The Hollister City Council on Monday unanimously approved a supplemental appropriation of $4,000 to paint utility boxes to honor local history while deterring graffiti. The San Benito Arts Council will partner with local artists to paint scenes on five boxes downtown, with an additional 10 planned if sponsors are found.
Artist Rolan Resendiz told the council that studies have shown that public arts projects like this help deter graffiti and have been used extensively in Gilroy, San Jose, Santa Cruz and Capitola.
“We’re excited about this project,” said Jennifer Laine, executive director of the arts council.
The designs will be reflective of Hollister’s rich culture, with a box at Santa Ana and San Felipe roads near Quik Stop bearing a ballet folklorico and agriculture theme. A biker blessing box will be near The Vault at Fifth tand San Benito streets; a farmers market box will be at the corner of Third and San Benito near Bank of America; a western-themed box will be painted at South and San Benito streets near the Country Rose restaurant; and the utility box at Fouth and San Benito streets to have a “La Bamba” theme to honor the Luis Valdez movie that was partially filmed in San Benito County.
New Councilwoman Mickie Solorio Luna suggested a San Benito High School theme for future box projects, saying high school affiliation is “something that very meaningful to us that were raised in this community.”
Councilman Victor Gomez, who works in San Jose, said there are few areas of that city that don’t have utility boxes featuring murals. Bringing the idea to Hollister “is great for the community,” he said.
Councilman Raymond Friend said he was impressed with the way local history will be incorporated into the boxes in a way “where someone doesn’t want to paint over it (with graffiti) becase it tells a story.”
Councilman Karson Klauer called the project, which allocates $800 per box — $200 for prepping and priming and $600 for the artists and paint supplies — “is a great start. I look forward to the local community jumping in and taking this even further.”
Mayor Ignacio Velazquez said he will sponsor a box when that opportunity arises.
“They reflect our community just perfectly,” he said.