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October 02, 2013
Drab metal utility boxes become canvases for public art in collaboration with University Circle Incorporated.
By Ann McGuire
The drive through University Circle on Euclid Avenue just got a little more characterful.
In a collaboration with University Circle Incorporated dubbed ArtBox Project, eight CIA Illustration majors created the artworks that now decorate 22 utility boxes on Euclid between E. 105th and E. 123rd streets.
The illustrations are all based on a theme chosen by UCI: scenes from Cleveland and University Circle between the 1920s and the 1960s. A local printer, Central Graphics of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, printed the illustrations on durable adhesive film, which was carefully wrapped around the boxes in late September.
Assistant Professor Larry O'Neal managed the collaboration for CIA. “This was a pretty ambitious project. Students had the challenge of coming up with concepts that fit under this umbrella theme of retro University Circle and they really researched the concepts.” For instance, one illustration refers to University Circle’s former Elysium, built in 1907 and once the largest indoor ice rink in the world.
O’Neal, who teaches in both Illustration and Graphic Design and chairs the Graphic Design Department, has extensive experience in art direction. He involved students from both disciplines: Illustration students through the Community Projects course and Graphic Design students through the Advanced Studio course. The Graphic Design students designed the identifying bands at the base of each box that credit UCI, CIA, and the individual student artists.
In total, UCI approved 15 scenes, which were affixed to 22 different boxes, some of which are double boxes. The project was implemented in coordination with the City of Cleveland and the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority, both of which approved of the images.
"Working on ArtBox was a rewarding, professional learning experience for our students,” said CIA President Grafton Nunes, who was instrumental in promoting the collaboration. “Assignments of this nature are part and parcel of the Cores + Connections academic vision of CIA, in which our students learn first hand how to apply their talents, communication skills, and ideas to producing meaningful products for their clients. The bonus in this case is that they are adding color and visual interest to our arts-focused neighborhood."
The ArtBox Project is part of UCI's Euclid Gateway Vision campaign, which has brought more than $7 million in public improvements to the district. Included in the campaign are a comprehensive vehicular and pedestrian wayfinding system, the redesign and reconstruction of University East Plaza at Euclid & Mayfield, and the installation of more than 30 bike racks and recycle bins along Euclid Avenue.
Above: The artists behind (and in front of and on top of) the artworks now covering 22 utility boxes on Euclid Avenue posed with two representatives of University Circe Inc., consultant Christopher Bongorno, far left; and Director of Planning and Design Bryan Evans, far right. Illustration majors on the ground are, left to right, are Kelsey Cretcher ’12, Luke Graber ’14, Brittany Lockwood ’14, Paul Zagorsky ’14, Robert Benigno ’14, and William Appledorn ’14; on top of the boxes are, left to right, Cassandra Jerman ’14 and Kasey Olson ’14.
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