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Downtown Encinitas gets art on electrical boxes

ENCINITAS — During several weekends, three local artists painted the SDG&E electrical boxes, as part of Phase One for Encinitas 101 MainStreet’s Utility of Art Project.

This beautification project enlisted the city of Encinitas Commission for the Arts to select proposals submitted from several artists to paint five boxes.

The goal of the Utility of Art Project is to enhance the ambiance of Downtown Encinitas with a public art gallery that will visually represent the culture of Encinitas. Once the collection is complete, residents and visitors will be able to view local art in unexpected places.

Four of the boxes are located on the north side of D Street by the NCTD station. Artist Monika Whisenhunt painted her “Happy Waves — Aquarium” on one box. This utility box was transformed into a surrealistic aquarium filled with happy, organic-shaped waves and fish. Artist Bryan Helfand painted his “Transformation” on three boxes. This triptych piece is comprised of calm dripping blues, flowing giant kelp and otherworldly fish. Artist Bre Custodio painted her “Time to Relax” on the box in front of 25 East E St. This work was inspired by the San Diego sky, from the bright blue of a summer day to the burnt oranges of a September sunset.

Phase One of this beautification project has already proven to be beneficial.

“The feedback has been phenomenal from the community. We have received several inquiries from merchants and residents requesting the SDG&E electrical boxes near their storefront or home be painted. I am eager to execute Phase Two in 2014 and provide more artists with the opportunity to have their original work on display for the community,” said Olivia Paccione, Encinitas 101 Program Assistant.

The Utility of Art Project was made possible with the support of SDG&E (Sempra Utilities) and Crown Ace Hardware. The project was funded in part by the City of Encinitas and Mizel Family Foundation Community Grant Program.