San Carlos promotes public art project


Emma Romanowsky

Posters on the utility box advertise the project.

Emma Romanowsky, Highlander Editor-in-Chief

Calling all artists: The City of San Carlos is enlisting an artist to repaint a utility box as part of the Utility Box Mural Project.

The Utility Box Mural Project is an ongoing effort in San Carlos to deter graffiti, which began in 2016.

Various artists have painted murals on utility boxes around San Carlos.

Source: City of San Carlos

Currently, the only box being repainted is on the corner of Club Dr. and San Carlos Ave. near Carlmont.

This box is a rotational piece,” said Vicky Galea, an administrative assistant at the San Carlos parks and recreation department. “It will potentially be repainted annually.”

Artists are chosen through an application process where they submit their design ideas to the parks and recreation board.

Emma Leeper, a former San Carlos resident and current freshman at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, was chosen to paint the utility box on the corner of Laurel St. and San Carlos Ave.

“Since they accepted [my] design it allowed me to express a lot of artistic freedom,” Leeper said. “When I ran into some issues with my design, I asked the head of the project if I could change it to fit the style of the box. They were more than willing to comply.”

This local public art movement allows for aspiring artists to express themselves through a new medium.

“I’ve always been interested in street art and this seemed like a fitting opportunity. It helped me understand my position as an artist.””

— Emma Leeper

“Artists pretty much have full autonomy for their work but it is desirable if the artwork highlights San Carlos in some way,” Galea said.

The initiative provided Leeper with a different way to approach her passion for art.

“I’ve always been interested in street art and this seemed like a fitting opportunity. It was an opportunity for me to share my art and my love for art with the public,” Leeper said. “It was eye-opening for me to hear firsthand what people thought of my work. It helped me understand my position as an artist.”

City of San Carlos
Leeper’s work can be found on the corner of Laurel St. and San Carlos Ave.

Other aspiring artists can participate in painting the utility box near Carlmont. The box itself is covered with advertisements and information on how to get involved.

Despite this, the interest or knowledge regarding the project seems limited.

“So far, [we] only have one application,” Galea said. “But there are almost 4 weeks left to submit.”

Carlmont art student sophomore Elsa Faber was unaware of the project.

“I would have loved to know about this project. Street art is a medium we don’t really get to explore in class,” Faber said.

San Carlos’s street art endeavor will continue to serve as a creative outlet for the city.

“I could definitely see myself participating in the future,” Faber said. “It would be really cool to have my art on public display.”

Applications to paint the box are open for another four weeks. Visit this webpage to apply and submit a design.

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