Fire hydrants as objets d’art? If the concept seems bizarre, then you haven’t been to Milford, Connecticut lately where ninety-nine of the emergency water sources around downtown have been painted in startling colors and clever designs. But if you want to witness these fire plugs in inspired and fanciful attire you’d better go soon. Unfortunately, before long they’ll be repainted lemon yellow. They may be bright in this customary color specified by local ordinance, but relatively dull compared with their current splendor.
Driving into town on business a few weeks ago, I spied a hydrant decked out in red white and blue. The barrel was painted white with red vertical stripes. At first I chalked it up to an isolated case of patriotic enthusiasm. But then I saw another with a floral design, and yet another multi-chromed and whimsically abstract, and still another arrayed as a bearded fisherman in a yellow slicker. There seemed a kind of Midas magic in turning ordinary workaday street furniture into pieces of art. Milford must be full of imaginative, civic minded, and artistic people who care about the place where they live, I thought.