When was the last time you noticed a utility box?
It’s probably been a while. In fact, there are most likely many people who couldn’t point out a utility box if they were dared to. This isn’t because they’ve never seen one; it’s because they’ve never noticed one. And why would they? Utility boxes, used to store cables, traffic-light control mechanisms and other equipment that keeps communities running smoothly, are designed strictly for functionality, not beauty. They are about as plain as paper.
Artists around the world are changing this. They are converting utility boxes into things of beauty, and cities are following suit.
Utility Box Art Is Transforming Cities
1. Controls vandalism – As mentioned above, utility boxes typically go unnoticed. That is, except by city workers and vandals. For a vandal, a utility box is the perfect easel on which to display hateful messages and non-artistic graffiti. However, if utility boxes are decorated, there is a lesser chance that they will be vandalized.
2. Incites creativity in people – Besides controlling vandalism, utility box art has a way of bringing out the inner creative in many different types of people. Perhaps it is a utility box’s humble nature that makes a person feel welcomed to try their hand at decorating it. Mary Altman, public arts administrator in Minneapolis’ Community Planning and Economic Development department, told Bill Lendeke, “There’s something about the box form that makes people approach it in a very creative way.”
3. Gives communities a personal identity – Color reveals the personality of people, cultures, communities, schools, etc. A community scattered with beautifully decorated utility boxes is a community with a strong personal identity.
Utility Box in California Honors Young Girl
Decorated utility boxes do so much more than spruce up a community; they also pay homage to amazing individuals. In San Diego, California, a utility box stands as a monument to a young girl named Karina Fares. Fares passed on due to an accident that took place during a vacation to Mexico.
To honor her, an artist turned a regular utility box into an incredible memorial of her life. The utility box was painted in Rancho Bernardo’s Westwood subdivision. Who would have thought that a utility box would bring some degree of comfort to a community grieving the loss of a precious young girl? The power of art is simply incredible.
Cities Implement Utility Box Art Programs
Because city governments see the value in utility box art, community leaders around the globe have implemented utility box art programs. These programs encourage artists of all levels to submit proposals to turn regular utility boxes into works of art for the betterment of the community. Salt Lake City, Glendale, Boston, Redwood City, and San Jose are just a few of the cities that have a formal program for utility box art.
Utility box art has the potential to transform cities and impact lives, but not many people, even art enthusiasts, know about it. Help us get the word out by sharing this post on Facebook or Twitter.
Are there any spectacular utility boxes in your city? If not, what are you waiting for? Let your local government know you’d like to see a utility box art program implemented!
Read more Segmation blog posts about art and color:
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