Having artists design murals for vinyl wraps on hydro boxes in Old Town is a great “community builder” project, says Elaine Bryck, one of the artists whose work was chosen for the project.
Bryck and two other winners of the design contest gathered Thursday at the Niagara Pumphouse Arts Centre for the unveiling and to collect their $500 prizes donated by NOTL Hydro.
“We artists are always collaborating with each other and enjoy each others work,” said Bryck.
“You want to see what other people are doing and work with them and hear how they interpret anything that’s out there. Especially a competition like this.”
Artists’ submissions for the Hydro Box Beautification competition were accepted between Aug. 21 and Sept. 18, with three winners chosen on Sept. 25.
At the end of the competition, “You want to see what’s out there on the actual hydro boxes, whether it was mine or someone else’s,” Bryck said.
Bryck says Niagara-on-the-Lake is a very supportive and culture-minded community in that way.
The work of Jennifer Penner and Lindsey Kemp also will be displayed on the hydro boxes.
These art-wrapped boxes can be found at Front Street near Victoria Street, Memorial Park off King Street, and King and Ricardo streets.
The contest was sponsored by the Pumphouse, Niagara-on-the-Lake’s Communities in Bloom committee and NOTL Hydro.
Penner was born and raised in Niagara-on-the-Lake and her submission was a focus on ice wine grapes.
“It’s called metamorphosis. As a butterfly, we kind of go through the series and we metamorphoses into something spectacular which is our icewine,” said Penner.
Growing up and smelling the grapes in the air, “ just kind of embedded in my soul,” said Penner.
Kemp’s background as a photographer and herbalist inspired her submission, First Flora.
“It’s a collection of plants that are native and indigenous to the Niagara Region. I wanted to pay homage to that,” said Kemp.
“I hope there are more opportunities for local artists to show their work in town because there’s so much talent here.”
Being in Niagara-on-the-Lake allows Kemp more time to be connected with nature, which she says there is not the same opportunity living in a big city.
NOTL Hydro president Tim Curtis was inspired to start the project after seeing online posts of other communities painting fire hydrants.
He thought, “That’s kind of cool, why don’t we do the same thing for transformers,” Curtis told the audience at the awards.
“Little did I know that hundreds of people have done it beforehand,” added Curtis.
When Curtis suggested the idea to Lord Mayor Betty Disero she pulled out her phone and started showing him examples of decorated hydrants and transformers across the country.
“This is one of the beauties of having a local electricity distributor. We can work with the town on things like this,” said Curtis.
Although the lord mayor was unable to attend the award ceremony, Pumphouse volunteer Gail Kerr read a note on her behalf.
Disero said this project has been a dream of hers for many years and it “provides such a wonderful opportunity to showcase our artists in a public setting and it adds beauty to the town in places that are sometimes subjected to graffiti or ignored.”