Uptown Utility Artbox Project
The Utility Artbox murals scattered throughout Hillcrest, North Park, and the Uptown District really act as "anti-graffiti" landmarks. Most taggers won't deface the murals, probably because they recognize the similarity in the two art forms and the man-hours required to create them. The project, conceived by local graphic designer and City College alum Rick Newlin, was inspired by the now famous BenchART project in Zurich, Switzerland. There, a team of artists took the city's dirty, dilapidated street benches and reconstructed them into beautiful works of art. Here in San Diego, Newlin, along with friends Jose Serrano, Stephen Morris, Raphael Lopez, and a host of prominent local artists, saw blank canvases in the normally green and gray sidewalk eyesores that house the switches, fuses, and cables for streetlights, stoplights, and cable connections. One that gets a lot of attention is "Cow-mouflage," on Sixth Avenue between University and Robinson. Adding to the project's good feeling, the Uptown Partnership hired the Alpha Project (which helps the city's homeless by giving them odd jobs in exchange for food and spending money) to clean and prep the boxes for the artists.