Chicago Cool: Recycled Refrigerators Become Street Art

Peas are traditionally kept inside refrigerators. That is, if you go the conventional route.

Leo Burnett has a more novel approach. The shop asked city-based artists to take an old refrigerator and transform it into a work of art, which would be displayed on Michigan Avenue between Chicago and Illinois Streets through Sept. 15. Not a bad way to send off a trusted appliance.

The art exhibit, dubbed Fine Art Fridge, raises awareness for ComEd's appliance recycling program, developed in 2007.

Nine artists were selected from hundred of applicants to redesign a refrigerator in one month.

"Since ComEd is a local utility, we decided all the artists had to be within the ComEd service area," said Brian Shembeda, senior vice president, creative director/ art director at Leo Burnett. "When you combine refrigerators that were recycled within the community with Chicagoland artists, it gives the project a strong community feel and helps reinforce the importance of green projects on a local level."

Artists were paid a small stipend to cover the cost of art materials. Once each fridge was completed, bases were installed a week later.

The end results are impressive. Most refrigerators were revamped in their standard, upright position. Mike Helberg's "Running Down out to Pasture" features old, dirty shoes affixed to a fridge and spouting plants. Victoria Fuller's "Peas and Quiet" depicts a green refrigerator with oversized peas in a pod covering the front doors.

Larry Grobe designed my favorite entry. He took a 1950s Philco fridge, turned it on its side and crafted a "VooDoo Hot Rod." It's the one piece that doesn't look like a refrigerator at first glance.

There was no paid advertising to support the initiative but the Greater Northern Michigan Avenue Association and ComEd promoted the campaign on their Web sites, explained Sarah Paulsen, vice president, account director at Leo Burnett. "A plaque is displayed on each piece highlighting the appliance recycling program at ComEd to inform passersby of the details and a little bit about the fridge and its artist."

See the entire fridge collection here. A podcast was also created featuring the artists' describing the campaign in their own words.

Once the campaign concludes, the refrigerators will be moved to other locations within the ComEd service territory.

1 comment about "Chicago Cool: Recycled Refrigerators Become Street Art ".
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  1. Dave Kohl from First In Promotions, August 30, 2010 at 4:20 p.m.

    Gives a whole new meaning to "cold calling"!!

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