Baltimore’s salty side is capturing national attention.
Good Morning America is honoring the work of artist Juliet Ames, who has led the transformation of the city’s salt boxes into works of art. Her work was featured on the show Thursday.
“Baltimore is so special to me,” Ames, of Lake Walker, told the show’s producers. “I don’t think could happen really in many other places.
The Good Morning America crew spent several hours with Ames in her studio in Hampden’s Mill Center early this month, Ames said. The segment features some of her most fun designs, including salt boxes that honor the late 92Q DJ K. Swift; jazz singer Billie Holiday; John Water’s muse, Divine; newscaster Denise Koch; and Killer the Cat, who made his Hampden his home (or perhaps his kingdom) until his death a few years ago.
Ames, 42, an artist who makes jewelry from broken pottery, beautified her first salt box in December 2020. City workers put out the yellow wooden boxes each year to make road salt accessible for motorists and pedestrians on icy roads. She tweeted a playful picture of the box and, to her delight, the city’s Department of Transportation responded with an invitation for others to create salt box art.
Since then, Ames has affixed works of art on more than 100 salt boxes. Other artists have taken up the project as well, and Ames estimates another 100 artists have decorated 200 others.
In the warmer months, when the salt boxes go into storage, Ames creates works of art to adorn the city’s myriad abandoned telephone booths. She draws her inspiration from classical works of art, pop culture and uniquely Baltimore traditions. Her work has been written about by many publications, including The New Yorker.
In a phone interview about the TV appearance, Ames said she found television intimidating when her work started drawing attention, but veteran WJZ newscaster Marty Bass helped her feel at ease in front of the camera. Since then, she has been featured on TV six or seven times. But the Good Morning America segment was her most prominent appearance to date.
The crew spent several hours filming her for a segment that will be boiled down to a few moments, she said.
“I feel honored that I get to make this art and everyone is seeing it and sharing it and showing the world how cool Baltimore is,” Ames said in the segment..