Manhattan Beach is looking for artists to beautify utility boxes. This is how you can apply

The nondescript utility boxes lining the streets of Manhattan Beach are about to get a new look — designed by local creatives.

South Bay artists have until 5 p.m. Friday, Oct. 12, to submit proposals for turning utility boxes into works of art. The submissions are part of Manhattan Beach’s Utility Box Beautification Project, an increasingly common way for cities to use public art as a way to make their streets more attractive. In all, Manhattan Beach hopes to transform 41 boxes into distinctive pieces of art, said Cultural Arts Manager Martin Betz.

But the boxes will be done in phases, with next week’s deadline for the first 12 only; city officials will choose the winners.

“It’s a great way to introduce the idea of having artwork in the community,” said Betz, who cited other Los Angeles area murals as inspiration for the project. “We are injecting that visual experience into neighborhoods.”

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The Cultural Arts Commission will decide on 10 to 15 finalists, submit those proposals to the City Council for approval in November and anticipate the first installations to take place in the first months of 2019.

“The city is looking for artists who can translate the idea of Manhattan Beach, the visual identity of the city, both historical and contemporary,” Betz said of the criteria.

Artists will receive a $500 stipend, half at the start and half upon completion of the project, according to city documents.

The commission will work with the selected artists to translate images to a digital format, which will then be printed onto vinyl, or a similar material, and wrapped around each box, Betz said.

He noted the original contest rules were too strict regarding the required formatting of submissions and that the commission won’t allow such stipulations to stand in the way of good artwork.

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