Clearwater wraps up creative neighborhood arts project

Over the past year, the Clearwater Arts Alliance has refused to stay boxed-in in its downtown community. The program has delivered its “Thinking Outside the Box” arts wraps to four new signal boxes — an endeavor sponsored by BayCare/Morton Plant Hospital — and, most recently, has started a program to brighten apexes in Clearwater’s most underserved communities.

The intersection brighteners started as part of the Alliance’s continuing mission to advocate for and promote public art in Clearwater, and the box program’s current phase of the project involves adding beauty to communities that haven’t benefited from the visual art enhancements. 

Clearwater Arts Alliance vice president Beth Daniels and her colleagues presented Phase 5 of the “Thinking Outside the Box” project to the public art and design board of the city of Clearwater starting last summer. 

“We had to make several presentations before the neighborhood project was approved,” Daniels says. 

Clearwater approved the project last fall, adding that city money would be provided for six new boxes. In short order, the Alliance sent an invitation out to neighborhoods that are part of the city's neighborhood coalition group. 

“The priority would be given to areas that are underserved for art amenities. that we wouldn't get the money unless we were targeting serving those areas,” Daniels says. “In fact, I got an email from the Lake Bellevue Association. That's probably going to be the very first one put up. We just got the city's money last week.” 

To fulfill Clearwater’s ordinance and public art master plan guidelines, artists will collaborate with residents to create images that resonate with the neighborhood’s identity and showcase points of pride, focusing on areas lacking art. 
After that, the creatives will meet with neighborhood groups to come up with concepts and residents would be part of selection of artistic images and location of signal boxes.

“We don’t just go out and do it Willy nilly,” Daniels emphasizes while discussing the planning process and volunteer hours the CAA board invests in the project. “We had to research it. Then we did three protocol boxes and they were out for about nine months or so before we did any additional ones to make sure that it seemed like the process was all gonna all going to be accepted.” 

The vinyl wrapping process, drafted and installed by Jack Furey of Jack’s Signs and Designs, has proven effective, and based on material specs, will last five to six years, claims the Art Alliance’s sponsorship agreement. 

“CAA has expanded the project all over the city,” the form reads, “with numerous installations made possible with funding from the Downtown Development Board and the city.”

Added this past year, “Summer Rain” by Dunedin-based artist Candy Schultheis, at Druid Road and South Fort Harrison Avenue. “Where to Begin”, artwork also created by Schultheis provides eye candy at Pinellas Street and South Fort Harrison, and her “Moon Over Water” is at Drew Street and Hampton Road, and artist Ray Paul’s “Lavender Mist” beautifies Street and Park Place. 

The wraps no doubt provide weary drivers a pleasant, intriguing focal point while waiting for the light to change, and if you live in Clearwater, you’ve learned to train your eye on the colorful artwork So far, 25 boxes have been enhanced with colorful designs and they are located all over the city.

Founded in 1999, CAA is a 501c3 nonprofit art support organization. Donations and sponsors help further its goal to enrich cultural life in Clearwater and support local artists and arts education. If you would like to donate your time, money, and/or resources to this important work or would like to advertise in future versions of the map, or sponsor our art wrapped signal box project, email CAA.

For more information about this and other public arts projects, visit Clearwater Arts Alliance.
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Read more articles by Julie Garisto.

A graduate of Largo High, USF, and the University of Tampa's Creative Writing MFA program, Julie Garisto grew up in Clearwater and now has a home in the Ocala National Forest. Between writing assignments, she's teaching English courses at Saint Leo University and other colleges. Julie has written arts features in Creative Pinellas' online magazine ArtsCoast Journal, Creative Loafing, Florida travel pieces  (Visit Tampa Bay and Visit Jacksonville), the Cade Museum, and features and reviews in the Tampa Bay Times. Her previous journalistic roles include arts and entertainment editor for Creative Loafing, staff writer for the Tampa Bay Times, and copy editor for the Weekly Planet. Lately, she's been obsessed with exploring Florida's State Parks, small towns, and natural springs.