The City of Morgantown has received approval from the West Virginia Division of Highways to install six new utility box murals designed by area artists in downtown Morgantown.
“The utility box murals are an exciting opportunity to showcase local artists and help create a vibrant downtown,” said Vincent Kitch, director of Arts and Creative Cultural Development for the city. “We hope to develop more of these opportunities throughout the community”.
Kitch said utility boxes will make the downtown area more creative and beautiful while providing an opportunity for Morgantown artists to express themselves.
In collaboration with Main Street Morgantown, six local artists were chosen to develop original artwork concepts for the utility box murals. Selected artists include Eli Pollard, Maggie McDonald, Connie Mae Moeller, Taylor Pate and Patricia Colebank, as well as Caroline Murphy, the DA's layout design chief. Each design will be converted to vinyl wraps and placed on utility boxes throughout the downtown area in April.
“There is a lot of talent in the Morgantown area,” said Barb Watkins, director of Main Street Morgantown, a nonprofit organization for revitalization of the downtown area. “The mural project is a way to support our local artists and beautify the downtown.”
The use of the vinyl wraps, Kitch said, is an efficient way to improve utility boxes or trash compactors because the artwork can be easily transferred onto the wraps in this way.
The installment requires special approval from the State Department of Transportation and the City made that application. There are three larger mural projects also in development in the downtown area including the one in progress on the parking garage on Pleasant Street.
“Downtown Morgantown is the heart of the city, so Main Street Morgantown was looking for ways to make the downtown an arts, entertainment, dining, and shopping District,” Watkins said. “We were also looking at how to bring the community together and find ways to attract locals and visitors.”
This project was funded in part by an Organizational Arts Grant from Your Community Foundation. The Organizational Arts Grant is made possible through a collaborative effort between YCF and the Arts Council of Greater Morgantown, with funding from the City of Morgantown, the Monongalia County Commission and the Douglas H. Tanner Memorial Fund for the Arts.
“Over the next year we hope to see many more mural and public art projects developed,” Kitch said. “Public art can be transformative for communities and really create a sense of place and showcase the creativity of a city or district or neighborhood.”