Art box efforts increase artists' reach, opportunities

Art box efforts increase artists' reach, opportunities

Art box efforts across Beaumont are increasing artists’ reach and opportunities by exposing their artwork to a large audience, with passers-by honking, remarking and even hiring the artists laboring to beautify the city. 

Well-known artists from across the area have signed up to paint the drab, gray boxes that control traffic lights at intersections in Beaumont, as have amateur artists looking to expand their horizons and become more involved in the local art scene. 

Sarah Davis of Sarah Davis Home Studio started “dabbling” with art in high school, but she has continued her creative endeavors ever since, never quite able to shake the desire to express herself artistically. So far, she has painted two Beaumont art box murals, which led to “bigger” and better things, including a paid gig to adorn another electrical box at the Huntington Park Apartments and other commissioned jobs in the Southeast Texas community.

“The art box was my first time to really do a mural anywhere outside of friends and family,” Davis shared. “I got nothing but positive feedback from it – people driving by, stopping, asking for cards and stuff. They would ask, ‘Did you do all of them?’ And I would tell them, ‘No, it’s a bunch of people.’ It’s really opened up everything for me. I’ve had people want to contact me because of that. Since I did the art box, I’ve been going bigger and bigger, too. It’s a slow process, but I’ve been mingling more with the art community.”

Davis heard about the art box effort from a relative. She decided to take a chance and submit her ideas for murals.

“My cousin tagged me in a Facebook post about the art boxes,” she recalled. “It was available for anybody to do. You send in an idea, and it has to be approved. It could be anything.”

Her daughter’s art, which she helped with by placing tape on the canvas, inspired the ‘stained glass’ design of one of the art boxes Davis painted for the city of Beaumont. 

“I’ve always had the idea that anybody could do art,” said Davis, which is why she let her daughter, who was 3 years old at the time, “go wild” with the paint, producing a unique color pattern resembling stained glass. “Anybody can do it.”

That was her second box. The first art box Davis painted for the city of Beaumont was inspired by a youthful photo of her mother, who passed away a few years ago. In the photograph, she is wearing faded jeans, her back turned to the camera, walking toward a golden field under a pale blue sky. 

Davis said she draws inspiration from everywhere, like from the old photograph but also from other random objects, daily toils, persistent struggles and ranging emotions. 

“A lot of my inspiration comes from abstract thought, trying to put emotions into something visual, so I tend to work with a lot of bright, vibrant colors, a lot of weird ideas,” Davis explained. 

She admits she has struggled with manic depression, and says the artwork she creates offers her an outlet for the negative emotions and transforms them into a positive – a work of art that may be admired and appreciated.

“I try to paint what I want to see,” said Davis. 

According to Davis, she is primarily “self-taught,” but described her “best training was at Lamar” when she was going to school to be an art teacher.

Davis says she is grateful that Beaumont offered the opportunity to paint the art boxes to the public because it has indiscriminately opened doors for artists of all levels of talent and experience. 

“Because the city did it the way they did, being open to anybody, it opens it up to people like me who have never done that type of thing; to people in high school, who are passionate about it but don’t really know where to begin,” Davis lauded. 

Since she has painted the art boxes, Davis has been busily creating commissioned and personal work – featuring people’s pets, animal personifications and other mixed media projects. In addition, she has met numerous other area artists who have assisted her in a variety of ways, from helping her price commissioned artwork to providing venues for her to sell her wares. 

“I’ve had some help,” said Davis. “People over at the Art Studio have been great. I’m on Facebook a lot, and there aren’t a lot of resources available on Facebook, locally. The Music Studio did a show recently that I put a piece in. That was my first show. They are big on Facebook. If we could see more of an online presence from artists’ groups and galleries, that would get a lot more attention. I really hope to see the Beaumont artists’ base grow.”

Sarah Davis may be contacted via phone at (409) 782-5304, on Facebook at Sarah Davis Home Studio, via email at hufflepear [at] outlook [dot] com and on Instagram at @hufflepaint.

 

Sharon Brooks can be reached at (409) 832-1400, ext. 241, or by e-mail at sharon [at] theexaminer [dot] com

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