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A Baltimore artist has painted dozens of salt boxes across a...

This box painted to resemble local favorite Old Bay seasoning may make passersby yearn for summertime feasts of crabs drenched in the signature spice mix. “That’s the only salt box where I painted the actual lid instead of decorating a yellow plywood panel that attaches to the front of the box,” Ames said. “I was painting the lid bright red while people were passing by, and no one questioned what I was doing.”
(Barbara Haddock Taylor)

A Baltimore artist has painted dozens of salt boxes across the city. Take a look at some of our favorites.

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The artist Juliet Ames has always loved salt boxes because she has always loved snow. She says she looks forward to the day every fall when the boxes appear on street corners because she thinks “it means that a snow day could be around the corner.”

She’d always wanted to decorate one, especially the boxes that lacked even the stenciled words “salt box.”

“They looked sad,” she said. “A naked salt box needs a dress.”

Fearful of getting into trouble for damaging city property, she restrained herself — until the day in mid-December when she found herself contemplating a criminally unadorned salt box in Hampden. Snow was in the forecast.

“I knew it had to be this box,” she said. “That night, I Tweeted the picture of the decorated box out ... and said, ‘Somebody vandalized the salt box.”

The next day, she received an email from the city’s Department of Transportation.

“We told her that we loved the salt boxes and that we looked forward to seeing more as long as they have a salt theme or highlight something special in the surrounding neighborhood," said German Vigil, communications manager for the DOT. Ames didn’t need more encouragement.

“That was the best possible outcome,” she said. “At that point, I figured it was ‘Game on.’

In the past two months, more than 100 of the decorated salt boxes have appeared around Baltimore, including more than 25 adorned by Ames herself. The boxes celebrate such iconic Baltimore figures as the filmmaker John Waters, the Natty Boh logo and the googly-eyed Mr. Trash Wheel.

