The Somerset County Cultural and Heritage Commission has installed a countywide public art show, entitled “Gallery 24/7”. The “art gallery” exists on street corners throughout the county, namely on those big, colorless traffic control boxes that house the wiring for traffic lights. Pat McGarry, Manager for the Commission, initiated the project with a grant from the New Jersey Council on the Arts, funded by the state hotel/motel room tax. “I thought those huge aluminum boxes were eye sores (not to mention targets for graffiti and posters), and I felt they could provide a perfect ‘canvas’ for original artworks and not only provide great exposure for our state’s talented artists, but also a way to make art more accessible in our local communities for everyone to enjoy, at their convenience and admission-free!”
Approximately 93 artists from twelve New Jersey counties submitted a total of 201 original artworks, which were then selected through a competitive and professional juried selection process. The first twelve winning pieces were reproduced on a special vinyl adhesive film and professionally applied to the boxes last fall. Five more followed this summer (2011).
Basking Ridge artist, Serena Bocchino, saw the call for the project, and submitted three proposals. One idea adapted her existing painting, “Rhythm Rain”, by cropping it relative to the required dimensions, taking into account how it would best translate from a two-dimensional concept to three-dimensional version, wrapped around a box. “I had a friend help with the digital size and brought the artwork to the County. They had a photographer re-shoot it to the specs of the installers, translating it into the medium that goes on the boxes.” Bocchino, whose work most often springs from her interpretations of the rhythms and different improvisational qualities in jazz music, is thrilled to be a part of the project. “It works on an aesthetic level and also an educational level. Bringing a variety of imagery to the public enhances peoples lives and the culture around them. What a wonderful thing!”
Bocchino’s was one of the more abstract pieces chosen for Gallery 24/7. Others are more realistic paintings and photographs that blend seamlessly into the background of Somerset County landscape and culture. Winning artists received an honorarium as well as promotion in a widely distributed companion brochure to encourage tourism in Somerset County.