Grand Prairie is on the hunt for Texas artists to help transform lackluster traffic signal boxes into vibrant works of art.
This year, the themes are “Celebrate the Environment” and “Celebrate Literacy and Libraries.” Artists from across the state can submit original work in the categories until 5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22, for a chance to win.
The city’s public art program aims to award up to 22 commissions, worth as much as $2,000 each, depending on whether the concepts will be painted directly onto the metal traffic signal boxes or wrapped with vinyl, high-resolution, digitally printed images.
“In addition to our Celebrating Literacy and Libraries theme, we are seeking to add layers of meaning to our project by using Celebrating the Environment theme again,” says public art coordinator Tammy Chan. “Grand Prairie — the city and the citizens — really care about the environment.”
Chan says the Friends of the Library will fund two of the traffic signal boxes this year.
The city strives to make the project “as diverse, equitable and inclusive as possible,” Chan says. Last year’s contest winners included a disabled artist, an 81-year-old photographer, a 13-year-old student from Grand Prairie ISD Fine Arts Academy and 14 artists who had never won a public arts commission.
“These artists and their artworks were very well-received last year,” Chan says. “We are excited to see the results from this year’s project.”
The artworks will be installed in every council district, and people from all across the city can participate in choosing the winning entries, Chan says.
With Texas’ vast environment, there’s a lot of inspiration. Some suggestions from the city webpage include outdoorsy images of Texas bugs, native wildflowers, gardening or fresh fruit and vegetables. Other landscape and nature scenes to be considered are prairies, hiking, fishing or animals, as well as monarch butterflies and caterpillars. Creeks and water-related themes are also encouraged, along with litter prevention and energy-related topics.
While entries for the Celebrating Literacy and Libraries category should not include images of people, they could playfully expand upon the library’s mission: “To provide free and equal access to connections, discovery and education for everyone regardless of age, income or background.”
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The project, which has resulted in scenes of nature and wildlife along Grand Prairie’s roadsides, has generated a lot of interest. To help aspiring artists, there’s a how-to video on the city’s website along with application forms, templates and artist packets.
“The project will brighten city streetscapes, enhance community pride and create new, paid opportunities for Texas-based artists,” according to the website.
Local photographer Gary Kelly, who entered images of water and some vintage, wooden Texas windmills, is among other Texas artists whose work can now be seen along Grand Prairie’s roadways.
For more information about the project, visit www.gptx.org.