Utility box art brings color to Belmont


Sjoerd Huitema

This utility box, located near Ralston Avenue, was painted by Chelsea Stewart, a volunteer artist. She spent many weeks working on it and was eventually reimbursed $250 for the supplies she used.

Sjoerd Huitema, Staff writer

In order to make the utility boxes in Belmont more vibrant, the Belmont City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission have approved an art program.

This program allows artists to paint the boxes and brighten up the city.

Many of these boxes were plain and gray before the start of the program. So, local artists were asked to share their talents and paint the boxes. Applications for this program were due on July 9, and since then, many artists have volunteered to help enhance the vibrancy of the city.

“There was substantial interest in the program, and our Parks and Recreation Commission picked some great designs [for the boxes],” said Charles Stone, a Belmont City Council member.

The boxes are located along Ralston Avenue, all of which range in size. According to Stone, the artists get reimbursed for the materials they use despite the fact that participating in the program is voluntary.

One of these decorated boxes is located in between a Safeway and Chevron gas station near Ralston Avenue. The art was created by Chelsea Stewart, and the city has had a positive response to it.

Keith Thomson, a local resident who noticed Stewart’s art, said, “I have noticed [the boxes] before. I think that [painting them] is a good idea in general.”

Carlmont students have also recognized the effect of the art on local residents.

Alejandro Lemus, a sophomore, said, “I think that [the boxes] are impacting the [locals] in a positive way.”

The boxes, however, may change due to graffiti or time. However, there are precautions to fix this issue.

“The plan is to replace [the boxes] in five years or as required by aging,” Stone said.

Additionally, an anti-graffiti clear coat that lasts up to ten years was applied to the utility boxes.

Through programs such as this, the City Council and Parks and Recreation Commission strive to spread art throughout the city.

Stone said, “Like the artwork on the Barrett Community Center fence, this [program] is part of an ongoing effort to beautify Belmont and keep us as a community of the arts.”