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Artists beautifying utility boxes in Burbank aim to inspire passersby

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The Burbank Cultural Arts Commission selected 14 additional utility boxes to be painted in the city this year. Ricardo Cerezo, who works in computer and information technology, painted a box outside the Novo Cafe at 3900 W. Riverside Drive.
(Roger Wilson/Burbank Leader)

The Burbank Cultural Arts Commission’s utility-box beautification program expanded this year to include 14 more artists who painted boxes in the city’s Media Center, and they finished their projects last week.

The boxes are a part of the commission’s third phase of the program.

With the latest boxes completed, there are now 26 utility boxes, ranging from traffic boxes to electrical boxes, painted across Burbank.

This program’s theme this year is “World of Entertainment,” and Glendale artist Ricardo Cerezo said he thinks his art piece, which he titled “Cattle Drive,” hits the mark.

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Growing up in Panama, Cerezo said he remembers watching many of the classic cartoons and television westerns that were produced in Burbank, and he used them as his inspiration for the utility box he painted, which is located on the corner of Riverside Drive and Kenwood Street in front of Novo Cafe.

The box depicts a cowboy surrounded by cattle and stagehands on the set of a television western in the style of some of his favorite cartoon shows.

“I tried to reflect images and colors in the style developed by the animation studios here in Burbank,” Cerezo said.

“I’m about 50 years old, so I grew up with shows from Warner Bros., Hanna-Barbera and [United Productions of America],” he added.

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Cerezo, who is an information technology engineer, has already painted 30 utility boxes across Los Angeles County, including in Sunland, Tujunga, South Pasadena, Eagle Rock and the City of Commerce.

For Cerezo, having the opportunity to paint the boxes allows him to learn more about the city or neighborhood he is helping to beautify, as well as teach those who see his work a little more about that location.

“Each box gives me the inspiration and the opportunity to tell a story about that community or myself,” Cerezo said.

Just down the street from where Cerezo was painting, another artist, Katie Shipley, beautified a utility box across the street from one of the gates at Warner Bros. Studios at Kenwood and Olive Avenue.

Shipley, who is based in North Hollywood, designed her box to look like a stage production in which Burbank was the backdrop.

There are also stars, reminiscent of those on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, that have the phrase “Your Name Here.”

“I hope it feeds a couple of daydreams,” Shipley said. “I don’t expect this piece to be groundbreaking, but, for when I’m stuck in traffic, I like to be able to look around and find things to ponder on and be aspirational.”

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