Michelle Farnsworth
 
 
    
 
Angie Swiec Kambeitz, "Delphinium," Broadway Ave. and Washington St. in Bismarck. (DeAnne Billings)
 
 

 
Lydia Richez-Bowman, "Summertime and Living," Fourth St. and Main Ave. in Bismarck. (DeAnne Billings)
 
 

 
Jacob Howell, Elysia Crockett and Ryan Kramer, part of the Clean Slate Group applying public art to utility boxes, stand behind "Big Sky over Bismarck" by Angie Swiec Kambeitz on Thayer Avenue in Downtown Bismarck. (Submitted)
 
 

How do you like to experience art? Is it while visiting a local art gallery or museum? Perhaps by meditating on a wall of your child's latest and greatest school creations?

One of my favorite ways to take in art is through nonconventional street art. Nothing thrills me more than catching a stunning mural that's been painted on a city wall or underpass. And the unexpected "yarn bomb" (when a talented soul knits a "sweater" for an inanimate object, such as a bike rack) warms my soul.

And now our very own Bismarck, North Dakota, is getting into the street art scene with the Bismarck BoxArt project, developed and implemented by the Dakota West Arts Council (DWAC) in partnership with the City of Bismarck.

BoxArt features high-resolution images of paintings, photographs and other art mediums by local and regional artists. The images are transferred onto a special 3-M adhesive product, like a giant sticker, to be wrapped around traffic signal boxes. Goodbye "street acne," hello beautiful art.

"This program took about two years to come to fruition," says Eileen Walsh, Dakota West Arts Council executive director. "I give credit to former DWAC board member, Cat McClintock, who brought the idea to the table."

"The BoxArt project is a fairly inexpensive way to bring public art back into a community," McClintock adds.

Another key player in the BoxArt project was former City Commissioner Brenda Smith, who got the paint flying in City Hall. Mayor Mike Seminary, Bismarck Traffic Engineer Mark Berg and Bismarck City Planner Jason Tomanek worked to introduce this type of street art to the masses.

The DWAC issued a "call for artists" in February 2015; from 28 submissions, 12 artists' work was selected. The Clean Slate Group from Bozeman, Montana, a city beautification company that specializes in wrapping utility boxes, installed the public art in September.

Each wrap includes a QR code, so when scanned, the artist's bio and description of the art can be immediately accessed.

The DWAC has big plans for the future and expects to cover at least 15 to 20 utility boxes. Sponsors are needed to cover the expenses of the project and to provide a small stipend for the artists.

"We want to show the diversity of not only Bismarck, but also the entire state of North Dakota," Walsh says.

If you are interested in seeing your talents displayed on the streets of Bismarck, another call for artists will go out in spring 2016. In the meantime, keep your eyes open for Bismarck's latest public art installations at a stoplight near you.

For more information and a complete list of BoxArt artists and locations, go to dakotawestarts.org.



 
Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.