Project hopes to change parking meters to art for the environment
By Jennifer Standard Edited by Doug Fisher
Those old parking meters you used to plunk change into and turn to get the time have been replaced by electronic meters, but they could come back to life as art to benefit a local environmental group.
A local television station is looking for artists like Anastasia Chernoff to turn the meters into art, which will be auctioned off to support Columbia's Climate Protection Action Campaign.
In her "Nest Egg," displayed at the Green is Good for Business Conference Tuesday at the Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center, Chernoff has topped the meter head with a nest of recycled wire filled with pennies. Pennies falling through fingers coming out of the nest "represent the waste that is seen in society," Chernoff says, bulding on the idea that the meters don't take the 1-cent coins.
Columbia donated 125 of the outdated meters to WACH-TV.
Station marketing executive Kacey Mattox says the meters-turned-art will be auctioned at a December exhibit – people will vote for the ones they like by putting money in them. The only requirement on the artists is that the finished piece has to be able to collect that change.
The money will be donated to the climate protection campaign, a 4-year-old volunteer group that focuses on air quality, energy and water conservation, and recycling.
The "Change for Change" project is a "neat way for the city to get rid of something that would normally go into a landfill," said Mary Pat Baldauf, a spokeswoman for the environmental group.
Any unsold meters will go back into the community as public art similar to the painted steel palmetto trees that dotted the city's landscape a few years ago.
The meter heads were left over from the 2005 switch to electronic meters and 2008 upgrades made for security reasons, city parking director John Spade said.
Not all the city's electronic meters are completely new. Some are the old meter shells with new electronic innards. The outsides may be as much as 50 years old, but they "have many years left," Spade said.
Columbia also has about 1,200 meters in storage for spare parts or for donations to cities still using the old version.