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SLO utility boxes serve as canvas for local artists

Greta Mart/KCBX
Beeman's art covers a utility box at the Irish Hills Plaza.

In February, San Luis Obispo put out a call for artists, looking for local talent to submit ideas for painting 26 utility boxes around the city. The city’s park and recreation department received over 200 submissions, and in the end, 19 artists were selected. This week, those artists started their painting projects.

Lindsey Stephenson of the city’s park and recreation department said a few of the artists will be painting two boxes, like the North County artist who was out Monday morning on Los Osos Valley Road. She is painting a utility box near the entrance to San Luis Obispo’s Irish Hills shopping center.

“My name is Amy Beeman, out of Templeton and North County,” Beenman said. “I do mixed media art and acrylics.”

Beeman said the city gave the selected artists a template, which an art jury vetted. Her boxed mural features California poppies, a landscape and barn...and a pretty happy looking cow.

“My family's been here for generations and they've been cattle ranchers,” Beeman said. “So I thought, ‘hey, you know, Froom Ranch, why not?’ So I submitted it specifically for this location, because of the ranching history here.”

Beeman got most of the utility box covered on Monday morning, until the hot weather interfered with her acrylic paints.

“They dry really quickly, which is great when you're in kind of a cool environment, but these hot days, with this wind,” Beeman said. “I started to dip my brush and it was drying almost instantly, so I was like, OK it's time to stop, I've got to come back tomorrow or the next day.”

The utility box painters will be working on their artworks through August 20.