Easthampton City Arts+ has selected Amy Johnquest’s proposal to transform a city utility box. The artist also known as the BannerQueen will paint the utility box starting in August. The public is invited to meet the artist during Art Walk Easthampton on August 8th at 5PM as she works on the utility box at the corner of 50 Payson Ave., Easthampton.
Johnquest’s proposal entitled “Electric!” will use a traditional sideshow banner style as a playful response to illustrate what is in the utility box: electricity. It exclaims, “Zap!” and “Alive” and “Power to the People” with lightening bolts scattered throughout.
“It was the spirit of the box crying for a makeover; A new hair-do and some makeup, and was asking me to do the job.”
The utility box, owned by the City of Easthampton, is situated at the highly visible location, in front of Easthampton’s Municipal Building at the corners of Payson and Williston Avenues. The utility box faces the Nashawannuck Pond, Mount Tom, and Cottage Street Studios at the base of the Cottage Street Cultural District. Once painted, the utility box will contribute to the vitality and beautification of the urban streetscape. The Easthampton City Arts+ Public Art Sub-committee, selected Amy Johnquest’s proposal based on its originality, feasibility, and application. Easthampton’s Board of Public Works, the entity that maintains the utility box, approved the project submission.
Johnquest amusingly said in response to how she developed her proposal, “To tell you the truth, I’m not sure what that box is actually for. I imagine it to be filled with a snake den of wires of all colors and sizes acting as a conduit for the neighborhood’s electrical power supply. To any passer-bys the outer shell reveals only a plain, grumpy looking army barracks green that hides the wonder of it’s capabilities beneath. At first I didn’t think I wanted to do this project. I have mixed feelings about public art, but then some great force outside myself tickled me so hard I had to holler ‘uncle!’ It was the spirit of the box crying for a makeover; A new hair-do and some makeup, and was asking me to do the job. So, with my classic sideshow banner painter’s style I put together this concept for our dear neighborhood box. I’m grateful for the opportunity to show my love for Easthampton and hopefully evoke a few smiles.”
Also known as the BannerQueen, Amy Johnquest has created commissioned art work worldwide for folks and notables such as; Bruce Springsteen, Disney Magazine, author Tom Robbins and more. She has been involved locally with many art based projects including creating the scenic art for “Truth”, the folk opera about Sojourner Truth; Site specific installations for MIFA’s Victory Theatre, as well as the Paper City Studios themed exhibitions, and Open Square’s “Arts of the Valley” in Holyoke. Selected exhibitions (from 2011 to present) include “Art of the Side Show”, at Dunedin Fine Arts Center, Dunedin, FL.; “X Marks The Spot”, a collaborative outdoor installation at DUMBO Arts Festival, Brooklyn, NY; “Ride The Big One”, at the Wisteriahurst Museum Gallery in Holyoke, MA; “Fun Spot”, a site specific installation at The Eagle Hill Cultural Center in Hardwick, MA.; “Was/Is” site specific installation for REACH Fest in Easthampton, MA; “A Prize Every Time” a collaborative installation at APE in Northampton, and most recently “For a Limited Time Only” at the Bing Arts Center in Springfield, MA. A resident of the Flats in Holyoke she is also the Director of the Taber Art Gallery at Holyoke Community College.