Artists transform Plaza Midwood traffic signal boxes to hold onto ‘community culture’

Artists transform Plaza Midwood traffic signal boxes to hold onto ‘community culture’

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (WBTV) - Artist and Plaza Midwood resident Laurie Smithwick is taking her art from canvas, to curb-side.

“Such basic infrastructure, and yet they make such a great pallet,” she says.

You have probably never even noticed them, mostly a big grey oversight, but Smithwick and other artists are now changing traffic signal boxes across town.

“I love the idea of making someone stop and think on a walk they may have taken a hundred times before,” Smithwick says.

The Plaza Midwood Neighborhood Association and Plaza Midwood Merchants are getting in on it, finding funds to spread these sights along the sidewalks across their community.

“Change is happening so fast, development happens so quick in Charlotte,” David Hale of the neighborhood association says. “So for us, I think this is a little way to kind of hold onto the culture of who we think we are as a community.”

With association funds and a city grant, they raised $8,500 to beautify eight more boxes - and gather 80 submissions from local artists.

“It turned out we had way, way more than we needed,” Hale says.

Among the lucky, is Midwood resident Melissa Wineman, who has always called this home, even as a visitor.

“I would always come down here, because I felt like part of the neighborhood,” she says.

Artists like her are hoping projects like this will project the true voice of the area, during ever-growing development.

“We grew up here, and this was such an eclectic art scene before,” she says. “It kind of got pushed out, and now we’re all kind of pushing to bring it back, so if this is the kind of stuff we have to do to make it city friendly, then let’s do it.”

All this, while making their work more accessible to the everyday traveler.

“You can just be walking to work one day, and there’s art in front of you,” Smithwick says.

Copyright 2019 WBTV. All rights reserved.