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Utility Box Public Art Program

We are currently looking for a Print Media Lead Artist for the Utility Box Mentorship Program in partnership with Alberta Printmakers. View the Call to Artists. Submissions are due by Wednesday, March 16, 2016 at 10 a.m. MST.

Utility Box Gallery

Photo Gallery - Unclassified

  • Artist: Jason Scott Johnson and Nicola Yassel Johnson
  • Artist: Jason Scott Johnson and Nicola Yassel Johnson
  • Artist: Jason Scott Johnson and Nicola Yassel Johnson
  • Artist: Katie Green
  • Artist: Katie Green
  • Artist: Katie Green
  • Artist: Lyse Deselliers
  • Artist: Michelle Hoogveld
  • Artist: Michelle Hoogveld
  • Asrtist: Michelle Hoogveld
  • Artist: Michelle Hoogveld
  • Artist: Raghavendra Rao KV
  • Artist: Raghavendra Rao KV
  • Artist: Raghavendra Rao KV
  • Artist: Raghavendra Rao KV
  • Artist: Ricole Fedyna
  • Artist: Ricole Fedyna
  • Artist: Ricole Fedyna
  • Artist: Ricole Fedyna
  • Artist: Sarah Friesen
  • Artist: Sarah Friesen
  • Artist: Tina Moore
  • Artist: Tina Moore
  • Artist: Tina Moore
  • Artist: Sarah Friesen
  • Artist: Alexandra Haeseker
  • Artist: Alexandra Haeseker
  • Artist: Alexandra Haeseker
  • Artist: Alexandra Haeseker
  • Artist: Bram Timmer
  • Artist: Bram Timmer
  • Artist: Bram Timmer
  • Artist: Daniel J. Kirk
  • Artist: Daniel J. Kirk
  • Artist: Derek Michael Besant
  • Artist: Derek Michael Besant
  • Artist: Derek Michael Besant
  • Spring, Artist: Joel Monea
  • Summer, Artist: Joel Monea
  • Winter, Artist: Joel Monea
  • Artist: Lyse Deselliers
  • Artist: Michelle Wiebe
  • Artist: Negin Bagherneja
  • Artist: Aaron Navrady
  • Artist: Aaron Navrady
  • Artist: Anastasia Breeze
  • Artist: Cassandra Paul
  • Artist: Cassandra Paul
  • Artist: Cassandra Paul
  • Artist: Christian Frederiksen
  • Artist: Daniel Kirk
  • Artist: Daniel Kirk
  • Artist: Daniel Kirk
  • Artist: Daniel Kirk
  • Artist: David Brunning
  • Artist: David Brunning
  • Artist: David Brunning
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Elena Busan
  • Artist: Emma Bresola
  • Artist: Emma Bresola
  • Artist: Emma Bresola
  • Artist: Eveline Kolijn
  • Artist: Eveline Kolijn
  • Artist: Freek van den Beukel
  • Artist: Freek van den Beukel
  • Artist: Georgina Stone
  • Artist: Golriz Rezvani
  • Artist: Hugo Dubon
  • Artist: Hugo Dubon
  • Artist: Janice Blaine
  • Artist: Joan Shearer
  • Artist: Joan Shearer
  • Artist: Jolie Bird
  • Artist: Karen Klassen
  • Artist: Karen Klassen
  • Artist: Karen Klassen
  • Artist: Karylin Smith
  • Artist: Kathy Lycka
  • Artist: Kathy Lycka
  • Artist: Kathy Lycka
  • Artist: Katy Green
  • Artist: Katy Green
  • Artist: Kelly Matsalla
  • Artist: Kyle Metcalf
  • Artist: Kyle Metcalf
  • Artist: Lynn Day
  • Artist: Lynnie Wonfor
  • Artist: Lyse Deselliers
  • Artist: Lyse Deselliers
  • Artist: Martin Warszawski
  • Artist: Mary Leigh Doyle
  • Artist: Mary Leigh Doyle
  • Artist: Mary Leigh Doyle
  • Artist: Mary Leigh Doyle
  • Artist: Mary Leigh Doyle
  • Artist: Matthew Butel
  • Artist: Maya Gohill
  • Artist: Nathaniel Miljour
  • Artist: Nathaniel Miljour
  • Artist: Sam Hester
  • Artist: Sam Hester
  • Artist: Scott Clark
  • Artist: Scott Clark
  • Artist: Scott Clark
  • Artist: Scott Clark
  • Artist: Scott Clark
  • Artist: Sergio Legoretta
  • Artist: Sonia Geller
  • Artist: Sonia Geller
  • Artist: Sylvia Prochownik
  • Artist: Tammy Fischer
  • Artist: Treffrey Deerfoot
  • Artist: Treffrey Deerfoot
  • Artist: Vince VanDurme
  • Artist: Vince VanDurme
  • Artist: Wil Yee
  • Artist: Wil Yee
  • Artist: Wil Yee
  • Artist: Wil Yee
  • Artist: Wil Yee

The Utility Box Program started in 2010 as a pilot project initiated by The City of Calgary Roads. Initially conceived as a highly successful graffiti abatement measure, widespread popularity enabled the program to grow and become permanent in 2011. The City is now expanding the opportunity to include community partners and engage more artists and citizens. Since 2010, over 140 utility box public artworks have been created by local artists throughout Calgary.

The Utility Box Program is designed to use the funding for regular lifecycle maintenance of City assets in a creative way. Working with student artists, professional artists and community groups, the program allows for these street-level artworks to add vibrancy to our cityscape, while creating a sense of place and identity for communities. These public artworks are not intended to be permanent but a temporary canvas through which artists and community members can express themselves and their identity.

