Utility Art Box Project comes to El Sereno




By Kevin Ocubillo –  Planning Deputy – Council District 14

Earlier this year, Councilmember Huizar distributed a call for artist to paint utility boxes in El Sereno and the surrounding areas. Below is a partial list of the participating artists. Noted muralist and El Sereno resident, Glenna Avila, helped coordinate this particular effort and will also participate as an artist in Councilmember Huizar’s Utility Art Box project.The call drew submissions from a wide array of artists of all ages with different points of views, styles and inspiration. The final selections reflect this variety and Councilmember Huizar is very excited to partner with these talented artists in bringing this community beautification project to fruition in El Sereno. We hope these projects bring positive public attention to our neighborhood streets and foster a spirit of collaboration through creative expression. From Boyle Heights to Downtown and El Sereno to Highland Park, Glassell Park and Eagle Rock, more than 80 boxes have been identified for painting, with more to come!

“Our Utility Art Box program in El Sereno really puts on display the unique talents of our local artists,” said Councilmember Huizar. “And I want to thank them for sharing their incredible gifts with the community. My goal is to hand over every utility box in Council District 14 to the able hands of our artists. Public art is one of the great gifts we can give to a community to beautify it and inspire thought and inspiration. Along with the many improvements we’ve brought to El Sereno and the surrounding communities, these ‘mini-murals’ enhance the improved look and feel of our community and I look forward to seeing more done in the near future.”



Van Horne & Huntington Drive North Southwest Corner  – Samantha Herrera


By Erik Sarni 

Tell us about yourself and your artistic

My name is Samantha Herrera…I’m known as sambam for my artwork I got the nickname from my best friend Malisa who called me one night & left me a drunk voice mail of her just laughing and yelling SaaaaaaaaamBaaaaaammm answer your phone!  Haha I’ll never forget that and from that day it just stuck with me.

My artwork is made by using acrylics, aerosols, and oils usually on canvas, walls or wood. I like to just go with the flow every time I start a new piece never really having a plan beforehand, I feel that’s when I have my best ideas.

Who or what influenced you to become an artist?

My two main influences I say would have to be my dad and cousin james.

When I was about 6 or 7 years old I would watch my cousin do graff and I really loved it so I would save the paper drawing he would let me have and copy everything he would do, I really looked up to him I still do.

My dad would show me his old sketches and I would trace them to get the feel of the pencil or pen until I would come up with drawings of my own I used to draw for people in elementary and sell them for 50 cents or a dollar. I’ve been drawing my whole life.

 when did you know that art was what you wanted to do at this point in life?

I’ve always been interested in art since I was a kid but growing up I had it rough so I never really had the time to focus or take my art serious. I would sketch on napkins and paper and just throw them away. It wasn’t until about 4 years ago I finally had a break from all crazy going on in my life and went out got myself some paint a few cheap brushes and a canvas. I stood up one night just painting the night away. I showed it to my best friend Malisa and she really liked it she was the first person in my life to really push and encourage me to do something with my art! She gave me a little speech one day and told me Sam stop worrying about everyone and everything else, do what makes you happy and after that first canvas I painted I fell in love with art all over again I had forgotten that feeling for a while.

What made you want to be involved with this particular project & how did you hear about it ? 

I first heard about the project from a really great artist friend of mine Ester Petschar then a few other showed me the artist call flyer on facebook so I submitted a sketch and got approved.

I wanted to do this project because it was in my hometown El Sereno, the idea I had was something I’ve been wanting to paint for a while but I was waiting for the perfect place and time and this was just the project for it!

Describe your art on the utility box and what message are you trying to send ?

My art for the utility box is a memorial mural of 4 loved ones we lost in the past 2 years.

Malisa Muruato my best friend and godsons mother the hardest loss I’ve ever had to go through , I miss her like crazy! Carlos Godinez my grandfather, Nick Hinojosa my cousin and Nathaniel Jonathan Mayweather a good friend of mines little brother. They were not only very special to me but also to so many other family and friends, even though they were taken from us way too soon I wanted to do something for them from my heart something to always remember them so they would never be forgotten and even when strangers pass and see the box they can see how much these 4 people were loved that they were once here and will always be missed!


Valley Blvd & Boca Northwest Corner  – Patricia Juarez


Tell us about yourself and your artistic work?

My name is Patricia Juarez and I was born and raised in El Sereno and currently reside here with my husband and 2 sons. I work as a special education teacher for the Los Angeles Unified School District. I hold a Bachelor of Art in Studio Art (concentration in Photography) which I earned at California State University, Los Angeles. I also hold a Master of Arts in Special Education (option in Physical and Health Impairments), also earned at California State University, Los Angeles.

Themes most present in my photography work are nature, landscapes and industrial/cityscapes. I tend to shy away from photographing people unless they are integrated in or are playing a complimentary role to one of the aforementioned themes. Also of particular interest is shooting at night and also exploring astrophotography.

