Last Saturday IB Arts Bureau (IBAB) was back at work with a number of people painting 10 utility boxes along 13th Street.
David Frink, executive director of IBAB, was among the volunteers painting under the hot sun. He explained that the design for the utility boxes came from two groups: students of Erica Montoya at IB Charter School and the Resident Leadership Academy, a group that fosters leadership in economically disadvantaged communities. The theme of the murals is wildlife which includes birds, fish and flowers. This project was funded through an SDG&E grant. Because the utility boxes are SDG&E property, the company wanted to make sure to receive community input for the theme of the murals.
On Saturday about five volunteers cleaned the utility boxes and then painted a background color. Since an oil based paint was used, the volunteers had to wait for it to dry before starting to draw the murals. “Most of us are not painters; the more challenging part will be painting the figures. We look forward to executing the designs faithfully in the next couple of weeks,” said Frink.
IBAB has tried to focus its beautifying efforts on the east side of the city. “Some of the green boxes were tagged in the past and we’re trying to bring color to the neighborhood,” Frink said.
As part of this wave of new murals, artist Michelle Lubin will be painting a utility box adjacent to a condo on Seacoast Drive, half a block from IB Boulevard. Lubin, who is a local resident, has painted two other murals in Imperial Beach: one inside Bayside Landing dedicated to the military, and in 2018 she worked on a 100 ft barrier wall between Chase Bank and Hutchins Braudaway Realty. This is the first time Lubin has painted a utility box. She said she discussed the design with the owner of the property and also had to get an approval from the tenants in the building. The design will be picture a sunrise, since the condo building looks out onto the beach.
“I’m looking to do something new and different. I feel blessed to do something I love and bring something beautiful [during this] grim situation,” she said. Lubin will begin the new project this week and continue waiting through the weekend.