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Beautification, arts events expand ‘Beyond the Box’

Beyond the Box art program
A woman walks past a utility box mural painted with what looks like a colorful elephant at California and Maryland in Glendale on Wednesday, May 21, 2014. The program was sponsored by the Arts & Culture Commission and artists painted 26 utility box murals around Brand Blvd. in Glendale on Saturday, May 17, 2014. The program is being expanded to Montrose.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

From a peacock to a British-styled telephone booth, utility boxes across Montrose will get an artistic makeover next week.

The “Beyond the Box” program, sponsored by Glendale’s Arts and Culture Commission, has called on artists across Glendale, Montrose and Los Angeles to submit proposed designs. The event will see roughly a dozen utility boxes transform into unique art pieces with a different theme chosen by each artist.

Out of 83 submissions, 11 artists were chosen: Michael Alvarez, Morgan Beck, Zack Brown, Miles Crosman, Arotin Hartounian, Jose Lozano, Dan Monteavaro, Victoria Rees, Arpine Shakhbandaryan, John Sumner and Katherine Warner.

“Beyond the Box” was successful in Glendale earlier this year, so now it’s expanding to Montrose.

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Each artist will receive a $750 stipend for materials, part of a larger $1.4-million plan to establish Glendale as an arts destination, similar to cities such as Pasadena and Santa Monica.

Painting day will kick off on Oct. 25.

The commission met Thursday and reviewed artists’ sketches. Cindy Cleary, director of the city’s library, arts and culture department, said numerous residents have requested the program for their neighborhoods.

“It truly is a successful program,” Cleary said.

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And that success is also matched by the variety of artists chosen for the second phase in Montrose. Seventeen-year-old Beck, a Crescenta Valley High School student, chose the iconic English telephone booth for her mural’s background.

Two people — one distracted by a phone and the other by a book — stand in front of the booth while their dogs, as Beck puts it, “mingle.”

She titled the piece “What We Can Miss,” noting the inspiration came from a visit to England.

“When people are distracted by everyday life, they can miss on making a connection with another human being,” Beck said. “But the dogs, who aren’t distracted, can experience the world in a different way.”

The second phase of “Beyond the Box” coincides with Big Draw L.A., a monthlong celebration of the arts through more than 60 drawing activities throughout the region for children and adults.

Hartounian, 23, of Glendale, is another artist chosen for the Montrose project, and he’s participated in Big Draw L.A. the past four years. The Pasadena City College student found a way to celebrate art through children, titling his piece “The Magic of Drawing.”

His piece shows four gleeful children huddled around a poster with drawings. A fifth child clutches his own design, bringing a smile to a woman in a dark dress.

“That’s something that has always fascinated me — the power of art and drawing as visual communication,” Hartounian said. “And how children communicate by drawing.”

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As for the murals, the utility boxes chosen for the program’s second phase are along Honolulu, Montrose and Pennsylvania avenues. The program’s first phase involved 26 boxes scattered throughout downtown Glendale.

A rendering by Glendale resident and artist Shakhbandaryan was also chosen for the project, and she said she likes supporting public art. Shakhbandaryan described her mural as a mix of her painting style and her Armenian roots.

Her piece, dubbed “Draw Through Time,” features the styling of an illuminated manuscript with an apricot tree, a peacock and a tangled grapevine.

“The real message behind this is you can paint in many different shapes and forms,” she said. “And that the residents can connect and learn through these forms.”


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