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Shock Art: 7 designs picked for next round of utility box transformation

“Through the program, our local creatives have stepped up to inject positive energy into our surroundings,” Art in Public Places administrator Angela Brill said.

The latest round of designs for Shock Art, the public art program that transforms plain green electric switchgear boxes into colorful canvases throughout Longmont, have been picked. 

The designs were chosen after Longmont Art in Public Places by community members who voted for their favorites. This year’s chosen artists are Dustin Spencer, Julia Williams, Patrick Pair, Stevie Lawrence, Kyra Coates, and Cynthia Barnes. Each will receive a $2,000 stipend to complete their project. The stipends are paid for through part of the 1% of the city’s Capital Improvement Project Fund that goes to the Art in Public Places program. 

Art in Public Places also awarded the Commissioner’s Choice Award to “Teach Love” by Travis Ruekert, The design depicts a young child’s toy building block with the letters LOVE on each of the sides with a teacher’s apple on top.

“It was partly inspired by my daughter’s little toys and partly by the times,” Ruekert said.” I am excited to have been selected, and that it’s outside so anyone can see it at any time. Now I get to take my girl there and show her the message of love her daddy made.” 

Residents can expect to see artists working on the boxes in late summer and early fall. 

“Through the program, our local creatives have stepped up to inject positive energy into our surroundings,” Art in Public Places administrator Angela Brill said. “We’re thrilled to encourage and support both professional and up-and-coming artists.” 

Selected artist Pair said his design, “ Long Live Longmont” celebrates some of his favorite places around the city. 

“It’s awesome that I get to create a piece of art that will represent the community,” he said. 

His piece shows four scenes from the city at various times of the day and is framed at the top by a picture of the sun and the moon. 

Since 2011, the popular program has been conducted jointly with the city’s electric utility, Longmont Power and Communications. It’s now open to artists and artist teams nationwide. Once this year’s designs are complete, there will be more than 50 finished pieces throughout Longmont. Past designs have featured landscapes, bead-like geometric patterns that flow across all sides of the switchgear box, and a simple but intriguing Rubik’s Cube. 

This year’s program remained as popular as ever. More than 40 artists, 70% of whom were in Longmont, submitted applications. That’s nearly a 20% increase from the year prior.

In June, nearly 2,800 community members participated in choosing the winning selections, with much of the voting taking place electronically due to coronavirus concerns. The online emphasis was different than years past, and Brill noted the program took care to ensure individuals without strong connectivity weren’t prevented from voting. For this reason, the voting process was moved to the Longmont Museum once it reopened, a location that turned out to be an ideal host because of social distancing measures that were already in place.

The program is always open to ideas from residents for switchgear boxes that could be painted. Those with suggestions for a box that is 65 inches square are asked to email