Artists beautify Claremont with utility box murals

A Claremont resident scoots past Pomona-based artist Cheyne Ellett’s cartoon instruments mural called “Musical Celebration” on an electrical box at the corner of Indian Hill Avenue and Tenth Street. Claremont’s Public Art Committee and City Council invited 19 artists to paint electrical boxes throughout the city for an ongoing beautification project that started in 2022. / photo by Sarah Van Buskirk
A Claremont resident scoots past Pomona-based artist Cheyne Ellett’s cartoon instruments mural called “Musical Celebration” on an electrical box at the corner of Indian Hill Avenue and Tenth Street. Claremont’s Public Art Committee and City Council invited 19 artists to paint electrical boxes throughout the city for an ongoing beautification project that started in 2022. / photo by Sarah Van Buskirk

Margaret Contreras
Staff Writer

The city of Claremont is showcasing art in the streets, as a group of artists were invited to paint the utility power boxes at major intersections around town. 

Nineteen artists in all painted the boxes colorfully as they saw fit, with each reflecting the painter’s unique style and inspirations.

The project began in 2022 with a city initiative by the city’s public art committee. 

“They are very supportive of public art,” said city spokeswoman Bevin Handel. “A second call for artists was put out in 2023, (and) the second round of boxes was completed this past fall.”

Artists from throughout Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire were paid $750 to paint a box.
Handel said more than half of the artists featured are from Claremont or Pomona. 

The idea for the project came from seeing other cities whose electrical boxes had been painted similarly.

The designs themselves have a range of inspiration, with some from the city itself and others more abstract.

One of the artists Mer Young, founder and creative director of Mer Young Art and Design, found inspiration through the city for the box located on Auto Center Drive and Indian Hill Boulevard. Young painted the box with different shades of purple – sort of a zoomed-in view of purple flowers and their leaves with a single yellow flower at the center.

“The design was inspired by the landscapes that reflect the vibrancy of Southern California’s purple hues of spring and summer seasons,” Young said.  

Young’s box is titled “Little Painted Flowers.”

The utility box at the corner of 10th Street and Indian Hill Boulevard, northwest corner of Memorial Park, was painted by Cheyne Ellett, a Pomona artist. The artist also drew inspiration from the Claremont musical scene. The name of the piece is “Musical Celebration.” The painting on the box has a fun futuristic look to it with a robot in the center singing into the microphone. The background is bright red with black music; each side had an instrument being played.

“It’s a nod and love letter to the music scene in Claremont,” Ellett said, noting the music scene in the city includes the Folk Music Center on Yale Avenue and the summer concert series in Memorial Park.

Palms Spring artist Flavia Monteiro used a grid design for the box located on the northeast corner of Indian Hill and Foothill boulevard. The name of the artwork is “Red on Box.” At first glance this box gives the illusion of glass squares, with colorful blocks and shading creating a 3-D effect. 

“The depth generated by different colors and irregular perspectives breaks the concept of the grid as a simple organizing structure with finite boundaries and rigid divisions,” Monteiro said. “The bright, playful colors and the illusion of three dimensions within each square create a strong visual impact in a public space. I wanted to transform with color the dull drab utility boxes we see everyday into pieces of art we can appreciate.”

The decorated boxes, designed to stay in place for five years, were sprayed with a coating to protect them from graffiti.  

Other painted utility boxes can be found at Foothill Boulevard and Mills Avenue; College and Kirkwood avenues; and along Indian Hill Boulevard at Arrow Highway, First Street, Bonita Avenue and Claremont High School. 

“I think it’s a great idea when the city invites artists to create artistic interventions in urban spaces,” Monteiro said. 

Margaret Contreras can be reached at margaret.contreras@laverne.edu 

Magaret Contreras is a sophomore communications major with a concentration in public relations. She is a staff writer for the Campus Times.

Sarah Van Buskirk is a senior journalism major with a concentration in print and online journalism. She is the Spring 2024 editorial director for the Campus Times and has recently served as editor-in-chief, sports editor and staff writer. She is also currently a staff photographer for the Campus Times and La Verne Magazine, and a staff writer for La Verne Magazine.

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