Open Call for Public Art on Utility Boxes in Portland; July Deadline

Lin Lisberger, Chair of the Portland Public Art Committee, Also a Hill Resident.

Lin Lisberger, Chair of the Portland Public Art Committee, is Also a Hill Resident.

By Carol McCracken  (Post # 2,615)

Calling All Artists!

An open call for artists from the Greater Portland area to submit their proposed designs for enhancing specific public utility  boxes throughout the city has been issued by the City of Portland.  An artist panel will review the submissions and select five (5) artists to paint the designated utility boxes.  The artwork is intended to beautify the city landscape, increase civic participation and support the local arts community.

The project mirrors similar efforts in cities around the country from Burbank to Boston which have been shown to reduce litter, deter graffiti and increase interest in the area of the utility box locations.

This effort to engage local artists may be an effort to  improve the public image of the Portland Public Art Committee.  It  has stumbled over some of its decisions in recent years. First, there was the wave disaster on the fringes of the Old Port that had to be removed and sold at a loss.  Then there was the  failed attempt to find a winner on the controversial and time consuming bench contest for Portland Trails near the still unresolved midtown housing project. (The closing with Federated Co. of Miami, has been delayed, again.  The latest date given is for Thursday, June 16th.)  It was believed by some that placing  benches along the Trail near midtown would greatly increase its use and justify the Trail’s very existence.

More recently there was controversy surrounding a lighting project to be installed  at Woodford’s Corner by a local artist.  The city council approved it but not without a backlash.   A planned reception at the waiting room of Casco Bay Lines on behalf of the newly installed puffin – perched high on a beam –  was canceled as well because the donor could not attend. The puffin was sculpted by Maine native Bernard Langlais.  Perhaps this effort will be more successful in unifying  the community over  public art.

Artists must be 18 years or older and may submit up to three designs each.  Selected artists will be notified by September 1, 2016. Please email  at the city’s planning department, for more information and an application.  Caitlin Cameron, an urban landscaper, is the staff person for the Portland Public Arts Commission.

Lin Lisberger, is Chair of the Portland Public Art Committee.  Her husband, Peter Bass, a co-developer of 65 Munjoy Street on Munjoy Hill, was sued in March 2016 for “poor design” by six neighborhood  home owners. According to one of the co-developers of the property, Ethan Boxer-Macomber of Adams Apple LLC, the issues are currently being  negotiated out of court to avoid negative publicity. The proposal has always been on a very tight budget.  Will it survive?  For more information on this subject, please visit Post # 2,605, dated May 31, 2016 herein.

Proposals are due by 4:00 pm on Friday, July 15, 2016.  Selected artists will receive a $300. stipend from funds donated to the Portland Public Arts Committee for this project upon approval and completion of their box design.  Artists are responsible for the cost of all materials required to complete and protect their artwork with a clear and washable sealant.

The project has been generously funded by NBT Bank and Port Property Management.

Go For It Artists !