DO NOT BEWARE OF ART ON UTILITY BOXES. THESE ARE A PHONE CALL TO YOUR UTILITY COMPANY AWAY. Rather, beware or aware of important stickers, get the permissions and paint away.
That’s probably news to a lot of owners who hate the necessary nuisance a utility box can be. In the past, this has been deemed too difficult to burn calories by utility providers. But now, the people have spoken and won’t put up with a utilitarian box that encourages property damage when art is the simple solution. This is easier than it once was to accomplish with City Art Programs taking back their signal light boxes and leading the way.
The conversation you’re going to have with the phone, cable, electrical or other company is going to be about the signage, keyholes and doors. These are the small things that make this box work when people are working on it. To a veteran artist, that’s pretty common sense stuff. You wouldn’t want a non-functioning box or sticky doors that later crack to open. The conversation you want to have with your professional artist is about prepping the box for the best execution and result afterwards. Like a magician, I will not show you my tricks but it’s fairly involved.
Private Residents, I’m sorry. Working with the City agencies is a little more difficult and burns a more calories, but please carb up and do it. Reach out to your councilman or city hall and get that ball rolling. The reward is worth it and fairly permanent.
These privately sponsored projects do a lot for a Community and its walkability. The warmth is often overwhelming. This program has been so well received that the utility companies have had to fall in line.
Once ran by Art Commissioner Tina Morrill, Cherri Lakey of Two Fish Designs and long time San Jose culture curator now runs the program for the City of San Jose. Lots of other cities have followed this lead. These small public art projects provide emerging artists with opportunities and helps them develop relationships with these governmental groups. This is really the first step into Public Art for young artists out there looking for exposure and opportunities.
In either instance, though, this pop of public art greets pedestrians, provokes engagement of formerly dead space and deters vandalism almost absolutely. I can count on 1 hand the stories I’ve heard of art boxes getting defaced.
Here are some artful boxes I’ve done.