Below is a guide to a dozen salt boxes that are making city residents smile.
(Mary Carole McCauley)
West Franklin Street and Cathedral Street, Mount Vernon
Literary icon Edgar Allan Poe stares out moodily from the front of a salt box across the street from the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central Branch. And yes, that’s a raven perched atop his head — a nod to the Bard of Baltimore’s most famous poem and its cryptically croaking bird. “I was trying to subtly work in a reference to “nevermore,” Ames said, “because there is never more salt. A lot of the boxes have been empty this year.”
Literary icon Edgar Allan Poe stares out moodily from the front of a salt box across the street from the Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central Branch. And yes, that’s a raven perched atop his head — a nod to the Bard of Baltimore’s most famous poem and its cryptically croaking bird. “I was trying to subtly work in a reference to “nevermore,” Ames said, “because there is never more salt. A lot of the boxes have been empty this year.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Walker Avenue and Weidner Avenue, Lake Walker
“I love the Morton Salt Girl,” Ames said of the umbrella-holding lass in the yellow dress, inexplicably trailing a shower of salt in her wake during a downpour. The Morton Salt Girl, who first appeared in company advertisements in 1914 and is still going strong more than 100 years later, seemed a natural fit for one of Ames’ salt boxes. “I have a tattoo of the Morton Salt Girl on my leg that I got five or six years ago,” Ames said. “I like her imagery, I love to cook, and we always had canisters of Morton salt when I was growing up.”
“I love the Morton Salt Girl,” Ames said of the umbrella-holding lass in the yellow dress, inexplicably trailing a shower of salt in her wake during a downpour. The Morton Salt Girl, who first appeared in company advertisements in 1914 and is still going strong more than 100 years later, seemed a natural fit for one of Ames’ salt boxes. “I have a tattoo of the Morton Salt Girl on my leg that I got five or six years ago,” Ames said. “I like her imagery, I love to cook, and we always had canisters of Morton salt when I was growing up.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Walker Avenue and Loch Raven Boulevard, Idlewood
Ames stenciled white flowers beneath the graceful letters “Salt Box” as a tribute to patterns found on old Pyrex casserole dishes — designs she frequently incorporates into her own artwork. “I make a lot of jewelry out of recycled Pyrex,” Ames said. “The old dishes from the 1950s and ’60s in particular have really cool patterns.”
Ames stenciled white flowers beneath the graceful letters “Salt Box” as a tribute to patterns found on old Pyrex casserole dishes — designs she frequently incorporates into her own artwork. “I make a lot of jewelry out of recycled Pyrex,” Ames said. “The old dishes from the 1950s and ’60s in particular have really cool patterns.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Biddle Street and North Charles Street, Mid-Town Belvedere
The Cab Calloway salt box depicts the jazz legend looking over his shoulder and warbling a version of his trademark “hi-de-ho.” Ames said, “I first learned about Cab Calloway from a Janet Jackson video in the 1990s. My mom was so excited. She told me, ‘Oh, he’s from Baltimore!’ Even though Cab technically wasn’t technically born here, we like to claim him.” Calloway spent his teen years in a home in the 2200 block of Druid Hill Ave. that was demolished last fall despite activists’ protests.
The Cab Calloway salt box depicts the jazz legend looking over his shoulder and warbling a version of his trademark “hi-de-ho.” Ames said, “I first learned about Cab Calloway from a Janet Jackson video in the 1990s. My mom was so excited. She told me, ‘Oh, he’s from Baltimore!’ Even though Cab technically wasn’t technically born here, we like to claim him.” Calloway spent his teen years in a home in the 2200 block of Druid Hill Ave. that was demolished last fall despite activists’ protests. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Keswick Road and West 36th Street, Hampden
This box depicts the Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe — better known as Salt Bae — who became an internet sensation in 2017 for his habit of sprinkling salt from his fingertips onto his lower arm, and then letting the crystals fall onto a dish. “He’s just so dramatic in how he seasons his food,” Ames said. “In this box, I think of him as sprinkling a little love onto Baltimore.”
This box depicts the Turkish chef Nusret Gökçe — better known as Salt Bae — who became an internet sensation in 2017 for his habit of sprinkling salt from his fingertips onto his lower arm, and then letting the crystals fall onto a dish. “He’s just so dramatic in how he seasons his food,” Ames said. “In this box, I think of him as sprinkling a little love onto Baltimore.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
1300 block of Park Avenue, Bolton Hill
The preternaturally cool figure lounging on a salt box is none other than F. Salt Fitzgerald, modeled on the famous author who wrote his 1934 novel, “Tender Is the Night” while he was living in Baltimore. “I decided to have him recline while drinking a martini,” Ames said. Bookworms will note the title of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, “The Great Gatsby” on the salt box, with the “y” doubling as the martini glass.
The preternaturally cool figure lounging on a salt box is none other than F. Salt Fitzgerald, modeled on the famous author who wrote his 1934 novel, “Tender Is the Night” while he was living in Baltimore. “I decided to have him recline while drinking a martini,” Ames said. Bookworms will note the title of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s most famous novel, “The Great Gatsby” on the salt box, with the “y” doubling as the martini glass. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Sulgrave Avenue and Newbury Street, Mount Washington
