Utility Box Wraps

Turning eyesores into artwork was the goal of a 2018 initiative in Tangletown.  Seven neighborhood utility boxes were wrapped with local artists’ designs in June of 2018. The artist selection committee focused on designs that included aspects of cultural diversity and imagery unique to the Tangletown neighborhood. Artwork featuring neighborhood landmarks helps to reinforce the character of Tangletown and make pedestrians and drivers aware of Tangletown’s identity. In addition, the box wraps help reduce graffiti.

The locations and selected artwork include:

  • Two boxes at Lyndale and 50th (artist Robb Burnham), and one at Lyndale and Minnehaha Pkwy (artist Mandel Cameron): the designs selected for these three boxes along Lyndale reflect a very unique feature of Tangletown: the water tower and its stonework.
  • Two boxes at Nicollet and 50th (artists Charlotte DeVaughn and Macy Rajacich): the two designs were created by students who attended Washburn High School. These works reflect the diversity and character of the Washburn student body.
  • One box at Nicollet and 54th: the design reflects the diversity in the city of Minneapolis (artist Carla Januska).
  • One box at James and 50th: this design represents a variety of student artwork from Burroughs Elementary School and was implemented in partnership with Lynnhurst Neighborhood Association.  Teacher Jeff Pilon worked with his students to create the piece and compiled the artwork into the final design.

Artist Profiles:

Robb Burnham is an illustratrator also known as WACSO: Walkin’ Around Checkin’ Stuff Out.  A Tangletown resident for over 20 years, Robb has done thousands of drawings of our neighborhood.  His design features two very well known aspects of the Tangletown neighborhood: the water tower and airplanes.  He wrote, “The first time I stumbled upon the water tower I was in awe of how great it was…it’s like you’ve found a treasure”.

Charlotte DeVaughn was a student at Washburn High School at the time of submission.  She created her piece in an art class taught by Washburn teacher Nancy Hinz.  She wrote, “As a mixed (African American/White) teenage girl, I see the world through a lot of different lenses. I am still figuring out my identity and am using my art to help me. I have lived in Minneapolis for most of my life and have been exposed to people of different colors, genders, ages, backgrounds, and stories. I love being a part of such a beautifully diverse city. I hope to use my art to inspire others to explore their own identity while celebrating the diversity around them.”

Macy Rajacich was also a Washburn High School student in a Nancy Hinz art class.  Macy hopes to become a professional artist. Her work has already been featured in a show at a local coffee shop.  Macy wrote, “While the country feels as if it’s splitting apart right now, I feel like Minneapolis is holding it together.  We take part in what we believe in.  We stand up, rise up, and demand our voices be heard.  I want this piece to really speak in that way.”

Carla Januska lives in Tangletown and creates art based on her life experiences.  Her chosen submission, entitled City Faces, was inspired by people in parks and walking in the neighborhood.

Mandel Cameron moved to Minneapolis in 2016 and loves the beauty and variety of homes in Tangletown.  In her submissions, she depicts the Washburn Water Tower and it’s Guardians looking over the neighborhood.  Behind the Guardians sits a row of homes, which are sketches of homes from the Tangletown Neighborhood.  The homes give people a glimpse at the architectural character of the neighborhood.

Burroughs Student Artwork was compiled into this beautiful piece by their art teacher Jeff Pilon.  The idea came from seeing Minneapolis Kids students coloring in adult coloring books at the front desk; it’s a regular thing and many kids color on the same page, creating some interesting variation from the group effort.  They each have their own style, then you add the individual styles of all the artists and there’s a lot of variation.  We decided to create a mosaic look with all the completed coloring sheets.  The overall meaning from the mosaic pieces is really the individual expression and teamwork of kids who go to the Tangletown Community School (Burroughs).