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Unexpected Art In North Richland Hills

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Emily Trube KRLD Emily Trube
  Emily Trube started a career in broadcast journalism in 2003, after...
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(Credit: Emily Trube, KRLD)

NORTH RICHLAND HILLS (KRLD’S YOUR HOMETOWN) – You see them all the time – the gray switch boxes at intersections. In North Richland Hills, they thought, “Why not put some color on them?”

In 2007, the city of North Richland Hills launched the Signal Box public art project, and turned 13 intersections into canvases.

“An outdoor gallery, if you will,” says Vickie Loftice, Managing Director of Community Services. “It was accessible and it was unexpected. There is a sense of discovery.”

Artists were commissioned to create works for the projects, including some well-known names. Donna Howell-Sickles’ “And the Cowgirl Jumped Over the Moon” is displayed on the signal box at Boulevard 26 and Glenview Drive. You can find Lori Newman’s “The Fridge” outside Smithfield United Methodist Church.

It looks as if the art pieces were painted on by hand, but they weren’t.

“It is a 3M product, it is an adhesive that we actually adhere to the boxes,” says Loftice.

Tasked with turning a one-dimensional painting into a four-sided work of art is Sarah Green, who is the city’s Cultural Arts Coordinator.

“Art creates beauty and a sense of pride in civic life,” says Green. “When people see a beautiful piece of artwork in their city, they take pride in that area. It uplifts areas.”

Green is also an artist. Her Hollywood Cowboys series will be featured next month.

Public art projects can be expensive – this one is surprisingly affordable. Loftice says that it costs about $5,000 to wrap all thirteen boxes in art. Some artists donate their work, while others are paid a fee. The Signal Box project is funded through the city’s donation fund.

“Citizens have an opportunity to contribute to the donation fund on their water bill. A portion of that goes to cultural arts,” says Loftice, “so it’s by donations from our citizens.”

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