By Mary O’KEEFE
If art is to nourish the roots of our culture, society must set the artist free to follow his vision wherever it takes him.
~ John F. Kennedy
The vision of five artists can now be seen along Foothill Boulevard from Pennsylvania to Lowell avenues after a weekend of painting. The artists were part of the Beyond the Box Mural project sponsored by the City of Glendale, Arts and Culture Commission.
“There were 23 artists [participating],” said Chuck Wike, Community Relations manager, City of Glendale, Arts and Culture Commission.
Of the 110 artists who submitted ideas, 23 were chosen. The artists painted their designs on 23 utility boxes throughout Glendale, with five in the far north Crescenta Valley area.
Kayla Kaiser’s design is on the utility box at Lauderdale Avenue and Foothill Boulevard. Her vision was of promoting active transportation including walking, biking and taking the Metrolink. Both she and her husband, Mike, are part of Walk Bike Glendale, an organization dedicated to making the city a place where “everyone feels safe to walk and bike.”
“This is a perfect place [for her design], right by a bike lane,” Kaiser said.
Kaiser decided to enter her design after talking to friends on the Metrolink.
“We wanted to promote active transportation,” Mike added.
The Kaisers are working with others to get a Metrolink train that can accommodate bicycles.
“We would like to see a dedicated bike [car],” he said.
Over at Lowell Avenue and Foothill Boulevard the theme was “Bloom Where You Are Planted.”
“We like being creative,” said artist Kari Mitchell.
Mitchell was painting a large yellow daisy with the help of her family, husband Andrew and sons Nick, an eighth grader, and Bean, an 11th grader.
The Mitchells are a local family – Bean is in the drama department at Crescenta Valley High School.
The day was long and hot but the family was happy to help create something that they can drive by and see for years to come.
“We wanted to help,” Bean said.
On Saturday it was all about drawing the image on the utility box and then paint, but Friday was a little intense.
“[I] sanded [the box], getting all the rust off, then wiped it down and primed it,” Mitchell said.
On Sunday the crew came back to varnish the artwork, protecting it from the weather.
Mitchell said she wanted to make this little corner of the Earth happy, so she chose bright colors and a positive philosophy of growing and supporting the community where you live.
A positive life philosophy was also the theme of Tania Cenzano’s creation on Foothill Boulevard and Boston Avenue.
“The Best Way to Predict the Future is to Create It” ~ Abraham Lincoln.
This quote is one of Cenzano’s favorite. She and friend Jacqui Brady worked this past weekend to bring the quote to life with painted flowers and a watering can.
“I wanted to have this [utility box] on a street where it can be viewed. I wanted to contribute to the community,” Cenzano said.
At Dunsmore Avenue and Foothill Boulevard, Dominick Cabalo designed colorful, fun characters. From spacemen to tiny tots, the utility box was a fun artist exercise in community.
“It is a melting pot [with examples] of different facets of the community to show we can all get along and coexist,” Cabalo said of his design.
It was sweet on New York Avenue where it was all about candy.
“Sugar Rush,” is the name artist Renita Terabramians gave her artwork.
She entered the Beyond the Box contest because it seemed like it would be fun.
“I was surprised [my design] was chosen,” she said.
She and her friend Selia Moshkanbarians are both high school students. The pair, like all the artists, planned to check on their creations from time to time.
The Beyond the Box project began with an idea by the Glendale Arts and Culture Commission. The organization was charged with heightening the arts in the city of Glendale and one of their ideas was to create murals on utility boxes, Wike said.
There were no themes that were requested by the commission to the artists. A committee composed of two Arts and Culture Commission members, a city staff member from the Economic Development Dept. and the president of Adams Hill Neighborhood Association reviewed the designs.
“The committee looked at originality,” Wike said. “For Foothill [utility boxes] we looked for colorful boxes, really bright and light.”
Wike added the artists received support throughout the weekend from the community.
“All five [of the artists’ groups] said that [local residents] were very nice,” he added.
There are more utility boxes throughout Glendale that will be available canvasses in the future. Those that are completed in the Crescenta Valley include the recent boxes along Foothill Boulevard and Montrose and Honolulu avenues.