Joel Mielke / @ 3 p.m. / Op-Ed

OP-ED: Please Don’t Decorate Eureka’s Utility Boxes (But Here Are 12 Suggestions if You Must)


An incontinent appreciation for anything labeled “art” has driven cities across the land to decorate previously inconspicuous, almost invisible, metal utility boxes. Eureka, not wishing to be left behind, is embracing this fad with a cattle call to local artists who wish to share their talents at busy intersections.

 

The Utility Box Art program will pay these ambitious creatives $500 per box. The program is designed to “contribute to the vitality and attractiveness of the city, while deterring graffiti,” or at least to substitute unauthorized graffiti for officially sanctioned efforts (as long as they do not contain “advertising, religious art, sexual content, negative imagery, or convey political partisanship”).

This all sounds harmless, right? How could Broadway possibly look any worse? And motorists need something to distract them from their hand-held devices, but as Rainey Knudson, wrote of Houston’s version of this trend, “… when have you ever looked at a blank electrical box on the street and thought, ‘Gee, I wish someone with moderate artistic skills would paint a toucan on that?’” I wonder how great that clumsily-rendered toucan will look when the lurid colors have faded after two years worth of a beating outdoors.

But, in the “de gustibus non disputandum est” spirit, I’m offering some designs of (mostly) my own:


Crocheted Tissue Box Cover 
Lots of patterns available online, or we just buy one on Etsy.

Wallpaper 
If we’re going for decorative, god knows it’s durable—have you ever tried to remove it?

Trompe l’oeil
Visual illusions are a staple of the mural trade.

Butts
A monument to all of those people who hang air fresheners from their rear view mirrors.

Toaster 
A tribute to morning itself.

Homage to the Kinetic Race 
Fire Marshal approval pending.

Vacuum Tubes
I mean, who knows what’s in there?


2nd Amendment 
A tribute to the oft-cited, but poorly-worded Amendment.


Stump 
The rings on the top will tell people how old this utility box is.

Watermelon 
We don’t go for that seedless crap.


Camouflage 
Based on Dodge Ram seat covers.


Free 
Best-selling author, Amy Stewart offered this image, which would make even the busiest intersection look as pleasant as a front yard.


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