A city program to allow artists to paint its utility boxes has taken on a Stampede twist this year.  

Artists are being asked to use a western theme as they paint utility boxes at intersections around Stampede Park to mark the 100th anniversary of the first Calgary Stampede.  

Utility boxes are big targets for graffiti, but painting artwork on them has cut that vandalism by 90 per cent, said Peter Bushe, the city official overseeing the program.

"You know typically a great big grey box that is just asking for some so-called artwork to be put on it. So not only has this beautified the city a little bit and has been very well received by the public, it has also helped us reduce the graffiti vandalism," he said.

Seven utility boxes around Stampede park are getting the western treatment.

A special clear coating is put on them to protect the artwork.