A project team made up representatives from five different City of Calgary departments works together to set the goals and priority locations for the program annually. Additionally, when specific community members would like to have a box that is not part of the priority list painted, they can fill out an application form to have the box painted. Painting a box that is not currently on the priority list requires a fee for service, and the requestor is able to select the artist from the Utility Box Program roster.

All artists who create an artwork for a publically owned asset must be hired through standard City hiring procedures and are paid in accordance with the scope of the assigned project. Artists are selected by a seven-person jury and all designs must be pre-approved by the project team prior to installation. In order to develop designs, artists work with The City project team and the community stakeholders to:

  • Understand the community and its identifying features, values and character; 
  • Involve the community, in some way, in the development of the artwork; and
  • Interpret these elements into a public artwork for the utility box assigned.

Additionally, when designing the artwork, artists are encouraged to think of the context of the site and surrounding area.

  • Designs must not contain any representations of traffic lights, signs or signals.
  • Designs cannot contain advertisement or promotion for any business, product or viewpoint.
  • Designs must be created in a manner that will deter graffiti vandalism (ie: little negative space).
  • Designs may not include any breach of intellectual property, trademarks, brands, images of illegal activity or involve the attachment of any object(s) to the box.
  • Consideration should be given to the fact that the finished artwork will be in the public domain and therefore may be vandalized.
  • Artists should understand that the finished works will be on functioning equipment that will need repair or replacing at some point in time. Artists must accept the risk that their artwork may be damaged or removed at any time after completion.
  • Artwork is temporary and will not necessarily remain on the utility box for the lifespan of the box.

Utility Box Mentorship Program – Call for Artist Mentees

The City of Calgary, in collaboration with Alberta Printmakers, have developed an artist mentorship program in order to develop new possibilities for the Utility Box Program. This will allow local artists to expand their skills, under the guidance of and established artist, in the hopes of creating their own public art projects in the future.

Ten selected mentees will participate in a six-week mentorship opportunity with lead artist Eveline Kolijn to participate in a Public Art Project on the development and execution of artwork on twelve utility boxes on the west side of the Fifth and Sixth Avenue SW corridors. Although the medium applied will be print-related, the mentees require minimal experience working with print.

Each mentee will receive $500 and an annual membership with Alberta Printmakers.

Deadline to apply: 4pm May 24th 2016

For further information on the application requirements visit the Alberta Printmakers Facebook event.

Eveline Kolijn is a Calgary artist whose interest in the biological sciences and concern for the environment is expressed through printmaking and sculptural installations made from found synthetic materials. She explores forms and patterns in nature and the relationship between our society and the natural environment. Eveline strongly believes that the arts enrich society, and wants to share her experience and passion in learning environments and community involvement.

Public art budget - $17,500

Year approved – 2016

Expected completion - 2016

Information for Artists

In 2015 artists for the Utility Box Program were chosen via a pre-selected roster. Following the success of the roster, we have created an umbrella initiative called Painted City, that covers any program or individual request where an artist applies two-dimensional artworks to the surfaces of City-owned assets. These assets include utility boxes, banners, murals, decals, mosaics, photography and other digital artworks. Artist for the Utility Box program (with the exception of the Utility Box Mentorship) will be chosen through the Painted City roster.

View the 2015 Utility Box artist roster.

Frequently Asked Questions

​The City of Calgary’s Utility Box Program is an extremely popular community based art program in partnership between Roads, Public Art and local communities. Funded by Roads, the program allows local artists to create original artworks on designated traffic signal boxes. There are a limited number of boxes that can be done each year due to the budget and boxes are selected based on lifecycle priority basis.

Can I paint a box myself?

All boxes are painted by professional artists who apply to a “call for artists” which is released each spring. The selected artists are chosen by a standard selection panel composed of three artists, three community representatives and one representative from the Roads business unit. A project team composed of different City of Calgary business unit representatives then approve all the designs.

Can any box be painted?

No.  This program applies only to traffic signal boxes which are the property of The City of Calgary Roads department. There are many other types of utility boxes in Calgary, but some cannot be painted due to safety regulations.

What location are consider priorities for painting?

Locations where the boxes are old, rusted or in disrepair. Main corridors and communities that align with other major departmental initiatives.

How do I get a box painted in my community?

Communities who have the funds to pay the artist and painting fees can pay to have their own traffic signal boxes painted. To do so, communities must follow The City of Calgary process guidelines, and receive all necessary approvals from the Utility Box Program committee. Please complete this application form to apply to have a box painted in your community.

If you would like more information, please contact publicart@calgary.ca.

How much does it cost to paint a box?

Painting a traffic signal box ranges from $1000 to $1800 per box, depending on the size of the box and the expectations of the artist. This covers the preparation of the box, the artist fees, the material costs, any community development requirements and future care and maintenance of the artwork.

What about the vinyl wraps?

Vinyl wrapping a box is an additional $1000/ box.

Why does it cost money to get a box painted?

The program has an annual budget that prioritizes key locations based on maintenance and repair needs.  If the box requested is not within that priority area, then Roads has committed to preparing and providing supplies for the box, but requires the community to pay for the additional fees required.

How long does the artwork last?

An exterior mural of this sort lasts two to five years.

I’m an artist who has painted a box in the past, how do I get hired again?

All artists must reapply annually to be considered for the program.

I am a student and would like to submit a design, how do I do this?

All designs must be created by professional artists. Student groups are welcome to work with a professional artist guiding their design process.

How can I find out more information?

We’re happy to answer any other questions you might have regarding the Utility Box Program. Please contact Public Art at publicart@calgary.ca.