 Who or what influenced you to become an artist?

I have always been interested in drawing, animation and design in general. In high school I had the opportunity to take advanced placement courses in art after my skill in drawing was brought to the attention of the AP art teacher. From there, I entered as a student at California State University, Los Angeles under the ACE/PACE program at the age of 16 and immediately began taking art courses. I knew at that age that I wanted to be an art major.

 When did you know that art was what you wanted to do at this point in life?

I am not an artist by trade (although I am formally trained) – I am a “hobby” artist. I have not been able to make a living off of my art, and at this point in my life I would rather put money into my craft than sell it. One may say that I have not marketed myself enough but perhaps that is what has kept it enjoyable and pure for me. I enjoy the work and advocating I do for students with disabilities and it is a career and in return it is something that helps to fund my photography. I would like to continue to explore opportunities that allow me to display my art without compromising my style.

 What made you want to be involved with this particular project & how did you hear about it ? 

I saw a flyer for this particular project in the newsletter published by the El Sereno Historical Society and I researched it further on the Council District 14 website. Being a mom, teacher, and student I felt I would not have enough time to take on another project but after much thinking I decided to go ahead and submit a proposal since I feel very much invested in the community being a lifelong resident.

Describe your art on the utility box and what message are you trying to send ?

The artworks displayed on the box are enlarged photographic prints printed on high quality vinyl. The photographs taken are images of rather iconic landmarks in El Sereno that I felt would both be instantly recognizable to residents and those familiar with the town and also that I felt were unique to the area. I did not want to create a work that could be placed in any other town  in essence, I wanted to create a piece that would resonate with the residents here even at the risk of outsiders not understanding the significance of the images. The impact of the images was immediate, as during the installation a couple of people from the area walked or biked by and recognized the images. One does not have to be an art enthusiast to appreciate the work. If one were to assign a deeper meaning to the works, I would say that the images serve as a reminder to residents of the community to appreciate the landmarks we have today. Perhaps in capturing these moments on a static object, the focus will be brought to taking time to appreciate the visual (if mundane to some) elements that help to shape our unique community that may be gone tomorrow. The juxtaposition of black and white and color images help to drive that point home: the antiquated looking trains are almost ghosts against the color and speed depicted in the two opposing shots of the live hill and motion on Huntington Drive.


 Huntington Drive South & Poplar Southwest Corner

Jeffrey Delgadillo / Melissa Govea 


Tell us about yourself and your artistic work?

My name is Melissa Govea. I love art in general always have always will! Every forms and types as well sketching, acrylic, oil etc. My favorite kind of art is art that makes you question everything you think you may know , the ones with a strong message.

 Who or what influenced you to become an artist?

Actually my influence for art derived from my little sister. Her name is Destiny she is only 16 and such an awesome artist, she does it so effortlessly too it’s insane. She has talent and she inspired me to want to be as great as her.

 When did you know that art was what you wanted to do at this point in life?

I’m pretty sure I knew I wanted to do art continuously when I decided to major in engineering. You need not only that logical side to get a career in that field but a creative mind as well. Without art engineering is not possible, we need artistic designs and graphics. Art is essential in creating and innovating and that’s exactly what I want to do.

 What made you want to be involved with this particular project & how did you hear about it ? 

Actually me getting to paint this project was all possible by my boyfriend Jeff , he was pretty much the whole mastermind behind this project I got to help put it all together and it was an amazing experience!

Describe your art on the utility box and what message are you trying to send ?

The art on the utility box is fun, you have to follow it all the way around the box to understand what’s going on. It starts of with a dead tree that has decomposing materials, there are mushrooms that are connected to the roots of the dead tree and the mushrooms are passing nutrients to the dead tree from a live and thriving tree on the other side of the box that will pass all it’s nutrients and revive the old one. The live tree has 5 branches representing 5 elements fire, water ,air, earth and metal, there is also a sunflower with sacred geometry in the center of the flower the patter is known as the flower of life which we hope people will want to look into. There are little hidden messages in the art as well so we encourage every one to try and find them! Overall, the message we are trying to send is the importance and symbiosis of all cycles of life in nature.


 Valley & Marianna Median  – David Alvarez


Tell us about yourself and your artistic work?

My name is David Alvarez.  I’m the middle kid of three boys. My family move to Boyle heights from west LA in 1986, I was 3. My Mother is significantly special to this project for me, because her family has long roots in University Hills. She is from Texas, her father was a farm worker whom migrated to Los Angeles, then known as “Rancho Rosa de Castilla”. My mother’s family knew some members of the Batz family, (to my understanding they were the last owners of the Rancho as a whole). Then my father, he has played a big influence also, he is a very inquisitive person with many talents. He plays guitar and harmonica, and an oil painter in his own right (in the Rembrandtesque style). Besides his love of mathematics and engineering he now spends his time in humanitarian efforts. This is where I begin as an artist.


