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The city of Santa Maria is looking for artistic help to beautify some of its intersections.

The Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department is seeking artists to help turn selected traffic signal utility boxes into works of art.

The deadline to apply to be selected has been extended to 5 p.m. Dec. 16.

“The art box program has been adopted by many other cities on the Central Coast, as well as throughout California and the U.S.,” said Dennis Smitherman, Recreation and Parks management analyst. “Our neighbor to the north, San Luis Obispo, has been the most successful in our area and is on the third phase of the project.”

Santa Maria’s artful utility box project also will be rolled out in segments.

“We will have five boxes this first phase,” Smitherman said.

The boxes in the first phase are clustered around Santa Maria's downtown near the area of Broadway between Cook and Main streets; Main Street between Broadway and Miller Street; and on Cook Street across from City Hall.

To be eligible, artists must live in either Santa Barbara or San Luis Obispo counties.

The selected artists will earn a $500 stipend and have access to up to $200 in reimbursements for material costs.

To apply, artists can download the official “Call for Artist” information packet as well as an application and “Box Art” design template at

The works of art will adorn the utility boxes for at least five years, but probably longer, Smitherman said.

To ensure the art lasts, artists will have to use specific acrylic latex paint.

“Then each box will be coated with anti-graffiti and UV protectant,” Smitherman said.

Art Box program leaders don’t want to dictate what artists choose to create, but they would like the designs to seem relevant to the region.

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“While we do not want to hinder any artist from providing a masterpiece, we do ask that the artist or team of artists to consider the area in which we live, the history, culture and, possibly, the future of Santa Maria when creating their design,” Smitherman said.

Once submitted, the applications will be reviewed by city staff members and a selection committee, which will consist of Santa Barbara County Art commissioners, Santa Maria Arts Council members, local artists, interested community members and Recreation and Parks commissioners.

The project is funded through public and private donations. Sponsors include PLAY Inc., Diane and Kieran Adam, BMLA Landscape Architect, Tri W Enterprises Inc. and the Santa Maria Arts Council.

Smitherman said the application process is simple.

“At the time of application, we only need a few things: the one-page application and their designs on the provided template; up to three can be submitted by an individual/team. If an artist does not have a professional resume, it is not required. Please include pictures of previously completed artwork.”

Logan B. Anderson covers city government in Santa Maria for Lee Central Coast Newspapers. Follow him on Twitter: @LoganBAnderson.


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