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Utility Box Beautification

Posted by terrepruitt on July 21, 2012

dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, NiaOn my way home from teaching my Nia class in San Jose on a bright and beautiful Wednesday morning, I noticed a man at a utility box.  I had seen him out of the corner of my eye so it did not register what he was doing until I was passed the box.  So I looked at him in my review mirror.  I pulled over to the side of the road to be able to really look to see if he was doing what I thought he was doing.  Then I decided to back my car up, park, and get out to see.  It just so happened that the day before I was on my way to the Roosevelt Community Center, and I took a wrong turn and found myself driving around not sure exactly how to get where I wanted to be and I noticed a set of utility boxes.  Do you ever notice utility boxes?  Probably not, huh?  They are one of those things that are not that attractive so we learn to ignore them.  Well, while I was driving around being lost, I noticed them.  There was one that was painted with a bunch of flowers and then the one right next to it looked like a big red rose.  I thought, “Wow!  That is so cool.”  So as I was driving home from Nia and I saw a man painting a utility box, I wanted to see what it was all about.

We talked briefly, he said it was a project in the City of San Jose.  They are lumping it in as an “anti-graffiti” project, but I like to just think of it as disguising something not attractive AND adding beauty at the same time.  The artist, Scott Willis, was sitting on the grass by the box painting it.  He handed me a fact sheet.  I skimmed it and tried to hand it back and he said I could keep it.  (YAY!)  Because now I have the facts to share with you.

The project is “Art Box Project SJ”.  The project goals are to integrate art into San Jose neighborhoods, grow the project throughout San Jose, and “encourage community participation by engaging neighbors, neighborhood associations, and local artists by sponsoring boxes and paying artists a small stipend for their work.”

Dance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, NiaThe benefits are: bringing art into the neighborhoods, encouraging community engagement, offering temporary work for local artists, deterring and/or reducing the blight of graffiti.

Additional information on the fact sheet says the “project was inspired by photos of utility boxes with murals painted on them, taken by self proclaimed “Anit-Man-About-Town” and world traveler Gary Singh (a local Metro News columnist).  It’s being pushed along by Tina Morrill; an idealist [who] believes anything is possible.”

I know San Jose isn’t the first city to do this but I am excited to see these boxes around.  In fact the Fact Sheet states, “According to the Contra Costa Times, Hayward has found their art on utility boxes has reduced graffiti problems by 97%”.  Wow.  Ninety-seven percent.

In addition to the sponsors paying the artists’ stipend they can pay an additional amount to have the box sprayed with an “anti-graffiti coating”.

There are criteria for both the box locations and the art, but that is to be expected and the criteria even makes sense, such as the utility box can’t be on the replacement list.  Nice that they don’t want an artist to spend time beautifying it just so it can be replaced.  And the are must be tasteful, respectful, and not political, commercial, or religious.

While the artist do get paid a small amount I am hoping that it will be advertising for them.  I mean, if you see really compelling work on a utility box maybe it could lead to other things for the artist!

The rose I saw the other day just keeps jumping into my head, it was so gorgeous.  The art I saw on Wednesday was unfinished, I interrupted the artist.  But since it is a box I pass at least twice a week on my way home from my Nia classes in Willow Glen, I will see the work in progress and post pictures upon its completion.  For now you get to see the artist and his work in progress.  I am relating this to health and wellness because beauty causes a good feeling.  It is nice to see the plain utility boxes beautified.ance Exercies, Nia, Nia Campbell, Campbell Nia, Nia classes in Campbell, evening Nia, Nia Teacher, Nia Class, San Jose Nia, Nia San Jose, Nia workout, Nia

Here is the Facebook page for it (click here).

So what do you think of this project?  Do you have something like it in your city?  Would you like to have something like it in your city?

4 Responses to “Utility Box Beautification”

  1. That is really cool! I haven’t seen this around our town. I did notice some painted meters in Laguna when I was there in May. Very pretty!


  2. Michele said

    I, like you – LOVE THIS! We had lots of painted utility boxes in Scotts Valley, I enjoyed them and they always made me smile 🙂 Have not noticed any around Corvallis…I love that you stopped and talked to the artist, and I look forward to seeing the end result!


    • There are? There are painted utility boxes in Scotts Valley? Well, I didn’t usually drive around when I was there, I just visited you. But know that makes me happy. How fun.

      I think I surprised the artist a bit when I stopped by. I noticed on Monday that it was done, but I was in a rush and couldn’t stop so I stopped today and snapped some pictures. It is cute. It is blue (ha, ha, ha,!). I guess I should do a follow up post to show it, huh? I think maybe I will wait and see if I can get more pictures. I know there are some on FB, but I will look for other ones maybe. Hmmmmm . . . . .


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