Why Manhole Covers? (instead of portraits or landscapes?)

The question most people ask is “Why did you ever pick such a ridiculous theme?”  Some people even shake their heads when they think about the mundane iron covers we all walk over.

Well it all began when I was a Mom going back to college to study art. I experimented in every style and medium possible.

SpiralsMaster Printer, Dan Welden advised me to settle on one style or medium.  The distinguished professor of Art Histor,  Lawrence Alloway looked at my little album of art creations and said,  “You have a penchant for circles!” The spray painting work (right) is called “Spirals.”

Eureka! I discovered two pages  containing manhole cover photographs!  Wow!  “What a perfect theme!” That was 1979 and I am still doing “Grate Works!”

 Tempus Fugit SunBurst  Whirpool Galaxy
Tempus Fugit Sunburst Whirpool Galaxy

Above: Early “Mod Works” with circular themes.

24 Responses to “Why Manhole Covers? (instead of portraits or landscapes?)”

  1. Peggy Bell Says:

    You are ‘SooooIn’ now – circle themes can be seen in fabric and wallpaper patterns.

  2. Pauline Says:

    Circles feel good to look at. The line embraces itself. I can see why you were drawn to it in the first place.
    And I personally like manhole covers and can see it as normal that you chose them as your medium.
    Maybe mandalas have been your subject all along.

  3. Al Mastrangelo Says:

    The site is great.


  4. Neva Says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    That is so interesting. I had a similar experience at Southampton College
    when I took a design course.

  5. Kathy Wheeler Says:

    Love your Spirals. The variation of colors is fascinating. You have answered a question I had . Great work. Kathy

  6. Gloria Jackson Says:

    Nicely done!

  7. Patty Colombraro Says:

    Hi Bobbi…love it…..how are you??? Miss ya!

  8. Nancy Wibben Says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    this is why I was always inspired to work with you! You have such a wonderful spirit, and enthusiasm for life!! What a lovely website you created, and I always enjoy looking at your masterpieces!! God has blessed you with a unique and very gifted talent. Continue to “shine your light” onto others so they may see God’s “grate” “works” in you!!
    My very best to you,
    Nancy Wibben

  9. Judie Says:

    Dear Bobbi,
    Thank you for the update on your web site. It is so exciting to see all that you are doing, in addition to what has already happened in your career. You amaze me, how do you think of these themes and then execute them?
    You are my mentor!!!

    Your sister, Judie

  10. Sandy Wicker Says:


    Dear Bobbi,
    Wonderful! Another “grate” bobbi-ism comes to fruition!
    My computer doesn’t go to all places, but what I saw was exciting.
    Much good luck–and love,
    Your forever fan,

  11. Maureen Smith Says:

    Your subject matter is very interesting. I can’t go by now without taking a picture of a manhole cover. You would think that Disney would have an interesting manhole cover. You might want to design one for them based on your background. You might earn some $$ for this endeaver. If you are interested, call me and we will see who you should contact.

  12. kathy glascott Says:

    I’ve seen your work in a gallery – and I really love it! to see something as ordinary as a manhole cover through the eyes of an artist is so enriching. It makes everything in my life more beautiful… you turn the world onto the beauty around us.

  13. fernando valverde Says:


    you have an excellent web page,
    very professional…

    in 2 words: very creative


  14. Doug Leffert Says:

    Just Great! So glad you sent this msg. to me. I know from visiting your little studio you work very hard and serious at this creative idea. I would like to tell others Bobbi’s work is one word “PERFECT”

    Bobbi. as you know Sandy & I just moved to Arkansas and I have two grates along my front walkway … one with a large bass or trout in the center… I will try and send a picture via e-mail…

    Your friend Doug L.

  15. Ellen Gordon Says:

    Dear Bobbi,
    I really like your new blog! You’ve worked so hard to get it together. Thanks for sharing.
    Your best fan,
    Ellen Gordon

  16. Alvaro tarin de la cruz Says:

    Hello my friend bobbi,

     i am alvaro from spain , felicidades , congratulations.  i liked the spirales muchisimo. me gusta todo lo que haces.

    un saludo desde españa.  alvaro

  17. Rosie Collins Says:

    Hello Bobbi,

    Your new blog will be different and interesting, for, as the saying goes, “Variety is the Spice of Life”.

    I now know how in your case grate-works was conceived, born out of a spiral thought! But, I’m curious though about how the other enthusiasts of this specific art came into being, e.g. those in Russia, and Japan. Japan’s grate-works are very beautifully designed hence, I believe, was the inspiration of some to replicate them in models, perhaps it was the same in Russia. Forgive me for picking your brain but this is to be thought of as a Grate-Thought!

    May you have very happy moments on your new idea.



  18. Marilyn Says:

    Hi Bobbi,

    The beautiful “Spirals” are new to me. I wish that I had seen them when you were here!!!!

    The Website is informative and very interesting. Right on, Bobbi. You continue to amaze me!!!!

    Marilyn Abt

  19. Tony Handler Says:

    Your concept is certainly unique and very interesting.
    Keep up the “grate” work!!!!

  20. Mimi Melnick Says:

    Dear Bobbi,

    How gratifying to see your unique art work create universal awareness of the striking designs on our street hardware. Thank you for that and for your ongoing support of my book.

    Mimi Melnick
    Author of Manhole Covers (The MIT Press, 1994)

  21. Dorothea Johnson says Says:

    Hi Bobbi,
    You KNOW that I love your work!!
    You are here with me in good memories
    and admiration of your continued sharing of your gifts of art and
    determination. Congratulations for all you do.
    Dorothea Johnson CA USA

  22. WWE Wallpaper Says:

    WWE Wallpaper

    I Googled for painting wallpaper, but found your page about
    Why Manhole Covers? (instead of portraits or landscapes?)…
    and have to say thanks.
    Nice read.


  23. ellen g Says:

    I love the message from Pauline,”circles feel so great. The line embraces itself.” You’ve circled the world with your manholes!
    Fan of yours and PTC student!

  24. metal cutting saw Says:

    Great Post! I personally really like your article. This is a great website. I will make sure that I stop back again!.

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