Do you ever notice those ordinary utility transformer cabinets dotting the streets? You might not have given them a second thought, but in Fort Collins and Loveland, Colorado, they’ve become the canvas for inspiring initiatives that have been transforming the cityscape. Welcome to the Transformer Cabinet Mural Projects, where art meets utility.
A Colorful Solution to Graffiti Abatement: Fort Collins Leads the Way
The Transformer Cabinet Mural Project in Fort Collins, Colorado, was a trailblazer. It all started in 2004 as a collaboration between the City of Fort Collins Art in Public Places Program and Utilities Light and Power. Serving as a graffiti abatement program, the murals help lower maintenance costs while adding bright, colorful art in unexpected places.
Fort Collins has been an inspiration for other cities in Colorado and beyond, showing how urban art can beautify communities and deter vandalism. Since its inception, over 377 transformer cabinets in Fort Collins have been transformed into unique works of art, making it a true pioneer in this endeavor.
Loveland Follows Suit: “Transformations” Brighten the City
It’s hard to walk, bike, or drive around Loveland these days without seeing one of the city’s painted transformer boxes. The current list of painted transformers in Loveland, known as the “Transformations” pieces of art, stands at an impressive 72. There are approximately three of them per square mile, according to the city. Without question, these works of art look much better than the standard “ARMY green” that they originally were.
With 72 boxes, and many different artists involved, you’ll find a very wide variety of “transformations” in Loveland. Some are eclectic (featuring abstract art,) some are clever (depicting a lineman working on a line,) and some are historical (showcasing the Great Western Railway.) A great way to spend a weekend would be to hunt down all 72 of these artistic boxes.
The Legacy Continues: Fort Collins and Loveland
The program in Fort Collins began in 2004, a full eight years before Loveland initiated its “Transformations” project. Although Loveland may have joined the transformer cabinet art movement later, they’ve made impressive strides in brightening up their city. With 72 painted boxes, Loveland is well on its way to matching Fort Collins.
Currently, Fort Collins boasts over 350 painted boxes, solidifying its status as a pioneer in the transformer cabinet mural movement. The friendly competition between these two neighboring cities is a testament to the power of art to transform urban landscapes and create a sense of community pride.
2023: A Year of Creativity
This year is no exception to the project’s tradition of artistic innovation. Sixteen talented artists have taken up their brushes to bring 18 utility transformer cabinets to life as part of the 2023 Transformer Cabinet Mural Project. These artists include Chris Bates, Ren Burke, Tyler Boeyink, CM Canino, Chelsea Ermer, Chelsea Gilmore, Terry McNerney, Noelle Miller, Dominique Montano, Joe Myers, Allie Ogg, Allison Ramirez, Larry Tucci, Shawna Turner, Aerica Raven Van Dorn, and Kristen Vohs.
Celebrating a Milestone
This year holds a special significance for the project. Local artist Terry McNerney had the honor of painting the program’s 400th cabinet mural. It marks his fifth cabinet mural to date and showcases a design that celebrates the project’s milestone. The mural features whimsical characters in a colorful, birthday party atmosphere. Terry’s creation can be admired at 3754 Landings Drive, and it’s a must-see for anyone interested in the transformative power of art.
A Colorful Future for Northern Colorado
Fort Collins and Loveland have proven that art can transform the ordinary into something extraordinary. Whether it’s Fort Collins’ long-standing tradition of beautifying transformer cabinets or Loveland’s impressive “Transformations” project, both cities are brightening up Northern Colorado one cabinet at a time. So, next time you’re exploring the streets of Fort Collins or Loveland, keep an eye out for these remarkable pieces of street art. You might just stumble upon a hidden gem that tells a story worth sharing.