Robbie Bellamy is already enjoying the exposure to her artwork on the corner of James Brown Boulevard and Broad Street.
As she sanded and began painting James Brown’s portrait on a traffic box located there, two former high school classmates have stopped by to chat, and three more people requested her contact information about possible commissioned work.
Bellamy is one of 19 artists participating in the Art the Box public art project. Funded by the city of Augusta, the Downtown Development Authority and the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the artists have been commissioned to paint designs on traffic boxes around the city.
“It’s so exciting and it’s happening all over the city,” said Sallie West, the director of Outreach for the Arts Council.
Artists submitted concepts of designs for all four sides of the boxes. Designs were chosen based on artistic merit, relevance to location and quality of design execution, West said.
As they work, artists have been asked to upload pictures to #arttheboxAUG to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Anyone interested can view the progress, and photos will be shown at the reveal party June 5 at 600 Broad Street.
“We’re really encouraging the artists to use social media as they are willing and able so we can follow along,” West said. “Hopefully the public is following along and creating their own posts.”
Erica Pastecki said she wanted to participate because Augusta needs a stronger art presence.
“I think if the community looked better, then people would take more pride in it, and it just leads to a happier life all around,” she said.
Pastecki is painting portraits of Woodrow Wilson on the traffic box at the corner of Seventh and Broad streets.
“The reason why I submitted that design was because of history. We live in Augusta and have such a rich history. It’s not so evident,” she said. “People should not live in Augusta their whole lives and not know that Woodrow Wilson’s boyhood home of 10 years is right there.”
Bellamy said it’s fun to participate in public art projects like this.
In the past, she’s painted a horse for Aiken Center for the Art’s Horseplay series, and
Aiken Livery Stable’s Barn Cats, which were auctioned as a fundraiser.
She said she chose to paint James Brown because it’s challenging. Her box, at the corner of Ninth and Broad streets, is near the James Brown statue. She said that she’s always admired the man and his music. Her design is black and white, which she said is all of the colors, symbolizing his music’s ability to reach all people regardless of race.
So far, she’s had positive feedback, she said.
“You’ve got to nail it because if you don’t nail it, you’re going to hear about it,” she said. “I knew I was going to have to be spot on or I was going to get a lot of criticism.”
For more information about the project or to see photos of works, go toaugustaarts.com.