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City's official recognition of salt-box art picks up steam

The first decorated salt box of Baltimore's Salt Box Campaign is unveiled in time for Christmas
Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-08 15:45:43-05

BALTIMORE — Baltimore's yellow salt boxes have been getting a new bout of attention from city officials.

It all started with artist Juliet Ames, whose quirky decorations on salt boxes citywide have gotten national attention. (Most recently, she's branched out into decorating abandoned pay phone booths, which was the focus of a Scripps National story.)

Now city leaders have decided to turn the ubiquitous salt boxes into a legit art project. Last month, the Department of Transportation announced plans to put giant "salt boxes" in local parks specifically for people to decorate.

Mayor Brandon Scott announced the new Salt Box Campaign at the time by jumping out of a huge salt box, and by decorating one with "BMS" and a Wu-Tang Clan symbol to talk about the start of winter preps.

The Salt Box Campaign is starting out with giant boxes at City Hall, Clifton Park, Druid Hill Park, Carroll Park and Patterson Park. The Department of Transportation promised there would be "more to come" this month regarding the campaign.

The DOT said in November:

The beloved salt boxes, which have become quite popular in recent years, are meant for steep hills or areas too narrow for salt trucks to reach during a snow event. This campaign will teach residents about the actual role of the saltbox and how roadways are prioritized for snow removal. Community members and local artists who have painted salt boxes in the past will have the opportunity to help decorate giant saltboxes located in various parks throughout the city.

On Wednesday night, the salt boxes got a special showcase at the Mayor's tree lighting ceremony at City Hall. The city announced their partnership with artist Juliet Ames, and said it's "the first of many official artist collaborations that will run throughout the winter season."

A huge "salt box" was lit up as part of the festivities.

DOT tweeted: "The Salt Box itself became a centerpiece around which everyone wanted to pose to get pictures."

Ames wrote on Facebook: "Considering that I was nervous to hang the first salt box panel because I might get in trouble with the city, it is a huge honor to be invited to decorate a giant salt box that they constructed JUST to celebrate salt box art. At city hall! There will be 4 more art boxes to come, plans are still in the works for January/February. I’m happy to bring a little charm to Charm City, and I’m proud that the humble salt box has come so far."