Amplify the Signal Brings Eight New Art Pieces to South End

August 20, 2018 2:30 pm

Drab and unremarkable utility boxes along South Boulevard will soon be transformed into colorful works of art, thanks to a new public art project called Amplify the Signal. 

This project is the brainchild of Charlotte artist Laurie Smithwick, who won a South End Creative Lab grant in 2016 for “Beautiful Utilities” – the first project to transform a grey utility box with art. In this project, Amplify the Signal, Smithwick received a second grant from the South End Creative Lab to apply the transformation to 8 more utility boxes at intersections on South Boulevard.

The project will mingle beauty and function by printing artists’ work on vinyl wraps and adhering them to the gray utility boxes at intersections along South Boulevard. Each artist featured is a Charlotte-based artist who submitted a piece of their work to be considered by a panel of judges. After more than fifty-four submissions, the panel selected eight works that will be featured on throughout South End.

Meet the artists and see their work:

Adrian Chu Redmond  – A Cut Above

South End artist Adrian Chu Redmond is very familiar with the space where her art will soon be displayed.

“I drive on South Boulevard every day going to the Dilworth Artisan Station Building where my art studio is located. I walk the Rail Trail and the greenway frequently and love all the local artwork that has been thoughtfully placed,” says Chu Redmond.

Chu Redmond’s goal with A Cut Above, her first public art piece in Charlotte, is to energize people with the beautiful blooms of sunflowers.


Anna Gelbach  – Organized Chaos

Charlotte-native Anna Gelbach is a self-trained graphic artist who recently started with acrylic abstract painting. Her piece, Organized Chaos, is inspired by depression and the impact of positive moments during difficult times.

“I think that even within the darkness, there is always a way to find something happy and colorful,” Gelbach says.


Beth D. Mussay  – Kindred

Beth D. Mussay’s first public art piece in Charlotte, Kindred, uses colored ink to create portraits of loved ones, friends and strangers who are all persevering in some way.

“This piece is an attempt to let those people know that I see their beauty, as individuals and as members of a vulnerable group,” Mussay says.


Chase Brannock  – Dog Walkers

Chase Brannock’s installation combines two South End staples, dogs and art, in a playful and whimsical narrative of comic panels.

“With all of the negativity in the world, part of my responsibility as an artist is to spread positivity back into the community,” Brannock says.


Christine Dryden  – Lance Color Study

After 15 years as a graphic designer working with artists and creatives, Christine Dryden is now venturing into her newest medium of paint and using her graphic design background to influence her work. For her piece, Lance Color Study, Dryden was inspired by the colors of the brick, grass, trees, concrete and sky at the intersection.

“I translated my photographs to swatches in my PMS book, then returned to the studio to mix oil paints and render a color study of the space,” Dryden says, sharing the squares are an homage to the Lance cracker peanut butter sandwiches that were a staple of her childhood lunches.


Laura Sutthoff  – Cicada – Summer Breeze

Charlotte-native Laura Sutthoff’s first public art piece Cicada – Summer Breeze is inspired by her Southern roots.

“Every thirteen years during the warm months of summer in the South, Cicada Nymphs crawl out from under the earth,” says Sutthoff. “It’s a homecoming, remembering parties and picnics outside. Seeing friends and family, dancing on the grass, and staying up late to hear stories of days gone by.”


Sharon Dowell  – Halcyon Deconstruction

Painter Sharon Dowell is no stranger to public art, with work featured at three CATS transit areas, the Main Public Library, the Tuckaseegee Recreation Center and the Design Center of the Carolinas.

“I like the Amplify the Signal project because it allows people to experience art in the everyday, where one least expects it, which is delightful and important,” Dowell says.

Dowell’s piece, Halcyon Deconstruction, is inspired by Charlotte’s many construction sites and uses both industrial and natural elements in hopes that the developments can coexist with and respect nature.


Ashley Graham  – Urban Infinities – Acrylic Paint, Wheat Paste, Various Papers, Pen and Ink, Photoshop

“For this artwork I wanted to highlight my favorite attributes of being in South End. There is so much to do, whether it’s walking your dog along South Boulevard, riding a bike, or stopping into one of the many shops or restaurants, the atmosphere is always welcoming from the indoors out. The urban landscape of the area is filled with contemporary buildings juxtaposed with historical landmarks, all of which have shaped South End into the vibrant neighborhood that it has become. I collaged maps of Charlotte along with other symbolic imagery to capture the essence of exploring the area of South End and allowing yourself to get lost in the infinite fun,” Graham says. 

Keep an eye out for these works to be installed along South Boulevard in the coming months. In the meantime, you can find art literally around every corner: on walls and windows, under your feet and up above your head. Check out our guide to public art in the neighborhood, who the artist is and where you can find it and start exploring today!

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