California Dolphin: statewide California news

Menifee contest offers chance to turn green utility boxes into works of art

Thinking outside the box is nothing new for aspiring and veteran artists with a creative streak.
But painting outside the box — utility boxes in Menifee to be exact — proved to be a challenging opportunity.
Arts Council Menifee members look over submissions to the Utility Box Enhancement Program on Sept. 29. From left are John Tribelhorn, Linda Morrison and Ron Ciamaga. (Photo by Diane A. Rhodes, contributing photographer)
Kathleen Crain submitted a painting that was patriotic and historical with hopes it will be one of 15 pieces selected for the first phase of Menifee’s Utility Box Enhancement Program – a public art project designed to reflect community pride. (Photo by Diane A. Rhodes, contributing photographer)
Sound The gallery will resume in seconds Edie Schmoll submitted “Glow III” to Menifee’s Utility Box Enhancement Program, hoping to recreate her work as public art. (Photo by Diane A. Rhodes, contributing photographer)
Show Caption of Expand
The city staged a contest for anyone who lives, works or attends school in Menifee to create artwork that will be transferred to these outdoor, green, metal boxes that blanket the city.
The Utility Box Enhancement Program is being coordinated by the Visual Arts Division of Arts Council Menifee after the Menifee City Council decided it would be a fun way to bring the close-knit, but fast-growing, community together.
City Councilman Matthew Liesemeyer had the idea to draw interest and beautify parts of the city, Economic Development Director Gina Gonzalez said.
The program aimed to build community pride using public art as a platform for local artists, friends and families to develop a sense of ownership and a connection with the city.
“The way I characterized it to the city was that we are capitalizing on an asset already on the streets and making it look better since those green boxes fade over time,” Liesemeyer said. “This is a way to dress them up.”
Submissions were accepted Sept. 29, with 15 being juried into the contest’s first phase. Three categories attracted many artists in various medium: patriotic, nature and reflections of Menifee. Judges were interested in works that embraced one of the themes but also showed creativity, originality and overall design quality.
Each piece was photographed by Ron Ciamaga, who also submitted a photo he took at the city’s most recent Fourth of July celebration at Wheatfield Park.
“I wanted to promote Menifee and do something patriotic so this is the best of both,” Ciamaga said. “I’d like to see my work on public display even though I’ve won a few awards already.”
Gonzalez said the city, the Arts Council and Southern California Edison are initially focusing on the large green Edison utility boxes along Newport Road.
“These boxes will give the artist a larger canvas to work with and, overall, there is a value gain for the city with the program, in terms of cultural, social and economic value,” she said.
Another artist who entered the contest is Edie Schmoll, a 31-year resident of the Sun City neighborhood of Menifee. She has been an Arts Council member about five years and has been involved with the nonprofit art group and its many activities.
“I love a challenge and I always expect to win and usually do,” she said. “However, it’s not a big deal if someone beats me.”
Art box programs have become popular throughout the United States and especially in Southern California, Gonzalez said. Liesemeyer said he got the idea from years of driving Mira Mesa Boulevard in San Diego while visiting his brother and seeing boxes painted by local artists.
Related Articles

Riverside Arts Academy stages conference on music, education

Volunteer to help build a Habitat for Humanity playhouse

Morongo rodeo entertains crowds for sixth time

Workshop series for widows, widowers offered in Banning and San Bernardino

Komen Race for the Cure in Murrieta raises cash to battle cancer

Other Inland cities with similar programs include Chino Hills, Redlands, Riverside and Corona.
“It’s great to see art in public places and projects like this that beautify our city,” Mayor Bill Zimmerman said.
The 15 chosen submissions of the first phase of the program will be unveiled at the city’s Birthday Bash & Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 20, at Mt. San Jacinto College’s Menifee Valley Campus.
What:  Menifee’s Birthday Bash & Fall Festival
When: 2 p.m. to 9 p.m., Saturday, Oct. 20
Where: Mt. San Jacinto College’s Menifee Valley Campus, 28237 La Piedra Road, Menifee
Information: 951-723-3880

Top News

Ain't No God; don't even think about theism

UnFox News: not a propaganda arm of the Republican party