Costa Mesa uses utility boxes as canvases for local artists

Local artist Ben Brough painted utility box 15 at 17th Street and Santa Ana Avenue in Costa Mesa. 

Throughout Costa Mesa, there are dozens of utility boxes that have been converted into art pieces. The City of Costa Mesa Cultural Arts Committee’s mission is to incorporate the work of local artists in such spaces whenever possible. They launched in 2015 where they slowly unveiled different art pieces throughout time. 

Ben Brough is among the artists. His utility art box is located at 17th Street and Santa Ana Avenue in Costa Mesa. His artwork displays surfer “goons” that have meaning behind who he is. 

“I am a surfer, and at the time, I was making these surf goon characters and it just seemed to be a good idea to place them on a utility box,” he said. 

Brough saw this an opportunity to display his own artwork. 

“I’ve lived in Costa Mesa over 20 years and started seeing the utility boxes being covered with art,” he said. “I had an art show in the mayor’s office at city hall a couple years ago and they asked me to do one. So it was a no brainer.” 

Brough would like to create more utility art boxes in the future for Costa Mesa or even another city. 

Lizzy Bennet of Costa Mesa enjoys running throughout the city and seeing the utility boxes. 

“I love admiring the different art pieces I see,” she said. “It makes my runs a lot more entertaining.” 

Many residents seem to enjoy these utility art boxes. 

“They’re fun to look at and give the community some personality,” said Chad Thomas, a Costa Mesa resident. 

The City of Costa Mesa Cultural Arts Committee is always looking for new art to showcase. In order to paint a utility box in Costa Mesa, artists must be a resident of Orange County, 18 years old, create “G-rated artwork,” and submit a high resolution (300 dpi) file with dimensions of 20 inches high and 40 inches wide. 

To submit your application or for more information, visit the program website.

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