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Painted utility boxes give Mid-City small makeover

Artists are painting utility boxes around the city (photo courtesy of Community Visions Unlimited).

Local artists are giving Mid-City a small makeover by painting utility boxes along the neighborhood’s streets.

The project, called The New Orleans Street Gallery, was started by Community Visions Unlimited, a non-profit that aims to rebuild neighborhoods through beautification. Jeannie Tidy, vice president and founder of the company, announced this week that the project has finally reached Broad Street.

Tidy said that local artists have already painted several utility boxes along Jeff Davis Parkway.

“We have done over 26 boxes in the Mid-City area now,” Tidy said, adding that the company had done more in Mid-City than any other neighborhood.

According to Tidy, the project operates completely from donation. She said that the project pays artists $250 for each box that is painted.

Local artists submit the piece they want to paint on the box and then the submission is sent to a committee. Once the committee approves the artwork, it’s later presented to the area’s neighborhood association.

According to Tidy, volunteers help prepare the boxes for the artists.

“We also go out and wash the boxes down, take all the stickers off, which is not a small task, and put two coats of special primer on it before the artist ever touches it,” Tidy said, adding that the company supplies all materials to the artists. “So it’s a labor of love.”

She says the project has helped keep Mid-City clean.

“The trash has improved like 150 percent over what it was when we started the project. It really does impact litter,” Tidy said. “People don’t want to throw trash down where there’s something really beautiful there.”

The project also helps prevent graffiti on the boxes that have been already been painted.

According to Tidy, the City of New Orleans hasn’t officially given her permission for the project. She was told to get permission from neighborhood associations instead.

“When I went to [the city] to ask them to allow us to do this project, they said, ‘Well there is no way we will ever give you permission in writing. However, if you get permission from the neighborhood association, we wont stand in your way,’ “ Tidy said.

So far, 59 utility boxes have been painted all over the city. According to the company’s website, 341 boxes remain.

Brad Cousins, member-at-large of Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, said several of the boxes have been approved by MCNO.

“MCNO commissioned several last year to contribute to the project and you’ll see them spring up all over Mid-City and hopefully all over the rest of New Orleans too,” Cousins said.


4 Replies to “Painted utility boxes give Mid-City small makeover

  1. I LOVE those paint jobs. This is one of the most creative public art projects around. It gives me a lift every time I see one of the improved boxes as I am driving down the street!

  2. Thanks for this article and thanks to Community Visions Unlimited for this wonderful work. As one who drives down the streets with these utility boxes multiple times a day, I would say they provide much more than a “small makeover” (per the headline). They look great! And amid graffiti, bandit signs, and blighted buildings, they are a daily reminder that some folks care enough to put in the effort to make a more pleasant visual landscape.

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