Photo: Artist Grace Julian Murthy working on her traffic signal control canvas painting pansies.
On a recent Sunday afternoon in August, a day after one of the handful of heatwaves that settled over New England was finally pushed aside, pansies appeared in Cushing Square.
They weren’t the ones emerging from a pot or some lonely stretch of earth. Rather it was the impression of viola tricolor var. hortensis by the artist Grace Julian Murthy who used as her canvas the traffic signal control box on the sidewalk adjacent the Bradford Apartments at the corner of Common and Trapelo.
“I like to paint things that are overlooked,” said Murthy, who works as a graphic designer. “Because pansies are so prevalent, you don’t get to see there beauty.”
Using acrylics (it dries quicker and has a vibrant palette) Murthy applied purple, yellow and black on a white base to create a field of pansies all within the aluminum box – originally a dark green – protecting the expensive signal and traffic controller equipment inside.
Murthy was one of three artists selected to paint boxes by the Belmont Art Association which sponsored for a second year the Transforming Belmont Public Art Project. The artists received a $750 stipend from the Belmont Cultural Council, a local agency supported by the Mass Cultural Council.