I think back reflecting on my childhood mind frame. I remember I would observe my Dad working on these humongous oil paintings. He draped thick canvas on these three huge walls in a back room of our house. It was a scenic seaport, with people dressed in old style clothing like “Capriccio the Grand” by Canaletto. I thought how awesome it was to walk literally in a painting. I remember observing how consume he was, how he would pour himself into that “place” of creative meditation. Subconsciously this had an impact on me. It’s funny because I didn’t really start doing art with true intent until my junior year in high school. But both my parents always allowed many freedoms, that I translated “there is only one you, be your own person”, that served a strong core mind set for creativity.

 Who or what influenced you to become an artist?

I love the multi-dimensional layers the medium of “creativity” proposes. I read somewhere that “dreaming in the moment” is a composition of infused article that we weave together through our senses, this is called “our reality”. My influences creativity are not driven by one source of composed dreaming. I don’t have a one favorite artist, but there are similar undertone amongst the many I do like. In example of some, the writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez metaphoric symbolism style, the Chef-rooted Anthony Bourdain and his travels to other countries viewing the reality of there “underbellies”, Surrealist painter Salvador Dalí and how he interject dreams into his art, Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling (I would spend hours watching the marathons). The vision these people have are more profound than just what they are known for. I gravitate to these ideologies because they push for elements with deeper significance. As I was growing up this kind of thinking nurtured my curiosity steering me in different scopes of thinking. My last paintings have been semi-political, semi-social inclined. I love the “metaphor”, I love the “surreal”, I love the “psychoanalytical”, these emphasizes are always present in mind.

I’m a person that lives in the moments I call pages in a book I call life, by these pages I draw inspirations and I dictated from them with “visual voice”.

I do believe to be “artistic” you need a kind of prefixed mindset, then to be an “artist” it’s someone who is able to transpose artistic concept physically. To become an “Artist” isn’t really something that you go and learn in school to become. It’s a “way of thinking” you need to teach yourself to recognize. In school you learn techniques and terminology. For me it’s a mental process first, then to physical put a brush on canvas is an afterthought. That is my logic. 

 Art is very subjective and influenced by my mood, as well by what is going on in my life at the moment. In the process that I attempt to visualize concepts and ideas in my head; the part I find most exciting is to interrupt and share them.

I was a fairly quiet but very hyper kid, the form of “visual expression” without words captivated my child mind. I remember catching myself daydreaming a lot. For instance I would observe how body language of people would change when they would interacted with different kinds of people, the way patterns on rugs or old buildings designs would make geometric sense to me. I would also mind experiment, I would try to imagining a completely new color that no one has ever seen before, etc. I didn’t know then what it meant or why these observations captured my curiosity, but it intrigued me creatively.


when did you know that art was what you wanted to do at this point in life?


I feel art has always been a part of my life, how do you separate the self from the person. I breath Art, I consume Art, I live Art. To take Art away I would lose something vital to who I am.


What made you want to be involved with this particular project & how did you hear about it? 

I contributed to the Utility Box project because it gave me a chance to add to the collective soul of this community. As I was painting the Utility Box I honestly didn’t know what I was going to do until a week before I started. It was an amazing and humbling experience to paint on the street. I enjoyed greatly all the people that came by to talk to me when I was out there. I’m a fan of interactive Art. Since this was a community piece I wanted people in the community to partake in the piece in a unique way. I thought very hard how I can achieve that with a Utility box. So, I wrote a dessert recipe on the backside of the box. A person can walking by and write down the recipe, take it home and try it out. My art interaction concept was to enjoy the Utility box not only visually but in an edible way too. A person can take a piece of the box home (by writing down the recipe), making the recipe (an alternative way of contributing to the piece), then enjoying the “art piece” in an edible way and sharing what they made with others.

Describe your art on the box and what message are you trying to send ?

The title of the piece is called “Empathy”. Empathy is the action of understanding and being sensitive to the experiences and realities of other people. This is an idea that has circled in my head for a long time. In the neighborhood I grew up in, the rough reputation was just dying out when I started high school. I strongly dislike the kind of “negative-culture” that has being past on from generation to generation, in my neighborhood. It has been a degenerating “normality”. I believe we can grow as people if we can simply understanding the realities outside our own with compassion. If we grow as people, we advance as a community, then we can create a “cultivative-culture”.

El Sereno Utility Box project. Title: “Empathy” 2015,

corner of Valley and Marianna.


Huntington Drive South & Poplar Southwest Corner

Jeffrey Delgadillo


Huntington Drive South & Portola Southeast Corner

Timothee De Place



Valley Blvd. & Vineburn Northeast Corner

Andrew Cervantes


Lifur & Huntington Drive South Southwest Corner

Marlon Ivory



Huntington Dr. & Eastern Ave. Northeast Corner

Mark Ravelo


Here’s a list of Artist and the locations of the boxes painted.

Cross Streets Corner Artist Name

El Sereno Art Box Project 2015

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