Electric utility boxes don’t have to look utilitarian and these creatively painted examples illustrate art’s power to beautify urban neighborhoods.
What’s in the box? Your guess is as good as Amy Johnquest’s and since she was the artist commissioned to paint this utility box in Easthampton, MA, she oughta know! Situated at 50 Payson Avenue, the artwork approved by the Easthampton City Arts and the Massachusetts Cultural Council was completed in August of 2015
Johnquest’s bold interpretation of the utility box’s innards is“suggestive of a circus poster” according to the Photo-ops blog but one must admit, the design is both appealing and timeless. Well, except for the date.
Pleasanton Gets Pleasanter
In the summer of 2014, the City of Pleasanton’s Community Services Department, Civic Arts Division introduced Project Paint Box. The first phase of the program invited selected local artists to transform 6 traffic utility boxes in and around the downtown area into bonafide works of art. One of the chosen artists, Lisa Hoffman, brings us a rare two-fer:“The Outlet” and “Florescent Bulb”, which can be found just off Telegraph Avenue at 30th Street.
Articulating Culture With Art
The city of Calgary, Canada “is still trying to articulate without artifice, its natural history, environment and cultural heritage beyond just cowboys and oil wells,” according to Jean of the Cycle Write Blog. One way of accomplishing this noble aim is to enlist local artists to express their vision of the Canadian city’s culture through their art – via city-owned electric utility boxes. Above are both sides of such a box located near the Erlton LRT station.
Commissioned by the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency, artist Mona Caron’s “Manifestation Station” projects a visionary streetscape onto a utility vault at the intersection of Church St. and Duboce Ave. While striking in and of itself, Caron’s artworkworks on a number of levels.
“If you look at this box from a specific point and distance,” the artist explains, “its perspective lines will match the background, providing a glimpse into an alternative reality.” Compounding the illusion, an earlier installation by Caron entitled “Duboce Bikeway Mural” can be seen spreading across the Safeway store’s left front facade.
Public projects like the one commissioned by Providence’s Department of Art, Culture and Tourism help channel youthful artistic creativity in a positive direction. Take this transformer box at the Elmwood Ave West entrance to Roger Williams Park.
Nothing Shocking In Taipei
The art of decorating electric utility boxes seems to be a worldwide phenomenon though as Brian Hsu of Brian Goes To Town observes in Taipei, Taiwan, “just about every box that has been painted features a brightly colored, somewhat kitschy landscape that wouldn’t be out of place in a childrens’ book. Even so,” qualifies Hsu, “it’s an interesting concept that to some degree adds a touch of ‘friendliness’ to otherwise rather utilitarian streetscapes.”
The transformer boxes in Auckland, New Zealand bore an uncanny resemblance to dumpsters – both in shape and in hue – until the city asked local artists to paint them. Mandy Patmore is responsible for several of the city’s aesthetically improved electric utility boxes, one of which (in Glengarry Road near the intersection with West Coast Road) is shown above. One might say it was a fruitful undertaking.
We’re not quite sure why but the majority of electric utility box artwork trends towards folk art even though the works are by accredited, professional artists. Then there’s Gwilym Devey of Wellington, New Zealand, who “painted a local transformer box with a couple of friends one sunny day over the summer break” in 2015.
Devey doesn’t mention if the “Jolly Critter” was commissioned by local municipal authorities or not – for all we know, he and his buds brainstormed the idea and made it happen all on their own. Kids these days! Regardless, there’s no denying their raw talent and one would hope said authorities will allow their work to remain in place.
These painted “distribution boxes” hail from Rostock, Germany, and were captured for our viewing pleasure by Flickr user Patrick Scholl on July 19th of 2014. The city is situated on Germany’s Baltic Sea coast and its long history of maritime activity is celebrated on these and other decorated transformers.
Pop Culture In Pawtucket
The City Of Pawtucket, RI’s utility box art project saw dozens of large and small electrical utility boxes painted by a selection of local artists.Studio EtipsOne submitted and had approved several designs in October of 2014; by the end of May 2015 both boxes were, shall we say, transformed.
“How do I hide this ugly box?,” asked one frustrated homeowner, and since he posted his question on the internet at Houzz he’s received a LOT of suggestions. The most ingenuous yet obvious solution comes courtesy of RJM Design Inc., who provides graphic advice on how to give those frustrations an, er, outlet.
via – weburbanist