Glendale officials are seeking proposals from artists who want to paint murals on 26 utility boxes to brighten up downtown Glendale.
Painting the utility boxes would be the first step in a $1.4 million plan to make Glendale more arts-friendly like other cities such as Santa Monica and Pasadena.
The city is on a mission to shake its reputation as boring, an effort that began with a new branding campaign approved a few years ago and a revived downtown plan that has ushered in numerous hip apartment projects.
“The fact that people are going to walk down Brand Boulevard and Maryland and be able to see a pop of color is going to be beyond words for all of us,” said Annette Vartanian, Glendale’s arts and culture supervisor, during an Arts & Culture Commission meeting this week.
The lower-level commission on Thursday chose the theme “Double Take” for the mural program, which tasks artists with coming up with a concept that plays off perception and double meaning.
Commissioner Arman Keyvanian encouraged artists to stretch their imaginations as they submit proposals.
“Let’s do strange. Let’s do out-there stuff. We have the opportunity,” he said, adding that he wants proposals that would be unexpected in a downtown that’s filled with typical commercial structures.
Teri Deaver, the commission’s president, agreed that artists in the program should embrace out-of-the-box ideas.
“I think if there are any criticisms of Glendale, it’s perhaps that we’re a little laced up,” she said.
The artists who are selected must incorporate volunteers into their proposal and would be required to work on certain program days to promote a community aspect.
Each artist would receive $750 to paint a utility box. The commission has a budget of $30,000 for the utility box project out of its $1.4 million saved up for the overall program, but it plans to use $20,000 for utility boxes in downtown.
The remaining money could be spent on painting more utility boxes at a later date in other neighborhoods, such as Montrose or Kenneth Village, Vartanian said.
“We’re asking for artists to give us their very best and something that’s never been seen before,” Vartanian said.
Artists can begin submitting proposals in March and officials expect to have the utility boxes painted by early summer.
Artists can submit proposals for a single utility box or multiple boxes. The program is open to both local and regional artists, but Glendale artists are preferred.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call (818) 548-2030.
Editor's Note: A previous version of this story did not include that proposals can be submitted in March.