Maricopa’s intersections started looking a little more vibrant over the Memorial Day weekend.

Artists began installing their work on 11 otherwise drab traffic signal control boxes in Maricopa on Sunday as part of a public art initiative commissioned by the city. The installations are happening through the month of June.

Surrounded by art and cleaning supplies, Veronika Leshchinskaya paints primer onto a traffic signal control box near Honeycutt Road and Maricopa Groves Parkway on May 29, 2023. The multimedia artist said being selected for the public art initiative was ‘a dream come true.’ Monica D. Spencer/InMaricopa

Veronika Leshchinskaya, a Senita resident, was one of the artists selected. On Sunday, the multimedia artist began painting a signal box on Honeycutt Road and Maricopa Groves Parkway with a piece titled “Blissful Joyride.” She wanted to create artwork that reflected positive memories in the neighborhood.

“My daughter and I go on bike rides all the time here,” Leshchinskaya said. “I thought of doing a bike riding scene because that’s a piece of Maricopa: families going bike riding … and enjoying the nice weather and the scenery.”

The four-panel acrylic artwork features a mother and daughter riding bicycles down a quiet residential street covered in blooming trees and bushes. Leshchinskaya spent the weekend cleaning, priming, sketching and painting the artwork on the signal box.

For Leshchinskaya, public art does more than just look pretty. It’s a cultural investment in the area and showcases identity.

“You show that art matters because it’s right there in your own neighborhood,” Leshchinskaya said. “I think that’s incredible when you drive through Tempe or other cities that have huge murals. You’re able to say a lot about the community that lives there.”

Sandy Merrill, a resident of the nearby Villages at Rancho El Dorado agreed. She stopped to watch the progress Sunday afternoon and expressed her delight in seeing more public art go up around Maricopa.

“I love it, it’s eye-catching and makes the city youthful,” Merrill said. “I appreciate this kind of stuff. Plus, I’ll be able to see it all the time going in and out of my neighborhood.”

While Leshchinskaya works full-time as a project manager for a cellphone carrier, being selected for the initiative fulfilled her recent commitment to showing more of her art.

“I’ve been drawing since I was a kid but in the last couple years, I decided to branch out, dive back into the art world and get more of my work out there,” she said. “It makes me so happy (to have been chosen). It was like a dream come true.”