Every city has them. Utility boxes that store everything from electric to traffic control components. They are a necessary part of the landscape, but they are not exactly attractive.
Fortunately, the city of Las Vegas is filled with talented artists who love to leave their mark in the form of public art. So it was only natural they would step up to take part in a project to improve the appearance of the AMP boxes called “AMP Utility Cabinet Painting Program. ”It’s a partnership between the city, the Las Vegas Arts Commission, the Southern Nevada Water District and NV Energy and is the driving force behind whimsical and creative outdoor art now covering many of those boring brown or gray metal boxes.
Jerry Misko is local artist who has murals and paintings all over the Las Vegas area. He says he admires the city’s commitment to outdoor art.
“In general, the city sponsoring art projects shows they care about more than getting bodies through the door,” Misko said. “It’s a great thing.”
Misko is one of 25 local artists commissioned by the city for this latest series in the AMP art program. We caught up with him as he was adding his finishing touches to a large AMP box out in front of the Plaza Hotel and Casino on Main Street in downtown Las Vegas. As he brushed bright reds, pinks and maroons onto the box, he explained how he is playing off the famous blanket of lights outside the Plaza.
”The imagery is taken from the lights underneath the Plaza valet and I’ve extracted from those amazing bulbs and tried to create a feeling of buzz, of energy, of movement of what they call ‘chasing lights,’” Misko said.
Just north of Misko’s creation we found another local artist who is part of this latest phase of the public art project. Darvianna’s AMP box is located near the Neon Museum and Cashman Center. She explained her goal was to send a positive message to women of color.
“This creation is called ‘Inside and Out,’” Darvianna said. “Black women will have roses coming out of their chest or head. Basically, they’re beautiful inside and out.
“I wanted to see more representation of the women in my life so it inspired me to want to put them in the community so that when other women around here see it, they could feel more positive and be more confident in themselves.”
Most of the artists who pride themselves in creating public art say projects like the Utility Box Program make art available to everyone, even those who have never had a chance to step into a museum or gallery.
“If you’re lucky enough to see the Bellagio or one of the small galleries in town, that’s great,” Misko said. “But you can enjoy the murals from your car or from walking down the street with a slice of pizza in your hand. It’s my love letter to my hometown.”