Remember that dull gray utility box on the corner of Fifth and H streets in Eureka? No? Well, it makes sense if you haven’t noticed it. The thing wasn’t very noticeable. But drive by today and you can’t miss it.
“I kind of want people to do a double-take,” said artist Genevieve St. Charles Monet (yes, that’s her real name). She recently finished painting the municipal metal cabinet canary yellow with racing stripes and, across the southeast corner, a towering double cheeseburger complete with lettuce, tomatoes and a couple of pink-frosted, rainbow-sprinkled donuts for a bun.
St. Charles Monet hopes the Luther burger image will arouse hunger, curiosity and confusion. “Food is a great vessel for that.” she said.
Aptly titled “Donut Cheeseburger,” the piece is the first of at least a dozen Eureka utility boxes slated for makeovers. The makeovers are part of the city’s strategic arts plan, a five-year endeavor that includes a series of projects, financed through public and private funds and implemented in phases.
Recently crowned one of California’s 14 official “cultural districts,” downtown Eureka will soon feature even more public art. Plans include street pianos, art crosswalks, mini libraries and “arts in the park” programs.
The city is still looking for sponsors to help finance future utility box paint jobs.
As for the Cheeseburger Donut, it fits into St. Charles Monet’s oeuvre, which includes a lot of pop culture touchstones and hipster junk food: You want Prince-themed La Croix cans? Check. Drippy pop tarts on a custom skate deck? Got you covered. Crushed Rainier beer can stickers? Boom.
Now living in Seattle and working as a freelance artist, St. Charles Monet grew up in Arcata and said she heard about Eureka’s utility box project via social media. She submitted her design idea and it was approved, though it took about a year to bring the vision to fruition.
“I’m really excited to see what other artists do with the boxes,” she said. “And I’m super pumped to see something very boring become un-boring.”
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