Bye-bye Boring Gray Utility Boxes

by Jeannette Hartman

painted utility boxes
Artist Laishan Ito created and painted the design for this LADOT utility box at Ventura Boulevard and Carpenter Avenue. She and other local artists have painted more than 100 boxes in Studio City and Sherman Oaks.

Those dull LADOT utility boxes are giving way to an explosion of images and color, thanks to programs by the Sherman Oaks Chamber Foundation and the Studio City Business Improvement District (SCBID). They award local artists grants of up to $450 to design and paint the boxes.

There’s a unicorn at Kester Avenue and Camarillo Street by artist Starlah Burke and a picnic by Trace Johannson on Van Nuys Boulevard at Hortense Street. A sound man by Laura Gonzalez holds a mic over the sidewalk at Ventura Boulevard and Laurel Grove and a movie camera by Juan Gonzales catches the action on Vantage Avenue south of Ventura.

Altogether, local artists have painted more than 100 formerly gray utility boxes in Sherman Oaks and Studio City.

You can learn more in our two-part series about this community art program. We’ll begin with the “Let’s Paint Sherman Oaks” program. Next week, we’ll do “It Happened Here in Studio City.”

Let’s Paint Sherman Oaks

Artist Sandra Vandermay brought the Valley Oak home with her utility box design at Ventura Boulevard and Stern Avenue.

More than 90 utility boxes have been painted through this program sponsored by the Sherman Oaks Chamber Foundation in partnership with Los Angeles City Council District 4.

You’ll spot them along Sepulveda Boulevard, Kester, Van Nuys, Hazeltine Avenue: Monarch butterflies, swimming koi fish, an old fashioned telephone booth, abstract designs and variations of the Valley Oak tree or its leaves.

You can see the full gallery of painted utility boxes in Sherman Oaks, where they are located and the artist who painted them here.

Having either a Valley Oak or one of its leaves in the design is a requirement of the “Let’s Paint Sherman Oaks” program. Other requirements are that the designs be “neighborhood appropriate” and use paint with low amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOC) and that is non-metallic. The designs must be approved by the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Department of Transportation.

Artists whose designs are selected are awarded $450 to paint a large utility box and $350 for a smaller one.

The Chamber Foundation covers the boxes with an anti-graffiti coating and cleans them monthly.

Part 2: “It Happened in Studio City” coming next week.

Keep Reading…

Bye-bye Boring Utility Boxes Part 2: It Happened in Studio City

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