The City of Martinez announced Monday the launch of its Utility Box Art Beautification Project aimed to spruce up utility boxes with local art and enhance the beauty of downtown and the Alhambra Avenue central corridor for years to come.
Perceiving the dull metal boxes encasing wires and machinery as opportunities rather than eyesores, the City’s Park, Recreation, Marina, and Cultural Commission (PRMCC) recommended that the City transform the boxes into metal canvasses to showcase public art. City staff and the PRMCC collaborated to inventory 54 of the City’s utility boxes and select seven for a pilot project based on ownership, location, size, and visibility.
To promote community input and involvement during the selection of the artwork, the City held 11 public meetings with the PRMCC and City Council between August 2019 and May 2020 to incorporate feedback into the drafting of the Call for Artists to solicit design concepts, the locations of the pilot utility boxes, and the final artwork selections.
After receiving 64 design submissions from 24 artists, all of the applicants were invited to present their designs to the PRMCC Cultural and Arts Subcommittee and the public. Following a robust discussion and some difficult decisions, the PRMCC recommended a mix of graphic art and hand-painted designs to reflect diverse art styles for Martinez residents and visitors to enjoy.
The final designs were then approved by the City Council. If this pilot project is well received by the community and additional funding is identified, the City may publish a subsequent Call for Artists to expand the number of beautified utility boxes.