Skip to main content

Surprise and Delight in the South Loop: Artists are Transforming Appearance of Utility Boxes

October 13, 2016
Artist Erik Sletten

Pictured at right: Artist Erik Sletten hand-painting his set of boxes and adhering sculptural elements to the utility box at Lindau Lane and 30th Avenue.

Three local artists have begun to transform utility boxes into aesthetically pleasing objects in Bloomington’s South Loop. The project, designed to enhance the District’s vitality and character, is a creative placemaking initiative launched by the City of Bloomington, in partnership with the independent nonprofit organization Artistry.

The artists’ designs are intended to inspire an emotional connection in viewers and will be visible and “readable” to people passing by on bikes, on foot and in cars. The artists will play with the three-dimensional rectangular shape of the box, incorporate sculptural elements or extensions, and create designs that respond to the specific location or reflect the past, present or future of the South Loop District.

The utility box projects will be a demonstration to test the use of wraps and other materials on city utility boxes on an ongoing basis. As many other communities have discovered, transforming utility boxes into vehicles for artistic expression has produced several benefits: reducing graffiti, beautifying neighborhoods, and creating elements of surprise and delight.

Utility boxes are located in Bloomington’s South Loop District at the following locations:
  • Killebrew Drive & 22nd Avenue: Artist Teresa Cox, 2 boxes
  • Lindau Lane & 30th Avenue: Artist Erik Sletten, 5 boxes
  • E. Old Shakopee Road & 28th Avenue: Artist Jesse Golfis, 1 box

The City, Artistry and other key partners are working together to build a sense of community in Bloomington through creative placemaking. An array of projects, including a mural, sculptures and live performances took place in the South Loop in 2015. Art Gate, by sculptor Alexander Tylevich, will be installed near the corner of 24th Avenue and Lindau Lane across from Mall of America in spring 2017. The six-foot tall, 20-foot long bronze and steel sculpture is an artistic interpretation of Bloomington’s important role as an international travel destination and represents the area’s wildlife, natural beauty and diversity. 

About the South Loop District 

The South Loop is a rapidly developing neighborhood in Bloomington, which is adjacent to Minneapolis/St. Paul International Airport, and home to Mall of America, Bloomington Central Station and the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. By 2020, on a typical day the South Loop will have 6,000 residents, 9,000 hotel guests, 35,000 employees and 115,000 Mall of America visitors. For more information, visit the City's website

About Creative Placemaking 

Creative Placemaking in the South Loop is a project of the City of Bloomington and Artistry. Creative Placemaking leverages the arts to help shape and revitalize the physical, social, and economic character of neighborhoods, cities and towns, making use of their existing human, physical, social, and economic assets. Creative Placemaking engages artists and others in building social fabric and local economies while making physical place-based improvements. It highlights the distinctive character and creative and cultural resources of each place.