Art in Public Places Program decorates the city, supports local artistry

Julia Trowbridge

Art in Public Places

  • Established in 1995
  • Location of art: Throughout the entire city of Fort Collins
  • Current Projects: Scupltures on Oak Street and Remington Street parking lot


As you walk through Fort Collins, you may notice brightly colored transformer boxes or pianos sitting on the sidewalks. These projects, organized by the Art In Public Places Program, were created to provide local artists with a canvas and add to the ascetic of the city.

The program organizes opportunities for local artists to submit artwork and be selected to participate in a project. Once selected, the artist gets to transform an object or area in the city into a work of art.

One of the most popular projects is the Transformer Cabinet Mural Program. The Utilities Light and Power Department and the Art in Public Places program started working together in 2004 to decrease the amount of vandalism occurring on the transformer boxes.

A collection of decorated transformer boxes sit outside of the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, painted through the Transformer Cabinet Mural Program with Art in Public Places (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

“This program is innovative in its use of art to help solve the social issue of vandalism on city property,” said Ellen Martin, visual arts administrator for the City of Fort Collins. “This is being achieved while simultaneously supporting our rich resource of local artists.”

This project attracts other artists to the Art in Public Places program by showcasing the work of local artists in a very open way. Each year, a juried process selects local artists to participate in programs like the Transformer Cabinet Mural Program.

Another popular project is the Pianos About the Town Program. Organized by The Bohemian Foundation, the art pieces that line the sidewalks add a beautiful, interactive element to Fort Collins.

A transformer box along the tracks on Willow St, painted through the Transformer Cabinet Mural Program with Art in Public Places (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

“Honeycomb Haven (one of the pianos) utilizes bright colors and natural elements combining the geometric shape of the honeycombs in juxtaposition with the organic shapes of the peony flowers,” stated Chelsea Ermer in her artist’s statement about the piano she painted.

Pianos about Town is a fun and unique installation that creates music and pops of color along the streets.

A painted piano sits by the Fort Collins Museum of Discovery, organized by 'Pianos About Town' with the Art in Public Places program (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

In addition to these projects, the Arts in Public Places Program has helped local artists create sculptures and mosaics that decorate the city, like the mosaic on Mulberry Bridge. The mosaic, created by local artist Jill MacKay, is titled “Current” and is inspired by the Poudre River.

“I am honored to be able to help make our community more beautiful,” MacKay said. “I love that the City of Fort Collins is progressive and supports the arts with the Arts in Public Places Program.”


This sculpture, titled "Sustainable Gardens," was created by Lisa Russel with the Art in Action Program. The Art in Action Program was developed out of an art project where a sculptor worked 'live' out of Old Town Square one summer, which created a few more projects. The Art in Action Program, working with the Art in Public Places Program, placed this art piece just south of Old Town Square along Mountain Ave. (Julia Trowbridge | Collegian)

Art in Public Places is always offering oppertunties for local artists to get involved. Their current projects include a sculptures on Oak Street in the downtown Remington Street parking lot. Go to for more information.

Reporter Julia Trowbridge can be reached at or on twitter @chapin_jules.