by Veronica Chew
A collaboration between the Earth Island Institute's Streets Alive! program and City of Berkeley's Civic Arts Commission for public art in downtown Berkeley has resulted in the "60 Boxes Project" - a promoter of color, imagination and art. The project targets 60 utility boxes scattered throughout the city, all currently painted grey and owned either by the city or by PG&E. Sponsors choose local artists, who then create designs based on the theme "Sustainability" - including but not limited to ecological, social, cultural, and financial conceptions. These designs will either be painted directly onto the boxes or transferred on them via large, printed polymer stickers.
Beyond city aesthetics, the 60 Boxes Project hopes to achieve additional goals. Artists of all ages, individual, businesses and organizations work together to foster a sense of community and contribute to a positive community-supported program. The project empowers artists to engage in opportunities for public art and achieve success through public recognition and appreciation, and through private sponsorship. Patrons invest in a part of their city and have the opportunity to sponsor local art. Most importantly, this project condones the usage of art as a medium for a message - in this case, "Sustainability," not only complements the ideals and public experience of city revitalization, but also raises awareness and action in the entire community about the importance of living a sustainable lifestyle.
With the transformation of the bleak, utilitarian boxes into cornerstones of vibrancy and significance, the 60 Boxes Project will help bring to light the diverse community and interests that compose the city of Berkeley.