EL CENTRO — El Centro City Council members approved the utility box art policy and guidelines during its regular meeting Tuesday, April 20, at City Hall.
Within six months, motorists and residents of El Centro will see the transformation of utility electric traffic boxes into canvases of street art. The boxes are currently painted in monochrome brown or grey paint and are generally unattractive to pedestrians; and a few were observed to have some graffiti markings.
The city-owned utility boxes — located at street corners adjacent to traffic signal lights — will be wrapped with anti-graffiti vinyl materials that will showcase photographs and artwork created by local photographers and artists. The street art will add beauty and vibrant colors to the City’s thoroughfare and urban landscape, according to council members. These locations are visible to pedestrians, cyclists, and motorists. The proposed areas for the pilot project are located north of Interstate 8.
“The budget for the pilot project is $25,000 and would fund about 20 utility boxes,” said Adriana Nava, director of community services. The anti-graffiti vinyl arts are estimated to last and endure natural elements for 5-7 years and will be printed and installed by a local sign company, according to policy and guidelines.
“Selection criteria will include artistic excellence, innovation, and originality,” according to the policy and guidelines. “The Library and Community Services Board will review the art submissions and make recommendations to City staff.”
“No monetary compensation is provided.”
The funding source comes from the Community Development Block Grant and will be implemented through the Graffiti Abatement Program. The budget does not come from the City’s general fund, said Nava.
During Nava’s presentation, Mayor Cheryl Viegas-Walker requested Nava to show completed works in other community jurisdictions. Images displayed by Nava on the chamber’s screen monitors gave the audience an idea of the street beautification project in other cities.
One project showed an electrical utility box wrapped with colorful flowers. Another, with a closeup of a butterfly perched on a flower.
Announcements for the applications will be promoted through social media and by traditional flyers; and are targeted to students, practicing photographers, and artists in the community. Priority is given to El Centro residents, but entries from residents of other cities are also welcome.
Interested photographers and artists may visit www.cityofelcentro.org and select Public Art to access the Public Art Program. Applications may be downloaded.