I have chosen to call home and where I have raised my family. It was a real pleasure to interact with people on the street while I worked. It feels as though Airdrie is really on the cusp of more great and positive change and I am so pleased to be able to contribute in a small way.