In the two hours Peter Zierlein spent painting a black and white design onto a bright blue transformer box on Pleasant St. passersby smiled and pointed. Zierlein, who recently returned to Western Massachusetts after a brief time in Southern California, is piloting a project with the Northampton Arts Council that would allow local artists to paint many of the city's transformers.
A former illustrator for publications like the New York Times and the Boston Globe, Peter is now shifting his focus to public art.
"I'm interested in keeping Northampton the artsy kind of town that I found it to be when I first came here twelve or thirteen years ago."
In 2013, Zierlein was commissioned to paint three utility boxes and two street light control boxes in Boston.
The Pleasant St. design, a sweating cyclist between two trains, is a nod to nearby Northampton fixtures Union Station and the bike trail.
"I think by painting [the transformer] and making it stand out and by beautifying it you turn the place into a some-place, into something that people can talk about. Maybe they're inspired to paint their own mural somewhere. I think it's a great and inexpensive way to improve the cityscape."
View more of Peter Zierlein's public art here.