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Natural Awakenings Hudson County NJ

Local Artists Commissioned to Paint Hoboken Utility Boxes

Art has been a special source of joy and inspiration in the pandemic, when many other avenues have been temporarily closed to us. One of the most widespread efforts to make life more beautiful through creativity—and, just as important, to support local artists and promote a worthy theme—have been popping up along Washington Street in the last two months were just completed.

The Hoboken Art Box Project is responsible for 14 pieces of public art whose installation began in October. In each case, the “canvass” is something that would normally be considered a necessary eyesore: a public utility box.

The artists and their concepts were selected by the Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee. Each artist was paid $1,250 to paint a utility box using the theme “Equality and Inclusion.” According to the advisory committee, the artists were chosen based on “relevance to the theme, quality of work and proven experience with similar projects.”

“Hoboken is committed to beautifying our public spaces and supporting our local artists, and I’m thrilled the arts committee is undertaking this quality of life initiative,” Mayor Ravi S. Bhalla said in a statement announcing the program’s launch. “The theme of equality and inclusion selected by the committee for the murals is an important one, as Hoboken will always be a fair and welcoming place where all are treated with respect. Thank you to all seven members of the arts committee for their continued efforts on this important project for our city.”

In the statement, Chris O’Connor, chair of the advisory committee, noted that this was the first project for the seven-member panel, which Bhalla formed in 2019 by executive order. The theme “reflects a core value of our city,” O’Connor said.

Bhalla’s executive order was designed to beautify public spaces in Hoboken. Part of the order dedicates 1 percent of all city bond ordinances to fund the art projects recommended by the committee and approved by the mayor and city council.

According to the city, the Hoboken Arts Advisory Committee is “a group of local citizens—artists, merchants, organizational leaders and public officials—working to bring innovative, interesting and beautiful public art to the City of Hoboken. The purpose of the Arts Advisory Committee is to act as an advisory board to the mayor and city administration relating to all questions involving public art and the City of Hoboken Art Program.”

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