This box painted to resemble local favorite Old Bay seasoning may make passersby yearn for summertime feasts of crabs drenched in the signature spice mix. “That’s the only salt box where I painted the actual lid instead of decorating a yellow plywood panel that attaches to the front of the box,” Ames said. “I was painting the lid bright red while people were passing by, and no one questioned what I was doing.”
This box painted to resemble local favorite Old Bay seasoning may make passersby yearn for summertime feasts of crabs drenched in the signature spice mix. “That’s the only salt box where I painted the actual lid instead of decorating a yellow plywood panel that attaches to the front of the box,” Ames said. “I was painting the lid bright red while people were passing by, and no one questioned what I was doing.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Cathedral Street and Madison Street, Mount Vernon
Adjacent to the Baltimore School for the Arts is one of its most famous alumni. His hat on backwards, quizzical eyes hooded, mouth open as if preparing to speak is none other than Salt Pac Shakur. (Salt Shaker, get it?) Tupac Shakur studied acting at the high school in the 1980s, where, according to his former teachers, the soon-to-be-renowned rapper had a special gift for performing Shakespeare.
Adjacent to the Baltimore School for the Arts is one of its most famous alumni. His hat on backwards, quizzical eyes hooded, mouth open as if preparing to speak is none other than Salt Pac Shakur. (Salt Shaker, get it?) Tupac Shakur studied acting at the high school in the 1980s, where, according to his former teachers, the soon-to-be-renowned rapper had a special gift for performing Shakespeare. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
36th Street and Roland Avenue, Hampden
This is the first salt box Ames created. “Five years ago I worked on a project where I made alphabet letters out of pieces of broken china, and I thought I could do that for this salt box,” Ames said. “I didn’t want to vandalize city property. So, instead of putting the china letters on the box, I cut out a plywood panel. I painted it yellow, attached the letters and propped the panel against the front of the box.” That’s been her M.O. ever since.
This is the first salt box Ames created. “Five years ago I worked on a project where I made alphabet letters out of pieces of broken china, and I thought I could do that for this salt box,” Ames said. “I didn’t want to vandalize city property. So, instead of putting the china letters on the box, I cut out a plywood panel. I painted it yellow, attached the letters and propped the panel against the front of the box.” That’s been her M.O. ever since. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
York Road and Rosebank Avenue, Rosebank
A stylized S stands not for the nearby Senator Theatre but for the all-female hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa. “When I started designing the boxes, I was looking for salt themes,” Ames said. “When I was 13, I loved Salt-N-Pepa. I’d sing along to their songs while I was roller-skating.”
A stylized S stands not for the nearby Senator Theatre but for the all-female hip-hop group Salt-N-Pepa. “When I started designing the boxes, I was looking for salt themes,” Ames said. “When I was 13, I loved Salt-N-Pepa. I’d sing along to their songs while I was roller-skating.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Eutaw Place and Robert Street, Bolton Hill
An elaborate frame on this salt box surrounding the stylized image of a naked, blue woman is a viewer’s first clue that the box celebrates a work of art. “This is my homage to the Cone sisters,” Ames said. The salt box is located near the Marlborough apartments, where the art collectors Claribel and Etta Cone lived in the early 20th century and displayed their fabulous art collection. They later donated the artworks to the Baltimore Museum of Art, including hundreds of paintings and drawings created by the 19th-century French master Henri Matisse.
An elaborate frame on this salt box surrounding the stylized image of a naked, blue woman is a viewer’s first clue that the box celebrates a work of art. “This is my homage to the Cone sisters,” Ames said. The salt box is located near the Marlborough apartments, where the art collectors Claribel and Etta Cone lived in the early 20th century and displayed their fabulous art collection. They later donated the artworks to the Baltimore Museum of Art, including hundreds of paintings and drawings created by the 19th-century French master Henri Matisse. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
Union Avenue and Falls Road, Hampden
The pink flamingo with the word “salt” written across it was intended to amuse Ames’ friends and neighbors in the Hampden neighborhood where her studio is located. Flamingos are a Thing in Hampden. One pink bird known as “the traveling flamingo” mysteriously moves from yard to yard in the middle of the night and under cover of darkness. “A lot of people walk around and post pictures of every flamingo they come across in Hampden,” Ames said. “I left this one for them to find.”
The pink flamingo with the word “salt” written across it was intended to amuse Ames’ friends and neighbors in the Hampden neighborhood where her studio is located. Flamingos are a Thing in Hampden. One pink bird known as “the traveling flamingo” mysteriously moves from yard to yard in the middle of the night and under cover of darkness. “A lot of people walk around and post pictures of every flamingo they come across in Hampden,” Ames said. “I left this one for them to find.” (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
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