Gray utility boxes that usually blend into the urban landscape are getting a splash of color this week as part of the “Art While You Wait” project.
The project is a partnership between Color Carlisle and the Downtown Carlisle Association. Organizers also worked with Carlisle borough officials on the project.
Fifteen artists from the Carlisle area submitted proposals for the six utility boxes that will be painted this week, said Greg Guenther, director of Color Carlisle. The organization had hoped that local artists would step to the fore given the announced theme that called for images to reflect why people “Love Carlisle.”
The selected artists are Rob Davis, Cassie Lier, Dinela Dedic, Holly Cohick, Cassandra Silverman and Amie Bantz. The six traffic signal cabinets to be painted are at West High and North College streets, West High and North West streets, West High and North Pitt streets, High and Hanover streets, North Hanover and Louther streets and South Hanover and Pomfret streets.
Artists could begin painting on Saturday. While they do not have to paint during specific times, the artists have been asked to finish their work by the end of Summerfair.
The idea is that the live painting would be happening in the streets while people are walking around so they could stop and observe the artists while they are at work, Guenther said.
“It’s not a part of Summerfair, but it’s happening in relation to the events that are happening just because there’s going to be people who are being drawn those events,” he said.
By late afternoon Monday, Cohick had already put more than 13 hours into sketching out her homage to Carlisle’s food scene that features the famed hot-chee dog from the Hamilton, pizza, macrons and a variety of ethnic food.
She had been hoping she would be assigned the box diagonal from the Hamilton, and she got her wish.
“They (Color Carlisle) really like the box because it spoke to the foodies of the town. It’s something I thought everyone could relate to,” she said.
Cohick expects to put about 10 more hours into the artwork before it’s finished, but she’s excited about the work being done through the project.
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“I’m all for supporting the arts, and I’ve done different things in Carlisle,” she said.
Lier, who is painting on the box at High and College streets, said her project will celebrate an aspect of Carlisle that sometimes goes unnoticed. Her work, inspired by her participation in a clean-up project at LeTort Spring Run, will highlight the waterways around the town and the activities that people can do on or around them.
“People think of the college, the War College and car shows, but there’s so much to do on the water,” she said.
After watching what Color Carlisle had been doing in the community, Lier said she jumped at the chance to apply to have her art selected for inclusion in the project, which brings art to an already-existing surface that many would overlook as a potential canvas.
“It’s a really good idea,” she said.
Those who see the artists at work are welcome to talk to them about their work and vision for the project, Guenther said.
“I don’t want them to feel like they can’t interrupt because all the artists are aware that could possibly happen,” he said.
This is the second project for Color Carlisle. The first was a mural that was installed on the northern wall of Stock Hall at St. Paul’s Evangelical Lutheran Church at the corner of West Louther and North West streets. The mural was a collaboration between Color Carlisle and the Carlisle Area School District with artist Ophelia Chambliss as the artist in residence for the project.
The mural features images of landmarks like the Carlisle Theatre and the Old Courthouse, as well as images symbolic of the area’s agricultural heritage and the iconic red Adirondack chairs at Dickinson College.
“Our goal has always been that we get one project installed per year to keep momentum going,” Guenther said. “So far, we’re hitting that goal that we wanted to achieve, all supported by grassroots volunteers to create that public art conversation.”