All cities have utility and news boxes on sidewalks scattered around town. They vary in size, shape, number and ownership. Frequently they are painted different colors depending upon who owns them. They make good targets for tagging, stickers and paste ups. Every city tackles the graffiti situation according to the scale of the problem within their community. The solutions can be applied citywide or by neighborhood and or ownership and be reactive or proactive, generated by owner, government, neighborhood and business associations, art organizations and even individuals.
In the San Francisco Bay Area several communities have tackled the problem by making the boxes art canvases. Walnut Creek, Berkeley and Oakland have established programs for some of their boxes. In 2013 we wrote about the Kono neighborhood boxes in Oakland conceived by the Kono CBD and the Streets Alive environmental sustainability themed boxes in downtown Berkeley conceived by an individual and administered by Earth Island Institure a non-profit environmental organization.
Recently photo contributor Josh Brotheim who is based in the Peninsula brought the San Jose Art Box program to our attention. This is a citywide initiative that was organized in 2011 by Tina Morrill a then graduate student at San Jose State. Inspired by boxes she had seen in Edmonton, Canada she singlehandedly orchestrated the program devising a plan that would not cost the taxpayer any money. Under the name of Art Box Project SJ the first box was painted in September, 2011 in front of the old Andy’s Pet Shop at The Alameda and Julian Street. It was a dog on a leash with the master. That box was subsequently repainted. There are currently 78 pinned on Google Maps. The sky is the limit. There are 600 or so potential boxes.
Initially Tina approached Cherri Lakey of Anno Domini Gallery and Phantom Galleries with her ideas and solicited support from neighborhood associations. When she had some synergy she approached the City of San Jose for permission to paint on their boxes, which they granted.
The process begins with an available city owned box and a sponsor be it an individual, business or neighborhood. Cherri Lakey vets and recommends artists to Tina. Tina Morrill turns around and presents the artists to the potential sponsors and discusses design concepts. The selected artist has a free hand in creating the art that is shared with the neighborhood for approval with possible tweaks in the design. No letters and political statements are allowed. The artist pay for the supplies and is given a small stipend depending upon the scope of the project.
Learn more about Art Box Project
Artists who are interested in participating: email info@PhantomGalleries.com.
For more information or to participate: firstname.lastname@example.org