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13 Works of Art… On Traffic Signal Boxes

July 17th, 2013

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals
In 2013 I gave myself a photo assignment: Take 13 snapshots of 13 different subjects. Early on, someone suggested I do a series of traffic signal boxes – you know, the ones with the murals painted on them? At first I thought the idea was a little too obvious. I also thought many of the murals to be a little cliché. But soon I began to notice these things everywhere I looked. And then I felt like I couldn’t not do it.

While they may not be master works of art, these murals are definitely a unique part of our landscape. Some of them are kind of folksy; some are tongue-in-cheek; and many tell a story about the neighborhood. So, with the help of my friend Nicholas Swann external link, here are 13 of our favorite murals on traffic signal boxes…

Oh, and you’ll notice an extra one at the end. I’ve decided to paint one in my own neighborhood. You can tell me what you think…

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: Nicholas Swann]
Basketball Kid. West Main & Genesee St.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: Nicholas Swann]
Paisley. Location unknown.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: Nicholas Swann]
Frederick Douglass and his printing press. West Main at Chili Ave. and West Ave.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Praying for peace. Hudson and Clifford Ave.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals
Believe. North Clinton and Clifford Ave.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Puerto Rico (featuring Cocquí external link). North Clinton and Upper Falls Blvd.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Teamwork. Avenue A and Saint Paul Street at School #8.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
American Gothic (with pooper scooper). Hudson Ave. at Irondequoit Animal Hospital.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Unite. Mount Hope and Averill Ave.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Break Glass In Case of Zombies. Emergency zombie station at Mount Hope and Cypress St.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: RochesterSubway.com]
Cornhill Pictographs. Ford and Exchange Streets.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: Nicholas Swann]
Young Hippie. Location unknown.

13 Traffic Signal Box Murals. [PHOTO: Nicholas Swann]
Grow Where You’re Planted. By Krysia Mnick. 2007. Location unknown. Krysia’s working on a new one external link now in the Park Ave neighborhood.

Now, here’s my concept for a new one near an elementary school in my own neighborhood…

Concept for a new mural near an elementary in my neighborhood. [IMAGE: RochesterSubway.com]

If you would like to paint one of these boxes, contact Thomas Cesario in the permits department at (585) 753-7711. You’ll need to submit sketches of your concept (all sides including the top). If your concept is approved, you’ll need to pay for the “special” paint and your own supplies. I’m told this can cost as much as $300. But contact your neighborhood association first – they may be able to help out. Go create something!

• • •


About Nicholas Swann:

Nicholas is into acting and photography. He says he recently spent a couple of years on 2 photo projects here in the city and also had a lead role in a movie filmed here, “Fritz” (to be released this fall). It’ll be seen and entered in all the film festivals around the country. Nicholas thanks to Robbi Gurell for his coaching and training and says, “He brought me into the social media age.” You can follow Nicholas is also an CNN iReporter. Follow him here, and on Twitter.

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, July 17th, 2013 at 1:05 am and is filed under Art + Culture, Rochester Images. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

16 Responses to “13 Works of Art… On Traffic Signal Boxes”

  1. Peter says:

    Why is the basketball kid at the Egyptian Pyramids? Seems like a hot place to play basketball

  2. Scott says:

    I love the boxes! Thank you!

  3. andy says:

    My favorite is the Morrison Park box. You don’t even know it is a box! Painted by local artist Dick Lubey

    http://www.waymarking.com/waymarks/WMDB3A_Morrison_Park_Rochester_NY

  4. Ooh, that IS a good one. Too good. I went right by it and didn’t see it!

  5. Mittens says:

    Haha. Good job Dick Lubey! I actually had to stop and touch that box a few months back just to make sure it wasn’t really made of stone.

  6. Nicholas A. Swann says:

    The Rochester Subway is a great part of the Social Media age. I was honored to be asked to participate in part of this project. I hope to work with Mike again! Nice job Mike..

  7. Carl says:

    This is awesome people of Rochester!

  8. Steve says:

    I saw a couple more that are not listed.
    I will try to go back and take a picture.

  9. Rottenchester says:

    The traffic box at South & Gregory is a nice one.

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/experimentalfilm/9314250821/

  10. Chris Brandt says:

    The Mt. Hope cemetery one is priceless!

  11. Rottenchester says:

    South & Gregory pic is Duke Ellington.

  12. Krysia Mnick says:

    Nice shots, guys – but hey! – Name the artists!
    I’ll help, plus some history:

    the ones named here are the results of an initiative in 2007 spurred by Sector 4 Community Development Corporation. Then-Director John Borek and I co-wrote a grant proposal and received the Culture Builds Communities grant to paint 17 boxes by six artists on the west side of the river, from Main St. south to Elmwood. The goal was to prevent graffiti, instill neighborhood pride, and employ professionals for the work. That spurred the rest of the city. The pieces for the Sector 4 project were ALL designed and selected with neighborhood input and city and county permission. The artists were professionally compensated for their work – and the supplies. If you’d like to know more about the project, message me at facebook. Subsequent projects have been paid for by neighborhood associations and the City – ARTISTS MUST BE PAID and neighbors should have buy-in, at least by neighborhood leaders. Meanwhile, here’s artists and locations of the ones I know about:

    Basketball boy: Athesia Benjamin, corner of W. main & Genesee

    Paisley Dance: Krysia Mnick, corner of Genesee & Hawley St, across from Wilson Commencement

    Frederick Douglass: Kevin Fitch (also did Susan B. Anthony on W. Main and Erie Canal on Genesee at Brooks

    Four Seasons in the Neighborhood at Ford St. Bridge: Catherine Leyland

    Peace Man: Darren Brennessel at Sawyer and Genesee

    Grow Where You’re Plantedby Krysia Mnick is on Elmwood Ave. at S. Plymouth, across from the entrance to Genesee Valley Park.

    And BTW, the portrait at Gregory and South is Son House – NOT Duke Ellington – by “Theivin’ Steven” Dorbiola.

  13. Thanks Krysia! Beautiful work!

  14. UPDATE: Monroe County asked me to update the contact info. If you would like to paint one of these boxes, you should contact Thomas Cesario in the permits department at (585) 753-7711.


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