An art program in Bristol was left hanging after the city's board of police commissioners voted Tuesday night to end the project.
Last fall, local artists set out to paint 19 traffic boxes around the city. While standard traffic boxes remain throughout Bristol, nine of the boxes were transformed into art. Each were painted with a carefully-chosen theme.
“We didn't know what they were really doing to start with it, then as we saw them going on and on and on,” Gui Gunther, of Bristol, said. ”It was such a great idea."
The Bristol Art Squad banded together last year to brighten up busy intersections. It was a partnership with the chamber of commerce and the city.
“This is not a commissioned piece,” Lindsay Vigue with the Bristol Art Squad said. “This is an all-volunteer, community project."
The project was to be done in two phases with 10 more boxes planned for this summer. But the group said the city only approved three of the designs and demanded changes to the others.
“Our artists are getting a little antsy,” Vigue said. “Again, these are people who are volunteering hours and hours and hours of their time just to brighten up their own community."
Bristol Art Squad said they have been going and back and forth with the city for a while and tried to get the last seven designs approved. They said Tuesday night's decision to end the project completely blindsided them
“It's disheartening, of course, because to me a city without public art is like a body without a soul,” Vigue said.
Mayor Ken Cockayne was one of the four who voted to end the project. He wouldn't explain his reasoning and simply told Eyewitness News the commission "will revisit the issue."
“You would think that they would want to share people's art, so everybody could experience it to make the city more beautiful,” Bristol resident Priscilla Maxwell said.
“I hope that they will revisit it,” Vigue said. “I think that this is a powerful and beautiful thing for our city."
On Wednesday evening, the mayor posted on Facebook that he will "be calling a special police board meeting to reevaluate and reconsider the boxes. The meeting will be held next week. Date and time will be posted when it's confirmed."
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