Joel Mielke / Thursday, Aug. 10, 2017 @ 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: