In small towns they say this is what you do for entertainment, sit around and watch the traffic light turn from green to red. Well, Jackson being far from a small town, we can now also watch the control boxes that make the lights turn thanks to a joint project between the City of Jackson and the Jackson Arts Council to decorate some of those control boxes.
You know, those lights don't just do all this changing by themselves. There are large aluminum boxes full of computerized stuff at the side of the intersection that mixes all the signals and spits them out to the various fixtures on the polls. And up until now, those traffic signal boxes have had all of the personality of a traffic signal box. But not at 18 of downtown Jackson's boxes on Pearl Street and Pascagoula Street.
As a result of a pilot program that is finishing up here at the end of May, those boxes have taken on lives of their own as over 40 artist submitted themes, and 18 were chosen in phase one and these formerly bland boxes are now even more colorful than the signals they control. And you have to think out of the box to come up with a clever design to paint on a box.
"Very first idea that struck me was let's make a bookcase out of this thing," said Tom Harmon.
Artist Tom Harmon spent his younger years in Jackson and then moved back home to the old family place in recent years. Not only is the idea of a book case clever and automatically lends itself to being colorful, but you'd have no problem picking plenty of Mississippi writers to fill it.
"I went on the Internet and I said tell me, give me a list of all of the Mississippi authors and their books. And this, hundreds and hundreds of books, so I've gone through and tried to pick out some of the more memorable ones," said Harmon.
Nathan Robertson has what he considers to be the plum box of them all, this is the first control box you come to at State Street as you take the Pearl Street exit off the interstate. You know at the, the signal that is always red. So you will get a good look at his work. And this is just the first set of boxes to be painted. The next phase takes in Capitol Street and maybe a block or so north and starts in September.
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