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Calgary utility boxes brightened up by 12 artists

A new art project has taken the idea of painting Calgary's utility boxes a step further with 12 local artists getting the chance to showcase their print works.

12 utility boxes have had an arty makeover

How some of Calgary's utility boxes came to be decorated so artistically. 0:57

A new art project has taken the idea of painting Calgary's utility boxes a step further with 12 local artists getting the chance to showcase their print works.

The city's Utility Box Public Art Program started in 2010 to help prevent graffiti. Since then over 140 utility boxes have been decorated by local artists.

As part of the new program — a collaboration with Alberta Printmakers — lead artist Eveline Kolijn agreed to mentor 12 other artists for six weeks, transforming 12 boxes on the west side of the 5 and 6 Ave. S.W. corridors.

"We went out on the streets to ask passersby what they would like to see on the boxes," says Kolijn, who specializes in printmaking and sculptural installations made from found synthetic materials.

"I also organized a workshop with a presentation by a friend of mine who grew up in Eau Claire before any condos went up. We did some research in the Glenbow Museum archives to find images from the beginning of the previous century up to the 1960s, and we had those first-hand experiences told by someone who lived there."

The new project ties the boxes together in a similar theme. The prints are expected to last between three to five years.

"I think it was a great success," said Kolijn. "The prints look really well on the boxes and I've had really good feedback from the mentees and many positive comments from the public. As an artist I'm proud of what our team has achieved."