A Penny for Remy's Thoughts

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The San José Art Box Project

Painted electrical box

2020

 

For several years the City of San José has commissioned local artists to paint the electric utility boxes throughout the different neighborhoods of the city. The subject matter is left up to the artists but there is a committee that approves or rejects the ideas presented. In my neighborhood of Willow Glen, the requisite was that a willow tree must be part of the imagery.

“A Penny For Remy’s Thoughts” was inspired by Remy, the friendliest blue staffy anyone has ever met! Her favorite time of the day is the hour she gets to spend running and playing in the park with her dog friends. On any given day there will be ten to twelve dogs out and about, and they run and play while their owners chat. This became a very important time of the day during COVID, when humans and dogs alike were bound to their homes and park hour was our only chance of human or canine connection. Hundreds of photographs of the dogs playing were taken and then the image that best represented each dog was selected. Drawings and final painted images were based on the photographs. There are fourteen dogs in total, including Remy, who appears on three sides of the box. The fourth side displays the willow tree, a symbol of the neighborhood. Remy’s friends appear in “thought bubbles” because I imagined she thinks of them throughout the day and looks forward to her play time with them. As 4:00 pm gets closer she follows me around the house, making sure I don’t forget! 

 

The accompanying boxes display a sampling of dog “interests”, from toys to birds, to bouncing balls, to squirrels, to cats. 

This was a very special project particularly because it got me out of the house and painting at a busy intersection, in the middle of mandatory ‘shelter in place’. The community was very supportive throughout the three months it took to complete the project. People would bring me coffee, flowers, honked and waved when they passed by, and on occasion, even stopped to talk at a safe distance. All in all it was a great experience and Remy and her friends have become little celebrities, if only in their owners eyes!