H-SAN LUIS OBISPO

Oct 9, 2012 8:30 PM by Cameron Polom, KSBY News

Art in unexpected places

Artists are adding a touch of color to downtown San Luis Obispo.
And today the second wave hit the streets.
Art work is transforming the city's utility boxes into masterpieces.
Sixteen utility boxes were painted in 2010 to spruce up the look of downtown SLO.
Due to its success, another round of boxes are beginning this week.
As it turns out the program has some added benefits.

You can find them all around the city.

Splashed with color, many representing the essence the San Luis Obispo County.

"We call it art in unexpected places," say program coordinator Shannon Bates.

She also says it's not only about putting public art on display.

"We've seen less graffiti on those utility boxes that tend to be graffiti attracters," says Bates.

In fact, according to city managers, graffiti on the boxes has decreased by seventy five percent.

"Well its funny, a lot of people think these box's weren't here before, they've always been here, they just kind of recede into the street-scape I guess," says box artist Amy McKay.

But thanks to local artists like McKay, who's painting her second round of box's, people are now taking notice.

"Sometimes they honk and holler out the windows thank you for doing that," says McKay.

"It's good to see the public space being used for art that's not trying to sell something," says a resident passing by.

"I think they look great it makes the street look nice," says another resident.

"I'm just happy to do public art," says box artist Lena Rushing.

Rushing is part of the second wave of artists hitting the area.

"I've already had a lot of people just stop and want to chat about it, or lots of people walking by will stop and say I live right up the street, I'm so glad we get a box," says Rushing.

The program is funded in two ways.

First, through San Luis Obispo's capital improvement program which dedicates a half a percent to public art anytime a project is done.

The other funding comes from private development permits which also sends a percentage to the public art fund.

The painting of this round of sixteen boxes began Saturday and continues through the month.

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